By John Henry, www.changeover.com
In my last article, I discussed package and product coding in general terms. Now, I want to get into the nuts and bolts. There are two classes of coders: contact and non-contact. As the name implies, contact coders make physical contact with the package, such as a label. Non-contact coders do not. Both technologies are available in formats that can be used inline or off and for continuous or intermittent operation. This article will discuss common contact coding technologies with pros and cons. A subsequent article will discuss non-contact coding technologies.
The code is usually made up at each use by inserting individual rubber characters into slots on a baseplate. If a large amount of information is to be printed, monolithic rubber mats may be molded incorporating all the required info. Since these usually must be made up days or weeks ahead of time, coordination with variable production schedules can be difficult.
For intermittent motion printing, with the substrate paused, the baseplate is mounted on a reciprocating mechanism. This first presses the characters against an ink pad, then against the substrate, transferring the ink to create the code.
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