Skip to content
Home » Coding and Marking Essentials for Your Business

Coding and Marking Essentials for Your Business

Coding and marking equipment refers to devices used to print variable information like codes, text, graphics, and barcodes onto products and packaging. This equipment is commonly used in manufacturing, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, electronics, and other industries to identify, track, and provide information about products.

Some key types of coding and marking equipment include:

Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) Printers: These printers work by pumping electrically charged ink droplets which are deflected by an electrode. The stream of ink droplets is continuous but only deflected onto the product when printing is required. This allows for printing of up to 5 lines of text, logos, date codes, barcodes and more at high speeds. CIJ is one of the most versatile and commonly used marking methods.

Laser Marking Systems: Laser markers etch or mark products using a high-energy laser beam. The beam alters the surface of the material in some way to create a permanent mark. Lasers can mark at very fast speeds and on fragile materials like plastics, paper, and glass that cannot withstand contact printing methods. Lasers are used for marking serial numbers, date codes, logos, and 2D barcodes.

Label Printer Applicators: These systems digitally print labels and automatically apply them onto products as they pass through on the production line. They’re commonly used for printing barcodes, ingredient lists, “use-by” dates, shipping labels, and more. Label printer applicators allow for customization of label content for each product.

Large Character Marking Systems: Used to print large letters, numbers, and symbols onto boxes, crates, and pallets to identify products during storage and shipping. Ink-based and labeling marking systems are commonly used. Characters can measure several inches to feet in height for visibility in warehouses and during transport.

Pin Marking Units: Impact dot matrix pin markers stamp a series of dots into the surface of the product to create text, logo, and barcode markings. Since the pins physically deform the material, pin marking creates a permanent depression mark. Common applications include marking on automotive and aerospace parts, fresh produce, and dental implants.

Thermal Transfer Printers: A digitally controlled thermal printhead heats an inked ribbon and transfers the ink onto the label or product surface. Thermal transfer coders are inexpensive, simple, and versatile for printing batch codes, logos, text, and barcodes. The drawback is that ink ribbons need to be replaced regularly.

Hot Stamp Coders: These systems have a metal die that is heated and then pressed onto a foil ribbon to melt the foil coating onto the product for a shiny, reflective mark. Hot stamping creates a bold, permanent imprint but the machine must have a die made for each different layout.

Inkjet Coders: Piezo electric inkjet printheads eject droplets of ink directly onto the surface to print codes and text. Inkjet coders are compact, simple, and inexpensive but require frequent maintenance of printheads. UV-curable and solvent inks allow inkjet printing on almost any surface.

Stencils/Templates: Stencils are thin metal plates with cut-out shapes or letters that can be used to apply ink marks by brushing, spraying, or rolling ink over the stencil. Stencils allow for simple coding without the need for digital printers or changeover of consumables like ink and labels. However, the marks may not be as consistent or durable. Templates are similar but made of plastics and are lower cost but also less durable.

The choice of coding and marking equipment depends on factors like the substrate, required mark permanence, production line speeds, changeover frequency, required print quality, and operating conditions. Proper selection, utilization and maintenance of coding equipment helps manufacturers efficiently print critical variable data on products during manufacturing and packaging. Advancements in coding technology continue to expand marking capabilities while simplifying operation, changeover, and integration into production lines.