Even with improvements in the inkjet world on printing consistency, resolution, and barcode readability, these newer solutions are not always on par with some classic methods of labeling.

Below are 4 instances where a printer/applicator and label is the best option; saving time, money, and preventing a lot of headaches.

1. Requirement of a high barcode grade.

Some end-users require an “A” or “B” grade on all bar codes that enter their building or warehouse. If a barcodes need to be on a brown corrugated box and require an “A” or “B” grade, then a label is the only solution for that prospect. Inkjet barcodes on brown or kraft cases will only scan at a grade “C” level at best due to the contrast (dark to light) between the corrugated surface and the ink. The final grade for a bar code is only as high as its lowest variable. Therefore, it could have all grade “A” variables except for one, and it would still receive a “C” grade. A label, being white, produces a high contrast bar code at a higher resolution, eliminating poor barcode grades.

2. Dense barcodes.

A barcode that requires very narrow bars and spaces are difficult for an inkjet system to produce consistently. Since the inkjet system is printing directly on the carton, a mishandled product can lead to an unreadable code. Thermal transfer printers, however, can produce 300dpi barcodes and produce much denser bars than most inkjet systems. Since the labels are printed inside the printer and then applied to the case, product handling plays a smaller role in the ultimate readability of the code.

3. Glossy, Decorative Cases or Clay-Coated Chipboard

Most high resolution, large-character inkjet systems do not use inks that will dry on these types of surfaces. There are some that do, but the capital is more, and the consumable difference between ink and labels is less. These substrates are best suited for a printer/applicator.

4. Code location.

Needing a code on the top, bottom, front, or back of a case is another instance of needing a printer/applicator and label. Some inkjet systems can print in a downward or upward orientation, but usually with significant limitations. Having to print on the front or back of a case as it moves down a conveyor, rules out an inkjet system without the process requiring additional product handling. Printer/applicators have no problem applying labels to the front, side, front and side, side and back, back, top, or any other part of a box. The more complex the application, line speeds, and label size, the more placement accuracy and other factors will need to be addressed to make sure it will be a successful fit.

Technology has had a significant impact on the marking and coding world, but a good ol’ printer/applicator and label will always have its necessary place.

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