Even with improvements in the inkjet world on printing consistency, resolution, and bar code 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 bar code grade.

Some end-users require an “A” or “B” grade on all bar codes that enter their building or warehouse. If a bar codes need to be on a brown corrugate box, and requires an “A” or “B” grade, then a label is the only solution for that prospect. Inkjet bar codes on brown or kraft cases will only scan at a grade “C” level at best due to the contrast (dark to light) between the corrugate 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 bar code grades.

2. Dense bar codes.

A bar code that requires very narrow bars and spaces is 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 bar codes 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 hi res, 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 in the marking and coding world, but a good ol’ printer/applicator and label will always have its necessary place. To learn about all the great printing solutions R.V. Evans has, visit our website or contact our printing product manager Craig Fox at cfox@rvevans.com.

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