Videojet has launched CO2 laser-marking units that can code up to 150,000 food packages per hour.
The 30-W Model 3330 and 10-W Model 3130 use lasers instead of ink to impart serial codes on containers, saving on consumables. Both are designed for high-speed jobs; in dot-font mode, they reportedly mark up to 30% more quickly than with vector fonts.
Peter Lindstrom, commercial manager of lasers for Videojet, told FoodProductionDaily flexibility is an important attribute of laser coding equipment, especially in diverse food production and packaging environments looking for equipment that can handle an array of products and containers.
“If there is a need to change packaging or to move the laser to another location on a different machine, the operations people can feel confident that they would not need to buy a brand-new machine,” he said.
Lindstrom said food firms must ensure their coding equipment meets their needs for marking, tracking, and tracing. Suppliers such as Videojet can fill the bill by communicating with food and packaging operations to customize equipment.
“Prior to the design phase of any product, we do interviews with customers and prospective customers to understand their current and future needs—not just for speed, but code content, barcodes, and so on,” he said. “We call this ‘Voice of the Customer.’”
Lindstrom added that current laser technology only allows laser marking of about 35% to 40% of packaging materials on the market. However, he said, suppliers like Videojet are working on expanding that range and testing the gamut of wavelengths and substrates.
Another common consideration is limited space; the coding units reportedly are designed to take up a minimal footprint.
“If we can install a laser into a smaller space, or mount the body of the laser in a location out of the way and use beam turning units, the installation is less intrusive to the operator,” Lindstrom said. “Tighter integration into packaging machinery (such as cartoners, thermoformers, wrappers, and baggers) is a huge benefit.”
The CO2 units (which reportedly offer approximately 20,000 different marking configurations) are designed for serialized-coding of food and beverage products. The devices can mark on PET bottles, plastic labels, laminated cartons, and other commonly used packaging materials.