The concept, called DataLase, is a new technology that combines chemistry, substrate conversion and laser energy for high speed printing of images. Sherwood claims that when exposed to low power CO2 laser emissions at high speed, it provides a customisable solution for image generation.
A reaction is caused with the DataLase chemistry, resulting in a clear and permanent high contrast image.
The company says that this differs from the conventional use of lasers, which typically 'burn' an image into the material, or remove a dark layer of ink to reveal the light coloured substrate underneath the packaging to form a contrast image.
DataLase chemistry can be applied to a range of packaging and printingmaterials such as paper and board. Substrate conversion can be achieved through direct doping, flood coating or patch printing.
Furthermore, the company claims that the technology provides a real breakthrough for imaging on materials where marking has been traditionally challenging or less than satisfactory, such as metals, foils or plastics.
And the technology can also help packagers meet traceability requirements. Codes can be printed on outer cartons after the application of a polypropylene shrink film, using a patch of DataLase applied as a gravure ink at the same time as other colours.
"In sharp contrast to traditional methods, DataLase offers promising possibilities for future developments in the imaging field, including multicolour printing and proofing, virtual labelling, high-speed coding and marking of foodstuffs," said Sherwood Technology managing director Steve Kelly.
"Early adopters of the technology are already enjoying substantial cost savings and gains in efficiency compared to standard ink jet solutions."
Traceability is a key concern among food manufacturers, and a number of packaging innovations have been launched to meet the new legal requirements. Earlier this year in the US for example, Orbid Corporation, a developer of secure track and trace systems used in the identification and protection of products, has established a partnership with CCL Label.
Both companies believe that the partnership will facilitate traceability. Orbid's patented 2DMI coding system will be incorporated into CCL Label's newly developed security packaging.
"With this innovative labelling and packaging it will be possible to validate the authenticity of products throughout the supply chain, from manufacturer, to distributor, to consumer," said Kevin Simmons, managing director of sales for Orbid.
The security labels developed by CCL Label and enhanced by Orbid's 2DMI coding system will provide manufacturers with a tool that allows them to verify that shipments, down to the smallest unit level, are authentic and authorised. The previous inability to track and validate authenticity beneath the level of large batches left room for counterfeiting, theft and diversion - practices that decrease safety levels, cut into product sales, and cause the long term erosion of brand value if left unchecked.
Orbid's 2DMI system features security marks that can be unobtrusively incorporated into any of CCL Label's packaging and label designs. Each 2DMI mark is unique and can be printed in virtually any colour, in any size, and on any surface while remaining rapidly scanable by commercial-off-the-shelf cameras and standard imagers.