Thermal printer adjusts to variable line speeds

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Printing, Norwood

A high-speed thermal transfer printer for flexible packaging
released on the market is designed to quickly adjust to variable
speeds on the line.

Norwood Marking Systems claims its 55sst Thermal Express's ribbon-handling system "virtually" eliminates partial prints, misprints and ribbon breakage caused by fluctuations in web speed.

Norwood's thermal printing system allows food processors to achieve the best print quality they can while achieving the high throughput volumes demanded by the food industry today, the companysaid.

Due to the printing quality that can be achieved, thermal printing technology is the main form used by industry, especially for the printing of barcodes and variable date information. Stationarythermal printers account for two-thirds of sales by the industry, forecasts Venture Development Corp. (VDC).

The adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is driving the growing use of high-end thermal bar code printers. RFID printer and encoder sales will grow 88 per cent this year,according to the US technology research firm.

Norwood is targeting the printer at the snacks, dairy products, fresh-cut, frozen vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood markets. The 55sst printer operates at production speeds of up to 1000 mm persecond in continuous motion mode and up to 600 mm per second in intermittent motion mode.

"Unlike traditional continuous-motion thermal transfer printers that are adversely affected by fluctuations in web speed, Norwood's patented ribbon management system provides controlled ribbonacceleration,"​ the company stated. "This unique system improves registration to produce consistent print quality while causing less wear and tear on the system."

The printer outputs fixed and variable data for labelling on a wide range of packaging materials, including a variety of flexible films and label material. Variable printing tasks includes real-time data such as UPC, lot and production codes, expiration and sell-by dates, which are produced in-line as products are packaged, helping processors to improveproduct security and tracking.

Conversion from one printing task to another is made through a choice of three different user interface options. It can be controlled via the PR4 colour touch screen that would typically be mountedto the host equipment near the print engine.

Norwood can also equip the 55sst with a PR3 colour handheld interface. Both options enable operators to recall images from memory and handle simple editing functions at print time.

The 55sst can also be controlled via connection to a computer or network, which enables remote operation, monitoring and diagnostics of the print operation. The computerised interface gives users achoice of eight languages. Multi-level password protection increases production security.

The printer has time, calendar and serialization functions. Text and graphics, including a wide array of two-dimensional or RSS barcodes, can be printed to a resolution of 300 dpi (12 dots per mm)both horizontally and vertically.

A choice of font styles and text sizes are available. Users can print ingredients and nutritional information using a paragraph feature that automatically wraps text, eliminating the time it takesto format text one line at a time.

The 55sst can be mounted on host equipment, including vertical- and horizontal-form-fill-seal systems, print and apply labellers, thermoformers and overwrapping equipment.

A software controlled electronic adjustment system allows operators to change quickly from intermittent motion to continuous motion operation. This versaility allows food packagers to use theprinter on a wider range of lines.

In intermittent motion mode, the 55sst offers a print area up to 2.05 inches (52mm) wide and 3.15 inches (80mm) long. With continuous motion operation, the print area can be up to 2.05 inches(52mm) wide and 4.92 inches (125mm) long. Norwood, a division of Illinois Tool Works, focuses on making premium hot stamp imprinters for the food industry.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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