Ink and solvents can lead to contamination of food and drink products. Eliminating the use of such chemicals can Ciba said its Pergamark line is the the first non-pigmented chemical for the laser market. No ink or grime is used at the point of printing and solvents are eliminated from the packaging line, the company claimed. The laser marker allows processors to print variable data such as "best before" dates on demand - and at high speed - at the final stage of packaging, the company claimed. The Pergamark's design allows processors to at such variable data at the late stage in the processing and packaging of foods, Ciba stated. The system uses a low-power CO2 laser. The Pergamark is applied to the package substrate in coatable or ink form by a paper manufacturer or converter. When marked by a laser at point of printing, it yields a more stable, higher-contrast black image than alternative methods such as inkjet or thermal printing, even on curved and other complex surfaces, the company claimed. Pergamark offers packagers and labelers better functionality and flexibility along with environmental advantages, said Derek Fairclough, the global head of Ciba's paper business line. "It can also save costs by reducing downtime and maintenance as well as use of energy and consumables such as ink," he stated. The substance is specifically tuned to frequencies produced by a low-energy CO2 laser. The advantage over laser ablation include low energy use, the removal of risk of damage to the substrate, and black-on-white printing. All components of the system are in line with food contact regulations, claimed Ciba.