How to cost-effectively code film packaging

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 23rd May 2016

1 TTO tech review_Matthews_product showcase May16If you’re looking to cost-effectively print high-density, fully compliant barcodes and labels that have longevity, or anything from simple date and batch codes to logos, product descriptions, ingredients lists and nutritional panels, then a Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) is perfect.

TTO’s are an extremely cost-effective printing solution for snack foods, confectionary and fresh produce because they allow manufacturers to easily print onto generic film packaging, including onto pre-printed labels to overprint dates and so forth.

And they have a few other benefits too – including cost savings.

Thermal Transfer Overprinters (TTO’s) produce crisp and durable printing for flexible packaging films and self-adhesive labels. This means manufacturers can use generic film across their products, resulting in large savings by not having to buy specific pre-printed films for different SKU’s.

But firstly, how do they work?

TTO’s use a high-resolution thermal print-head that melts a wax and/or resin-based ink from a very thin thermal transfer ribbon (or “foil”) coating onto the surface of the product. Their high quality coding onto labels, gloss card or flexible film packaging (such as flow wrap), suits TTO’s to product ID applications in snack foods, confectionery and fresh produce.

Thermal transfer printing has quite a few advantages.

  • It’s efficient: TTO’s are designed for reduced downtime and maximised ribbon economy, to keep manufacturing businesses running smoothly. Because the Linx TT series only leaves 0.5mm of a gap between messages on the ribbon, it has a low cost of ownership, while the clutch-less ribbon drive minimises ribbon breakage, further enhancing uptime.
  • High quality print results: The thermal transfer ribbon’s smooth, waxy surface creates less friction when applying the code onto the product, so it’s ideal for high-speed production lines.
  • Long print-head life: Compared with direct thermal barcode printing, print-head life in thermal transfer is frequently double.
  • High-resistance codes: Thermal transfer barcodes are highly resistant to any chemicals, humidity, UV rays, abrasion and climatic changes that packaging may be subjected to on its journey through the supply chain.

What else do TTO’s offer?

The Linx TT series of TTO’s are all about increased production-line uptime and lower ownership costs. The colour touch-screen, clear interface with standard code formats and simple-to-follow instructions all aim to reduce operator error. While the efficient ribbon drive reduces ribbon wastage to an absolute minimum, keeping running costs low.

Extensive on-board diagnostic packages provide fault, warning and help messages to optimise factory floor productivity, with easy switching between intermittent and continuous printing modes, and left or right-hand operation.

The TT’s high resolution, with a 300dpi print-head, gives precise quality and ensures optimum legibility of even the smallest characters.

So where to start?  

Here’s a quick run down of four different TTO’s.

A) Linx TT5: easy, flexible coding

The Linx TT5 Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO is efficient, easy to use and with one of the longest standard ribbons on the market (1200m), it doesn’t need to be changed as often, all of which adds to uptime. It allows basic coding out of the box, without needing a PC on the production line.

Perfect for: Using a standard ribbon width (up to 55mm), the TT5 is particularly suitable for printing best before dates and batch codes.

Case study: Check out how SA fruit grower, packer and wholesaler R Ceravolo & Co. has cut downtime, saved costs and increased throughput by installing a Linx TT5.

B) Linx TT5: Washdown (IP65)

The Linx TT5 Washdown (IP65) Thermal Transfer Overprinter has an easily inserted wash-down cassette, which makes wash-down procedures faster and much easier. This particularly saves time if the site needs daily wash-down, because the printer and controller stay in place on the line.

Perfect for: easy clean-up and high quality printing of barcodes, best before and batch codes, 2D codes, and logos.

C) Linx TT10: the step-up on easy, flexible coding

Perfect for: The Linx TT10 Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) has all the benefits of the Linx TT5 TTO with a wider ribbon (up to 110mm), so is ideal to print wider messages, such as ingredients lists, nutritional panels, logos and marketing information.

D) Linx TT10: Maximum economy, minimum fuss

Perfect for: The Linx TT3 Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) is the best coder for those who are upgrading from non-digital solutions, such as hot stamp or roller coders. It’s ideal for simple date and batch coding with variable information onto flexible film packaging such as bags, pouches and flow wrap.

To find out how Matthews can help with cost-effective, durable coding, dating and marking with a Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO), contact us. You can also call 1300 CODING (1300 263 464).