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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Make Your Mark

A trusted partner can make all the difference for the ever-evolving pharma industry. Forged on a foundation of communication, such relationships can yield mutually beneficial results for both businesses and clients.

Take packaging professionals: aligning with the right coding and marking supplier can help pharma companies navigate the crucial ink selection process. The best ink suppliers study the evolution of packaging materials, understand the range of manufacturing environments, and proactively apply rigorous ink development processes to ensure code performance and integrity. This article will examine the many different factors to consider when using ink jet coding equipment, ensuring you choose the right ink to meet your specific application requirements.

Identify Your Needs

Printing equipment suppliers focus heavily on new product design to provide the packaging industry with innovative, classleading coding solutions that support stringent production needs. However, R&D investment should not stop at the coding equipment. The demand for new speciality inks suited to an increasing variety of innovative packaging is both a sign of real customer challenges and an indicator of where hardware suppliers should direct investment and expertise.

When preparing to discuss ink selection with a potential partner, you should consider:
  • What material is being coded onto?
  • Are there any surface coatings or contaminants from the manufacturing process present on the product either before or after coding?
  • What product surface colour variation exists, and what is your or your customer’s requirement for visual or machine-readable code contrast?
  • What is the printer operating environment, and what extremes of temperature will the product itself experience and the code need to endure?
  • When and what components come into contact with the ink code after printing that may impact ink dry time and durability?
Production Environment

Ink performance is influenced by the material being coded. New highperformance plastics are constantly being developed that can present complex challenges to ink code adhesion. The production environment also plays a significant role in how inks adhere. Factors such as moisture, temperature and humidity can all impact initial ink code adhesion and durability.

Drying and set times afforded by product processes and manufacturing environments must be accommodated. Understanding these fixed constraints is crucial to selecting an ink that can survive the manufacturing process environment.

The time between printing the code and its first contact with a material handling component – like a belt or guide rail, or even adjacent products – may influence the code’s adhesion and legibility. These manufacturing process conditions can result in problems such as ink transfer or code smudging, and should therefore be considered when selecting the required ink.

Access Experts

Pharma manufacturers should take full advantage of the ink expertise offered by their marking and coding ink and equipment partner. There are multiple options and issues to take into account when choosing ink, but by engaging hardware application specialists and ink chemists in a collaborative way, you can achieve a better fit to your exact needs.

For example, an ink that worked yesterday might not work today, due to a subtle change in a manufacturing process or an undisclosed change to the substrate by your supplier. An ink specialist and their unique set of tools can help diagnose these problems and recommend solutions that get code performance back to an optimal state.

Latest Technology

Just as manufacturers are always improving their processes, ink specialists are constantly researching new formulations to meet the latest coding application demands. Manufacturers need to take this into account as they upgrade or expand their systems.

However, it is crucial to resist the temptation to cut corners. Some packaging teams may move to save money by purchasing fluids from a thirdparty ink supplier. Since these fluids are engineered without taking the printer specifications into consideration, they can degrade a printer’s performance and code appearance over time. As a result, off-brand supplies can end up costing much more in the long run due to costs associated with excessive maintenance, premature part failures and unpredictable downtime.

The Bottom Line

Pharma packaging professionals will be well-served by partnering with a thorough coding and marking company in order to choose the proper ink for their applications. This relationship can prove to be the critical difference in any business climate.

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Heidi Vanheerswynghels is a Strategic Account Manager at Videojet Technologies. She leads some of the company’s key global pharma accounts and carries responsibility for all medical and pharma business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Taking a central role in sales growth, Heidi works closely with the Videojet marketing team to develop and implement campaigns, as well as collecting and analysing market data to support product development. She has more than ten years of management experience in the medical and pharma packaging industry.

Heidi Vanheerswynghels
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