Thermal Transfer: barcode and packaging printing

identification and traceability of products
All products or packaging circulating around the world are marked individually with a range of variable information: barcode, serial number, expiry date, composition, price, recipient, etc.

Printing of thermal transfer labels and packaging

Barcode printing Printing labels for shipping Printing on food packaging

In industrial environments where products are subject to significant stress, there is one golden rule for Thermal Transfer for labels: remain legible against all odds to deliver an intact message, without deterioration or errors, without omissions or gaps.

The advantage of Thermal Transfer printing is that it allows the printing of variable information (i.e. batch or serial numbers) on labels or on flexible packaging that can be identified with the naked eye or with a barcode label reader.
And finally, without us knowing it, Thermal Transfer is present on all our day-to-day products.


Barcode printing

Essential for the stock management and optimisation, the barcode is also the world's most widely used means of conveying traceability data.

A barcode label contains a set of numerical (or alphanumerical) data relating to a product that is read by an optical reader. Though apparently very similar, each code is composed of data that can be unique to each product.

There are 3 major barcode families:

One-dimensional or linear barcode - 1D

Stacked linear barcode - 1D 
Two-dimensional barcode - 2D

The QR Code (Quick Response) is a type of 2D barcode that can be read by different types of device and that may contain more information than other types of barcodes. Generated by dedicated software (barcode maker), barcodes labels can then be printed via several printing technologies.

The advantage of Thermal Transfer printing is its ability to print all types of bar codes and variable information while meeting durability, readability and unit printing requirements.

inkanto ribbons for Thermal Transfer printers

The inkanto Thermal Transfer ribbon range offers solutions for printing all types of variable information (bar codes, batch number, expiry date, logos, etc.). These ribbons are compatible with all Flat-Head and Near-Edge printers on the market.
The ARMOR range of Thermal Transfer ribbons consists of three families:
  • Wax 
  • Wax-Resin 
  • Resin 

These different qualities enable ARMOR to offer both competitive ribbons for price-sensitive applications, standard ribbons for optimal performance and specialised ribbons for highly demanding applications.

ARMOR can offer a Thermal Transfer ribbon that perfectly meets the needs of each user in terms of:
  • Resistance
  • Price
  • Legibility
  • Bar code type
  • Print medium (vellum, coated paper, synthetic, textile, flexible packaging).

This range is the most extensive on the market because it meets 99% of label printing and flexible packaging printing needs.

The UL Mark, a symbol of printing performance

Who is UL?

Underwriter Laboratory (UL) is an independent American laboratory dedicated to run safety tests on all kind of products.  The UL  symbol  is  quite  often  visible   on   warning   and   nameplate   labels   attached  to  electrics  and  electronic  devices:  batteries, telephones, computers, household appliances, etc.

The printed logo means that the components used for the labelling (printing material, adhesive and printing ink) successfully passed the UL tests.

The nameplates display important technical and/or legal information in terms of safety, conditions of usage, regulations compliancy and origins which require they remain legible and fixed to the product through its life cycle.

What is the UL 969 Standard?

Under the standard ANSI/UL 969, UL has created a portfolio of tests to evaluate the performance of the label (adhesion capacity and material resistance) and the durability of the printed message (resistances to multiple external stresses) in both indoor and outdoor use conditions.

Typical tests include exposure to extreme temperature and high humidity levels, immersion in water, sunlight (UV), and exposure to several aggressive liquids (oil, solvents, petrol).

These tests provide a good indication to the end-users regarding the overall performance of their final labelling application.

Inkanto ribbon and UL mark

A UL approval is not granted to a Thermal Transfer ribbon alone but to a combination ribbon + label.

Below is an overview of the approvals that ARMOR ribbons have obtained with some of the main label manufacturers’ materials. It is a guarantee that end-users can sell their products on the US market.
  • 3M : AXR 7+, AXR8, AXR 600, AXR 800
  • DE LA RUE: APR 6, AXR 7+, AXR 8
  • Fasson: APR 6 , AXR 1, AXR 7+, AXR 8, APR 600, AXR 600, AXR 800
  • Flexcon: APR 6, AXR 1, AXR 7+, AXR 8, AXR 9 , APR 600, APX 650, AXR 600, AXR 800
  • Fuqing Xie Yu: AXR 9
  • Herma Gmbh: AXR 7+, AXR 8, AXR 600
  • JMD France: AXR 9, APR 600, AXR 900
  • Lintec graphics UK: AXR 7+, AXR 8
  • Lintec Corp Japan: AXR 7+, AXR 600
  • PLASTO printers: AXR 7+
  • Polyonics printers: AXR 7+, AXR 8, AXR 600
  • PPI Ireland printers: AXR 7+, AXR 8, AXR 600

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