A laser approach
to coding and marking
Many interesting chemistry-related imaging products have emerged from R&D labs in recent years. Take for example DataLase, a non-toxic marking product from Sherwood Technology, a color change specialist in north west England (www.sherwoodtech.com). DataLase is described as a nontoxic and environmentally friendly ink, coating or additive that produces a positive image when marked by a low-power CO2 laser. The laser unit is generally installed on the packing/filling line. It creates a simple chemical color change to form stable, high contrast images on cartons, primary labels or overwraps. Examples include variable information, such as batch dates and bar coding, as well as fixed logos and graphics.
DataLase is integrated into the base material during its manufacture or printing process, or alternatively applied with a patch printing or flood coating process. DataLase is compatible with most printing and coating processes. The resulting laser-responsive surface becomes an integral part of the packaging. Sherwood says its “virtual labeling” technology gives end users a cost effective alternative to conventional inkjet or thermal transfer printing of print-and-apply labels. Nevertheless, there is also scope for enterprising label and packaging printers to create added value by offering productivity gains for their customers.
Sherwood says many brand manufacturers already use low-level laser marking for date coding. Several have expressed interest in running production trials with virtual labeling. It has links with the major laser vendors and has embarked on a program of licensing its technology in this field. It recently signed a license agreement with Domino to increase its international coverage. Domino’s laser marking division will supply a total coding and printing package to several sectors, including pharmaceutical, food and beverage and product security.