Thermal inkjet (TIJ) technology involves using a series of tiny nozzles that heat the ink and then depositing a small amount of ink onto the printing surface, resulting in ultra-crisp printing. The technology is slightly different from inkjet printing which uses a continuous flow of ink to the print head. “Despite inkjet’s ability to produce high-quality prints, TIJ technology produces an even better quality, coupled with higher color saturation, albeit at a slightly slower rate. Thermal inkjet printers are more cost-efficient as thermal ink doesn’t evaporate like the ink used by continuous inkjet printers,” says Kristy Sheng, Regional manager for Specialty Print & Technology Services for HP in Asia Pacific and Japan.
TIJ technology, like the ink it uses, has improved over time to increase its versatility and durability, she says. These improvements mean it is now one of the most versatile and reliable options available to OEMs in increasingly regulated industries such as food and pharmaceuticals.
TIJ & 2D barcodes in pharmaceutical and food packaging
TIJ technology enables several printing applications, including those that meet the most demanding coding and marking regulatory requirements in pharmaceutical and food packaging. “Its ability to deliver high-resolution, high-speed coding directly to manufacturers’ production lines means 2D barcodes can be delivered consistently and reliably with lasting durability. All while driving efficiencies, resulting in an increased uptime on packaging coding and marking production lines,” Sheng shared.
Packaging manufacturers can leverage TIJ technology with its ability to utilize GMP-compliant solvent inks in addition to aqueous inks capable of delivering high-resolution 2D barcodes, QR codes and other data metrics and text, onto treated and untreated substrates, she said. The innovative deployment means specialty printing applications can meet constantly evolving and progressively more stringent regulatory requirements for track and trace capabilities.
Precision, high-resolution, and durability for readability are essential while printing 2D barcodes. “With decades of innovation and leadership in inkjet-based applications, HP TIJ technology has the ability to consistently produce the sharp, high-resolution 2D codes required by manufacturers and regulators alike. Manufacturers benefit from minimal servicing and high uptime,” Sheng says.
TIJ and sustainability benefits
TIJ technology can help manufacturers to achieve their sustainability goals in numerous ways. Throughout the printing process, zero wear and tear occurs to moving parts, which results in minimal maintenance. TIJ application, unlike its counterparts inkjet and continuous inkjet technology, does not work by using a constant flow of ink droplets and is, thus, less wasteful. Also, when the print cartridge is replaced, the printer automatically has a new print head resulting in cleaner printing when compared to inkjet or continuous inkjet printing, Sheng explains.
Moreover, continuous inkjet printing produces excessive aerosol by constant ink droplets which can be harmful to workers on packaging manufacturing lines. Since TIJ doesn’t produce excessive aerosol, it is relatively safer to use. Lastly, in TIJ printing is super sharp and high-quality, resulting in less batch or lot number recalls due to insufficient print quality, resulting in less wastage.
Personalization in digital packaging
Widespread proliferation of digitalization has rapidly increased the demand for personalization in digital packaging. This trend is something that has also spread to the late-stage customization of shipping boxes and outer packaging across a variety of verticals such as entertainment, fashion, logistics, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
“TIJ’s ability to print high-quality 2D barcodes at high-speed benefits industries’ growing use of barcodes for tracking, providing additional information that otherwise cannot fit on the box, while simultaneously being used to verify the authenticity of the product contained within. We are also seeing a sharp increase in the application of high data, such as QR codes owing to their dynamic nature and ability to convey larger amounts of information, as well as being used for authentication purposes,” Sheng says.
As many brands increasingly seek new ways to engage with consumers, personalization provides them with the ability to add value and increase relevance with their packaging, she said. With the help of digital printing technologies, personalization is more feasible and more easily achieved.
“We will likely see the market for printing solutions to meet consumers’ increased demand for personalized products explode in the near future. HP is well-placed to offer reliable solutions with its extensive investment and commitment to produce TIJ technology capable of meeting this demand,” Sheng concludes.