What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of ink jet
printing versus laser etching of UID marks?
Printing Advantages – Ink jet printing is an additive
process. In most cases the printed ink thickness is less than
0.001” thick. Since it is an additive process, unless
the ink has been cured, it can be removed in the event of operator
error without damage to the part. Inkjet marking is a natural
progression to rubber stamping or pad transfer printing. Inkjet
marking systems range from $8.5K to over $100K, depending on
system configuration. Portable inkjet printing systems are available
whereby small or medium sized parts can be brought to the marking
system for UID identification. When printing large parts, the
ink jet print head can be brought to the part for marking. Print
contrast can be achieved by printing a white or light background
followed by a black or dark mark.
Inkjet Printing Disadvantages – Ink jet printers require
consumables, inks and system fluids (also referred to as Make-Up
or solvent). In order to achieve marking permanency with the
ink selected for use a curing process (UV or thermal) may be
required. Chemical waste is generated by an ink jet process
during the head cleaning, printer maintenance or general part
cleaning process. MEK inks may be required for Mil-Std 130 UID
compliance. Not all ink jet printers are the same. Some require
more maintenance than others thus, printer selection is more
difficult. Care and process considerations must be considered
in order to avoid implementing a messy process. May require
multiple ink jet printers, generally a white and a black ink
printer, in order to obtain the necessary print contrast on
select parts. Pigmented (white or yellow ink) ink jet printers
require significantly more maintenance and are not capable of
achieving high resolution marks. Ink jet printers can clog if
not properly maintained.
Laser Etching Advantages – Laser etching or marking is
a subtractive process; material is removed to generate the mark.
Thus laser marks are permanent marks without requiring any curing
process to achieve marking permanency. High resolution print
quality is achievable. No potentially hazardous chemicals are
required. Laser marking systems range from $25K to over $100K,
depending on system configuration.
Laser Etching Disadvantages- Improper set-up can generate scrap
or require remarking in newly designated areas. Set-up times
for individual parts can vary. Provisions for operator safety
must be incorporated into the marking process. These provisions
include: incorporating Class I enclosures, installation within
controlled environments, extensive operator and maintenance
personnel training, and posting of laser warning signs. Laser
etching systems can be costly when properly integrated. For
high power laser systems water chillers may be required. Fume
extractors are recommended in order to remove laser debris.
Improper set-up can cause potential mark penetration problems.
Laser etching process requires a higher skilled operator.
We currently affix metal tags to our products but need to now
meet Mil-Std 130 UID requirements. We dont want to discard
all of the metal tags we currently have in-stock but must meet
Mil-Std 130 requirements. What is the most cost effective way
of meeting the requirement?
your metal tags have the alphanumeric text requirements printed
on your tag and the only requirement is to add the UID 2D code
on to the tag, the most cost effective way is to affix a UID
2D code to your existing tag. In most cases JETEC can provide
UID 2D codes and verification reports within 2-3 days after
receipt of UID label request.
What printers from Videojet are capable of printing UID compliant
you have identified a Mil-Std 130 compliant ink for your application
the following Videojet printers have been proven by JETEC to
print verifiable UID 2D codes: Excel HR, Excel 170iUHS,
Excel 2000, Excel 2000 Opaque, PrintPro and 46S.
What other printers, other than Videojet printers, have JETEC
tested or are in the process of testing for Mil-Std UID compliant
has been successful printing UID compliant 2D codes using the
Domino A200 Series, Imaje 9000 Series, and Metronic Alphajet
Series industrial ink jet printers. Some of these printers may
require a printer device control interface software, such as
JETEC’s IMS2701 or IMS5000, in order to achieve UID compliance
I have Videojet Excel HR series ink jet printers and want to
print Mil-Std 130 UID compliant 2D codes. Are they capable?
Excel High Resolution (HR) Series industrial ink jet printers
require Extended Serial Interface (ESI) firmware and a printer
device control interface software, such as JETEC’s IMS2701
or IMS5000 in order to print verifiable Mil-Std 130 UID compliant
How can I determine if my existing industrial ink jet printer
can be used for Mil-Std 130 UID compliance?
not all industrial ink jet printer manufacturers are knowledgeable
of the full extent of the printing capabilities of their printers.
Therefore, we recommend that you speak with both the original
printer manufacturer and a recommended system integrator experienced
in integrating that printer. System integrators tend to have
a better firsthand knowledge of individual printer capabilities.
We currently use rubber stamps to mark our product information
but are now required to direct product mark our parts with Mil-Std
130 UID compliant 2D codes. What process alternatives are available
laser etching, dot peening, electro-chemical etching and labeling
are all process alternatives capable of meeting Mil-Std 130
requirements. The first step is to review your contractual requirements
to see if a particular process has been identified by your customer.
no specific process has been defined by your customer, the next
step is to determine whether an additive or subtractive process
is preferred. An additive process is one in which the UID mark
is added to your part. Industrial ink jet printing and labeling
are additive processes. A subtractive process is one where material
is removed from the part to generate the UID mark. Examples
of subtractive processes are laser etching, dot peening and
closest process to rubber stamping is industrial ink jet printing.
Most industrial ink jet printing systems are digital ink jet
printing systems capable of printing alpha-numeric text, bar
codes, 2D codes, serial numbers and logos. Selecting the right
ink jet printer, ink and system configuration is crucial to
implementing a robust, reliable ink jet marking system alternative
to rubber stamping.
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