Archives for posts with tag: printing

The history of barcode printing goes back in 1948 and features Bernard Silver, a graduate student and his friend Norman Woodland. The demand for a system that would automatically read product information during checkout came from the president of Food Fair, the local food chain in Philadelphia.

Using Morse code as inspiration, Woodland and Silver proceeded with their ideas, and in 1949 filed a patent application for a new system of printing patterns and reading system. Two years later, Woodland moved to IBM and tried to interest the company in developing the system.

Despite the interest, the conclusion was that it would take patience for more adequate technology to be developed in the future.

The next person to work on what we nowadays know as barcode was David Collins. As he was working at Pennsylvania Railroad, he became aware of the need to automatically identify railroad cars. He developed an interesting method using blue and yellow reflective stripes attached to the side of the cars, encoding a six digit company identifier and a four-digit car number. Light reflected off the stripes was fed into one of two photomultipliers, filtered for blue or yellow. This system had its faults, but was another step that contributed to the universal adoption of the barcodes.

In 1971 IBM remembered they still employed Woodland, so a new facility in North Carolina was established. Gradually, after failures and improvements, the barcode started to be adopted by more and more commercial chains, especially after exact data regarding the return on investment for a barcode scanner became available.

As expected, extremists and supports of the conspiracy theory did not greet the barcodes very friendly. But their advantages eventually neutralized extreme opinions.

Resource: Wikipedia

Barcode labels are extremely useful. They can be used to keep track of patients (medical history, allergies), rental cars, airline luggage and you name it. Recent advanced technology makes it possible for barcodes to be printed and labelled, respecting a very high level of accuracy.

Labelling is a very important process that has come a long way from a mere piece of paper stating the product name, to a precise label that must contain detailed and real information. Knowing that there is advanced technology you can rely on is very important. ALS, Advanced Labelling Systems offers a range of fast, reliable and economic label printers that answer today’s needs of being informed.

ALS Fast Labeller

From the seed that is planted by some blistered hands to the product that is displayed on a shop shelf, there is a long way of hard work, profits and losses. Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is aimed at improving farmers’ lives. It targets small communities, gives shoppers the opportunity to reduce poverty through a simple purchase. Although the initiative was more than laudable, something else was needed to make the small community shops more connected and responding to the demands of the supermarket chains that owned the majority of consumers.

The solution was found in 1988, when the first Fairtrade label, Max Havelaar, was launched under the initiative of Nico Roozen, Frans van der Hoff and Dutch ecumenical development agency Solidaridad. The independent certification allowed the goods to reach the supermarkets. Fairtrade labelling allowed consumers and distributors alike to track the origin of the goods and make sure they benefited the farmers at the end of the chain. Label printers make it possible for other business to use the label, but its use on packaging requires prior license agreement.

In 1997, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) was created, with the goal of inspecting that the standards were met across all countries that had adopted the system.

In 2002 FLO launched a new International Fairtrade Certification Mark aiming at increased shelf visibility and easier cross border processes.

At present, there are Fairtrade Certification Marks on many products, the most popular being coffee, tea, bananas, mangoes, cotton, etc.  There are an estimated 14 million people in the developing world that depend on cocoa production. 90% of cocoa is grown and harvested on small family farms of 5 hectares or less, while only 5% comes from larger plantations. Coffee, so much in demand, and so much a product we are used to, requires a lot of hard work. It takes four years for a coffee plant to yield fruit.

The reputation of fair trade has soured over the past few years and more and more young people and children are educated in this direction.

Fairtrade is an example to understand the value of a label. It can enrich a life, financially speaking, it can save one, in the case of food labels, it can help shape the prestige of a brand.

Maybe not that poetic, it is industrial labelling that helps a message – information or brand, get conveyed.

It all started in the 15th century when the skilled Johannes Gutenberg devised the movable type printing technology. This was the first major revolution that determined the course of culture and communication. Centuries later, we have the photocopier, the thermal printer and the laser printer.

A thermal printer produces a printed image by selectively heating coated thermal paper when the paper passes over the thermal print head. The coating turns black where heated and an image is thus produced.

In theory, it sounds easy, and even in practice this is easy, but only because others thought hard of how to make this mechanism possible. One of the reasons it’s possible and so easy is due to the thermal print head which is responsible for a line of controlled dots of heat which will produce an image in conjunction with heat sensitive ribbons or paper.

Since they are direct responsible for the actual image we can see on various items, mainly labels, the quality of the thermal print heads has to be one of the best. Let’s just say they have to cope with a very demanding and fast paced environment. Not properly maintained or badly manufactured, they will generate text that is difficult to read, unacceptable now when consumers have to be informed as most accurately as possible about the product they are about to purchase.

How Does Thermal Transfer Ribbon Work?

Thermal transfer printing is a fast and clean process with no warm-up or cooling time required. It is not a wet or dirty process either and the results are instantly dry, requiring no curing. By using a single-pass ribbon, the print is perfect from the start to the very end of a roll, making it the standard for producing barcodes and variable information labels, on-demand.

A thermal transfer label printer from the likes of Avery, Sato, TEC, Zebra etc produces text, barcodes and graphics by using a fixed low-powered print head which spans the entire width of the print area. The print head comprises of a single row of thousands of tiny elements (“dots”) of a size typically 8 or 12 dots per millimetre, yielding a print resolution of 200dpi or 300dpi – but even 600dpi is available.

The Difference Between “Direct Thermal” and “Thermal Transfer”:

A Direct Thermal printer uses the heat from the dots in the print head to activate a chemical coating in a specially produced thermal label, which darkens the area in contact with each dot, in order to produce the label image.  A Thermal Transfer printer uses a thermal ribbon:-

Thermal transfer ribbon is a roll of clear plastic (PE) film coated on one side with a coloured pigment, or “ink”, most commonly black (although many colours are available). Depending on the printing requirements, the coating can be formulated using either wax, resin or a mixture of both. The thermal transfer ribbon passes over the thermal print head, with the coated side pressed against the label surface. The heat energy produced by each dot causes the pigment to transfer off the carrier film and bond to the surface of the label.

The element dots which make up the print head are electronically heated up and cooled rapidly by the printer as both the label and ribbon pass under it at the same time. Speeds of 300mm per second and faster are quite achievable with the right match of ribbon, label and printer.