Flexibility, reliability and high quality codes are the major benefits of four Linx 8900 Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printers installed at specialist manufacturer and contract packer Micromix Plant Health in Nottingham.
Micromix develops chemical formulations and manufactures a wide range of crop and plant nutrition products, as well as offering a contract packing operation. As a result, it has a variety of coding requirements for different pack formats including bottles, buckets and boxes.
The company had previously used an alternative CIJ coder, which had proved unreliable and was messy to operate. Hand applied labels, meanwhile, were inflexible, offered a limited area for printed information and carried the risk of coming off the containers. This was a particular concern for certain herbicides and pesticides, where regulations require long-lasting batch and traceability codes. Micromix was also seeing demands from customers for enhanced product branding through better quality codes.
The Linx 8900 has the flexibility to print crisp and durable single, two and three line codes in line with Micromix’s different requirements. Importantly, the coder can print in any orientation, for example on the neck of a bottle, on the side or underneath, and can easily be moved around the factory in line with changing production requirements.
The printer is able to code onto both plastic (HDPE and PET) and cardboard substrates. For certain products, one Linx 8900 is used to print the same batch code onto bottles and the boxes into which they are then packed. The coders use Linx Black mixed base ink 3103 as recommended by Linx. This provides excellent adherence and durability across all substrates and is also highly resistant to removal by a variety of substances including acid, alkali, detergent, petrol and water.
The Linx 8900 features Linx’s industry-leading sealed printhead which can function in even the harshest factory conditions and typically only needs to be cleaned every three months. This is a particular benefit for one of Micromix’s contract packing operations repacking cement into buckets where the environment is very dusty. In addition, Linx’s proven autoflush system thoroughly cleans the printhead every time the printer is shut down, which ensures a fast and clean start-up.
Another important benefit for Micromix is the ease of use of the Linx 8900. The large high resolution touch screen ensures simple and error-free operation and can store multiple line settings for fast and easy setup in different coding locations. The top screen is customisable to provide quick access to regularly used functions. Ink and solvent refilling is also clean and easy.
“Our operators really like the 8900s,” comments Micromix’s Works Manager Chris Hardy. “They are easy to programme, and print every time without fail, so the bottles are going through more quickly and smoothly, and the printing is a lot neater and more readable than our old batch printers.”
Micromix produces and packs around 2.5m litres of product each year. The Linx printers are in continuous operation throughout a nine hour shift five days a week, and have delivered a more efficient use of consumables, including saving on label costs, while spend on fluids has also gone down.
“Since we’ve been using the Linx 8900 printers we have found them to be extremely flexible and reliable in all the coding situations we come across,” says Micromix’s Account Manager Clive Baker. “Efficiency has improved overall while the backup from Linx has also been good. We are confident that the printers will continue to meet all our requirements going forward.”