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Coding and marking technologies Hot foil, Thermal Transfer and Thermal Ink Jet

At Rotech we aim to provide cost-effective coding and marking solutions to a wide range of customers in the packaging and allied industries. Through innovative design and strong links with our suppliers we strive to provide the highest levels of quality, service, and reliability while reducing costs and delivery times.
Our philosophy is one of working in partnership with our customers to become their co-workers in coding.

We review the three printing processes within Rotech’s portfolio:

Hot Foil
Thermal Transfer
Thermal Ink Jet

Although not exhaustive generally provide solutions to a wide range of applications. We aim to provide the technology that best suits the applications requirement and not push what we have regardless of the customer’s need.
Were not a “box shifter” supplying large volumes of standard kit and have built a reputation around our ability to apply the technologies to bespoke applications.

If we cannot supply what you need we work with a select number of partners in the industry and would aim to, at the very least point you in the right direction. This, we believe will stand us in good stead next time you have a coding or marking problem.

Hot foil printing (sometimes called hot stamping due to its use of heat & pressure) is a speciality printing process where a pigment is applied to a substrate using a heated die. There is a huge range of hot stamping foils available, and the applications for this process are many and varied. Foil is used to decorate a variety of materials and for many purposes, from pure product decoration, to date and batch coding of products. Rotech’s technology concentrates on the later where a smaller machine footprint and higher speeds are generally required.

Foil Construction
Hot stamping foils are made up of a number of layers;
Carrier film
Release coating
Colour coating
Metallised coating (metallic colours)
Size (adhesive) coating
When a hot die (usually engraved in brass or steel) is brought into contact with the foil and the product to be printed, the heat activates the release coating only in the contacted areas, and also activates the size (adhesive) layer allowing the foil to adhere to the chosen substrate. A simple process that gives some stunning results!

There are foils designed for a huge variety of substrates, and the differences between these are their release qualities; some foils are formulated to release at low or high temperatures to cater for different requirements, adhesive qualities; to adhere to either rough or smooth surfaces and so on. There really aren't many substrates that can't be foiled with one grade or another!

The Rotech Hot Foil printers can easily be mounted in packaging machines and label dispensers, used manually by mounting in a table stand, or fitted to one of our off line machines.
Its many features are tailored to maximise quality and efficiency, e.g. foil run-out/break warning, quick-change foil magazine, wide range of type systems, print area up to 60 x 20mm and a high print speed.

The thermal transfer printing process uses thermal energy created by a by a ceramic printhead which contains special tiny heating elements smaller than a grain of sand. Because these elements are ceramic they have the ability to heat up and cool down very quickly. These thermal printheads transfer a special ink coating onto the substrate.
The thermally activated ink coating is made up using a wax or resin formulation, or various combinations, and carbon black (in the case of black ink), and is applied from a carrier film or ribbon. A roll of thermal transfer ribbon (TTR) is loaded into the label printer, bar code printer (or 'print engine' in the case of a print-and-apply label applicator or direct thermal transfer printer).
As the thermal transfer ribbon passes across the face of the printhead, the ceramic elements in the printhead are energised and the heat produced activates the ink coating, transferring it onto the substrate. The ink is transferred in a series of tiny square dots. With the help of computer software, these dots are printed in a matrix to form bar codes, alpha or numeric fonts, or graphic images, freely designed on your computer.

Because this is a digital technology, thermal transfer coders can print real-time information in addition to graphics and bar codes. Thermal transfer technology can print on a wide variety of stationary or moving substrates, so it’s ideal for intermittent or continuous packaging lines.

Thermal Transfer printers are widely used for both on line and off-line printing throughout the packaging industry. The flexibility of a programmable printer means that these devices can be used as a bar code printer (including RSS), graphics printer or date coder with the advantage of auto codes for time and expiry dates.

The EasyPrint range of Bell-Mark Thermal Printers are available in 3 versions:

Intermittent for bag makers, labellers and sachet machines
Continuous for flow-wrappers and Rotech’s Off-line feeding systems
Multi-lane for thermoforming machines.

All versions are available with either a 53mm or 128mm wide printhead.

Rotech also offer a range of Thermal Ribbons to ensure the highest quality of print on a wide range of packaging materials.

Thermal inkjet printers at the most basic level place small drops of ink onto the substrate. Inkjet printers are considered a type of non contact printer, as opposed hot foil or thermal transfer, since the ink is transferred to the substrate by way of nozzles.
There are different methods that inkjet printers often employ, we use the thermal inkjet bubblejet type of printer that handles things quite differently from the other methods.

With the bubblejet, resistors create heat, which then creates a bubble in the ink. The bubble expands and forces ink out from the nozzle. Eventually, it will collapse, drawing more ink into the cartridge. On average, a bubblejet printer will have a range of three hundred to six hundred nozzles.
This method is used by the majority of “home and office printer” manufacturers where these printers are mass produced. More recently the technology has moved into the commercial printing environment.

The Rotech Eurojet® is a high resolution ink jet printer that employs the same technology used in office ink-jet printers to offer a clean, highly reliable, piece of printing equipment that requires no solvents.

Whenever the inkjet print cartridge is changed, so is the print-head, making for an exceptionally low-maintenance system. A range of ink permits a quick-drying mark to be made on a wide range of paper and card-based packaging materials.

It features very high resolution (up to 600 dpi, very high by coding machine standards); graphic-quality printing of bar codes, logos, text etc; totally clean ink-replenishment (just as in an office printer using a sealed ink-system. No bottles, no pouring, no spillages, no mess); high speed capability (up to 150m/min).

One key advantage of this system is that the entire print head is changed with the ink cartridge, so ensuring continued trouble free, high quality printing.

The Rotech Eurojet® uses standard Hewlett Packard print cartridges that are available both from Rotech and from most computer accessory shops.

For the lowest possible ink cost, Rotech can supply a large capacity ink reservoir that simply replaces the standard cartridges.

Further information can be obtained from:
Rotech Machines Ltd.
+44 (0)1707 393700

About the Author: Rotech’s range of coding and marking technologies including hot foil, thermal and thermal ink jet mean we can print onto ANY packaging whatsoever using either on or off line printers. And by any material we mean: from paper to vinyl labels, medical pouches and papers including tyvek, blister cards both varnished and unvarnished, we can print sleeves and cartons, seed packets and bags

For further information visit our web site or email us

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