Decisions, decisions. Not sure which one you need?
Need to know the benefits and drawbacks of both technologies?
It's a tough choice, working out what technology you need. It can be steered though by identifying what you need to achieve, so let's look at that first.
If you have to apply barcode labels for the retail supply chain then your first choice should be labels. Although they are more expensive per barcode compared to ink jet printers, they tend to be more rugged and reliable on production lines and overall running costs can be lower. They are also more forgiving of operator abuse and box presentation. The retailers won't thank you greatly for sending them ink jet codes either. There are a few exceptions to choosing labels. If you have a white box and can absolutely guarantee that your carton guiding and machine maintenance will ALWAYS be top-notch, then you can use hi-res ink jet to print barcodes. However if half your labour is sub-contract and just about lasts a day before moving on, forget ink jet.
No barcodes just traceability info or sell by dates
In this case steer clear of labelling and use drop-on-demand ink jet. Low resolution valve-jet coders will put a legible imprint on most cartons. The machinery is low cost and bomb-proof and ink is not that expensive either. The code is low resolution so your marketing people may not thank you, but you can point out that it is good enough for Kellogs, Burtons Biscuits, Mars, Cadbury and most other world-class companies. However if you absolutely must have something a little prettier then...
Sell by date info but prettier
You can use high resolution ink jet printing. The wine distributors and bottlers tend to use this technology as it does look good on their white cartons and their product is high-value and can therefore absorb the on-cost of high-resolution print. Hi-res is a lot more finicky than low resolution and the ink is vastly more expensive but it can give wonderful print, in some cases as good as pre-print. However it does come at a cost. You must have good-quality white cartons to ensure the legibility of any barcodes, your conveying and guiding has to be very well maintained and the print heads are very expensive to replace if one of the 1300 microscopic print head orifices becomes blocked (which is surprisingly easy to do, especially in a dusty environment).
Of course your decisions will be based on far more criteria than we can cover here. Contact us we'll look at your products, lines, people and processes and find the right solution for you. We always recommend the right solution, as wrong solutions inevitably end in more support calls, which means our engineers spend more time sitting on motorways and getting upset by the diabolical traffic jams. Call us in today and let us help you make the right choices, so we can both be happy.