Thermal transfer printers are characterised by their high level of print quality and their flexibility as regards the print layout. They are therefore particularly suitable for the growing requirements of product marking, since the information content on labels is increasing continually: food information regulations demand ever more detailed information about nutritional values, and there is a growing desire for multilingual information on labels. And last but not least, QR codes are enjoying increasing popularity, since consumers can conveniently download additional product information to their smartphones, such as for example information on the origin of meat and sausage products.
Thermal transfer printers can not however achieve their maximum printing speed at the low ambient temperatures, which are prevalent in food processing. Since this also adversely affects the cycle output of the labeller, MULTIVAC has developed a SpeedUp module that consists of a servo-driven label advance and a label buffer, in which the preprinted labels are temporarily buffered.
The SpeedUp module decouples the labelling process from the printing process: the printer is therefore also able to print while the labeller is at a standstill. The printed labels are advanced into the loop that serves as the buffer, are removed from the dispensing edge and then applied at maximum speed to the packs. This means that the overall line output is no longer adversely affected by the thermal transfer printer. As an option, the SpeedUp module can be extended with a holding device for an inkjet printer for simple marking tasks. In this case, there are then two printing processes available on the one line.
Thanks to the combination of the SpeedUp module and the MULTIVAC TTO printers, customers can now benefit from the advantages of thermal transfer printers even at low temperatures. Due to their intermittent operation, TTO printers are capable of being turned, so that they can print in either the longitudinal or cross direction relative to the running direction of the label. This means that the thermal transfer ribbon is used to its optimum for each print layout. Together with the only 0.5 mm gap between each print impression, this results in significant savings in ribbon consumption. If a thermal transfer ribbon with a length of 1,000 metres is chosen, as is the case for example with the TTO 10, then down-time for ribbon change is also reduced significantly.
Other benefits of these high-performance printers that are capable of being used very flexibly: they can be completely integrated into the MULTIVAC machine control and operated via the HMI 2.0 user interface of the packaging machine. Recipes are downloaded reliably and in a user-friendly way. The print layouts are managed centrally and assigned to the individual recipes, and they are loaded directly with the recipe itself. This means that incorrect labelling due to selection of the wrong label can be avoided. Since no separate printer control terminal or connection cables are required, the TTO printers also stand out from the rest due to their high level of hygiene.