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Supermarket supplier Cumbrian Seafoods produce over 200 lines of fresh fish, shellfish, coated and added-value products. To meet stringent supermarket and end user requirements, the clear permanent marking of containers is vital. With the aid of coding and marking specialist Imaje, they have overcome problems in marking polypropylene tubs.

The original challenges of condensation and product contamination on the coding surface and mark permanence were solved using the latest Imaje marking solution. This replaces the traditional ink jet coding machines with advanced Lightjet Vector lasers. Two machines are in use on parallel lines at Cumbrian, each marking at rates of 4000 tubs per hour. The laser etches the plastic surface so the marks are permanent, tamper proof and not affected by any moisture or oil film on the surface.

Ink based markings on polypropylene can smear and degrade character definition. Cumbrian's technical director, Bob Fleming explained, "Our supermarket customers are demanding. They like the high integrity marking from the lasers because it gives traceability back to the plant and batch, along with clear shelf-life and eat-by instructions. We benefit by eliminating returns."

The Imaje Lightjet Vector is made for demanding environments. It uses a high quality laser source from Rofin-Sinar Inc, a world leader in reliable industrial lasers. The Imaje Lightjet will give dependable service, even in harsh areas, improving line uptime and plant productivity. Imaje provide a three year warranty on the totally sealed laser.

Many fonts are available. While variable message marking including text, date, logo, time and so on, can be imprinted using the fully scribing laser beam. Up to 30 lines of text can be printed from an extended library of vectorised fonts. Even complex logos are possible. The machines are easy to customise to each marking task because of their multi position articulated arm.

Automatic counters on the machines, with full data logging, enable the marking process to be verified to meet audit, management and QA requirements. Set up and programming of the machines can be done from the control panel or remotely via auto coding systems and software.

The large print area available with the Lightjet, coupled with the easy to use software, allows many different sizes of containers to be marked. There is no need to adjust the print head with each change of product or container so set up and costly line downtime are reduced significantly.

Costs of ownership and use are low. There are no consumables so the need to hold or monitor ink and additive stocks is eliminated, bringing large savings on running costs. The power rating of the Vector laser is just 200W. Not using solvented ink in the production area also removes a health, safety and storage concern. Solvents can also be a source of odour that is unwelcome when processing delicate foods.

Cumbrian Seafoods process over 7500 tonnes of fish each year. Their lines are always buzzing to keep up with supermarket orders, especially at busy seasonal times such as Easter and Christmas. With the new Lightjet Vector lasers from Imaje they are assured freedom from stoppages while achieving clear permanent marking.

Imaje are the worlds leading manufacturer of coding and marking solutions and are part of the Dover Corporation with an annual turnover of $4,500m. Imaje offer a total solutions package that includes laser marking (vector and dot matrix machines), continuous ink jet printing, large character outer case coding, and print and apply labelling. As companies are seeing the benefits of networking coding and marking, Imaje are also offer a complete auto coding network package.

More information: Mike Hughes, Managing Director, Imaje UK Ltd, Tel. +44 (0)1928 599 420
Fax. +44 (0)1928 599 425 E-mail: Web:

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