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Clearer laser coding for glass bottles

Linx Printing Technologies claims its latest Visicode technology delivers a much clearer code onto cold glass, and will keep bottlers’ running costs low without compromising on line speed

The new technology is a central component of Linx’s SL301 Scribing Laser coder, which the company believes is the fastest, most cost-effective and versatile coder available to the bottling industry.

A change in the pulse frequency encourages the formation of micro cracks in the top layer of cold glass to increase the visibility of the mark. Different types of glass used for specific market sectors (such as spirits or wine bottles) require a specific pulse frequency to produce optimal contrast, but in all cases the strength of the glass is not reduced.

To achieve effective contrast, the pulse frequency must also be balanced against the marking speed, to produce the correct amount of micro cracking on the glass.

An added benefit is that, due to the nature of how micro cracks evolve on the surface of the glass, Linx can produce the code with less power than is normal for this type of application. As a result, the use of Visicode can greatly contribute to a longer tube life (up to 45,000 hours – the longest on the market, the company says), higher throughput and lower running costs.

This is one of several design features of the Linx SL301 that have been developed to minimise maintenance and downtime, as Rob Peacham, UK Laser business development manager, explains: “Linx Visicode represents a significant breakthrough in glass coding, in that it uses the coldness of the substrate to encourage micro cracks for a clearer, higher contrast code. The Linx SL301 is extremely reliable even in the most demanding factory environments. As a result, service intervals are typically twice that of the industry standard.”

This makes it ideal for coding many different types of packaging, particularly bottles used for drinks. The coder can be customised to suit individual applications for optimum compatibility and is also suitable for coding a wide range of substrates in addition to glass, such as PET and other plastics.

Investment in digital galvos with near-instantaneous response times has helped to ensure it is the fastest laser coder on the market, increasing productivity over competition by more than 15% while maintaining a high quality result. With the widest number of marking head and lens options available, the laser has more time to code, enabling customers to code more information onto each bottle, or save laser energy for more economic operation.

The efficiency of the cooling system allows the IP54-rated version of the coder not to use expensive factory air for cooling. A blower unit is required only for the optional IP65-rated laser for environments where washdown is critical.
With two tube wavelength options and the extensive choice of marking heads and lenses, the coder can be fine tuned to make better use of laser power and improve performance. This versatility is enhanced by a number of features .
An optional QuickSwitch allows fast and easy code changes using a barcode scanner or other external device. For applications coding on a label station, Label Enable ensures that the laser is triggered at just the right moment.

 “The Linx SL301 is the only laser that gives the customer a range of features in one laser, for unparalleled versatility,” concludes Rob Peacham. “With its balance between speed, economic running and user-friendly operation, we believe that it provides the best of all worlds for bottling applications.”






1 February 2011 - Felicity Murray