Industrial inkjet printers have come a long way since the technology's widespread introduction in the 1990s. Today's industrial inkjet printers feature the latest Windows operating system as well as similar processing, communication speeds and options as printer applicators, and, like print-and-apply label systems, a high degree of flexibility.
Many industrial inkjet systems now feature automatic cleaning for the print head, which reduces labor and extends the service life of the inkjet printer. Inkjet printer Systems without automatic cleaning typically require repair or refurbishing on average of once every ten months. Self-maintaining and self-cleaning industrial inkjet models, on average, run for more than three years before major service is required. Many of today's better inkjet printers do not require a compressed air connection, a feature that helps to reduce cost and maintenance issues.
The inkjet systems are capable of printing a four-inch high block of information and graphics, including barcodes, use by/sell by dates, lot numbers, product names, descriptions and product ingredients. The industrial inkjet systems can be specified with multiple print heads for printing on multiple sides of the case. Like the printer applicators or laser coders for case marking, inkjet printers give packagers the ability to eliminate or reduce the number of pre-printed secondary cases, which cuts material, transportation, warehousing, and material handling costs.
For high-volume, end-of-line operations where the typical barcode is 30 characters or less, today's inkjet printer may be the most effective solution. If complex graphics are not required, then neither are labels, and no labels equals lower cost. For example, it may cost 2.5 cents to print and apply two 4 inch by 6 inch labels on a case. Printing directly on the case may cost 1.25 cents per case, a savings of 50 percent. The typical industrial inkjet system costs between $20,000 and $25,000. Adding print heads to the system for printing on multiple sides of a case adds to the cost.