by Jeffrey BRADLEY
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Expert Insider: How the thermal transfer printer continues to innovate to meet the changing needs of industry

From being the first company to propel the thermal transfer printer (TTO) to widespread market recognition more than 30 years ago to leading the industry today with our comprehensive series of SmartDate® coders, we understand why it remains the solution of choice for many industries. Not only is TTO fast enough for the highest production speeds in flexible film packaging, but it continues to evolve with industry needs. As well as being extremely reliable, TTO is also easy to use and to install and integrate with production equipment.  

Meeting complex requirements 

From ensuring food safety on the production line to maintaining quality while turning product around within competitive timescales, the food and drink sector has complex requirements. The thermal transfer printer is key to meeting these needs. TTO offers a two-fold level of reliability which is particularly valuable in the food industry and similar sectors - one: it rarely breaks down, and two: it doesn’t deteriorate in terms of clarity of print and variation from batch-to-batch or ribbon-to-ribbon.  

Evolving for the sustainability agenda 

Sustainability continues to be a growing concern for pretty much all areas of industry – and where industry goes, TTO goes too. We’re seeing the increasing use of paper-based, or paper-like, substrates. While this is good news for the environment, it does pose fresh challenges for companies.  

To help our customers address these issues and meet their growing sustainability priorities, our SmartDate® Xtreme Plus printhead enables printing on paper and paper-like substrates. The SmartDate® Xtreme Plus brings more print capability to the thermal transfer printer by allowing companies to print exceptionally durable and clear codes with high-resin ribbons, to enhance durability without sacrificing throughput. But the SmartDate® Xtreme Plus is much more than a printhead. It’s an innovation at the heart of technology, offering the fastest solution in the world. We are proud to be the first TTO coding solutions provider to introduce that level of capability to the market. 

Taking innovation to the Xtreme  

The SmartDate® Xtreme Plus broadens the scope of our support for customers because it allows systems to operate effectively at different speeds and levels of print quality. Instead of having to operate TTO at performance levels which risk the printer being burned out in order to match the rest of the production line, the SmartDate® Xtreme Plus can operate more effectively and reliably, and at speeds that couldn’t previously be achieved. 

To make that happen, we had to redesign the whole printing solution. Our strong relationships with our partners were critical to the development of the SmartDate® Xtreme Plus’ class-leading performance. 

To satisfy ever-increasing demand for marking solutions for newer recyclable substrates to improve sustainability KPIs, we designed the SmartDate® Xtra 3530 ribbon, which will complement Markem-Imaje’s existing and successful SmartDate® Xtra 3750 ribbon, (formerly known as SmartDate® Xpert 3750).  The newly-released ribbon was specifically developed  to print on paper-based substrates and is available in a wide range of widths and lengths to suit manufacturer needs. 

Through this approach to innovation, our thermal transfer printer and other solutions are evolving to help companies keep up with new challenges and opportunities. 

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