GEA integrates laser marking systems into its thermoforming packaging machines

Traceability guaranteed
GEA integrates laser marking systems into its thermoforming packaging machines

GEA PowerPak PLUS packaging solution

Photo - GEA

The food industry is increasingly relying on laser technology for product labeling. To apply complex product information in a high-resolution and reliable manner, GEA integrates corresponding laser marking systems into the GEA thermoforming machines of the PowerPak series in cooperation with various suppliers on a customer-specific basis.

“Demand for laser marking systems is rising sharply,” says Volker Sassmannshausen, senior product manager Thermoforming at GEA in Wallau, Germany. “While packaging has to provide growing volumes of product information for end customers, it also has to ensure that products are fully traceable at all times. Applying a QR code with a laser is a solution with plenty of advantages.”

The GEA technology experts take an end-to-end approach to designing individual solutions. That includes overseeing everything from selecting the laser supplier and initial film test to optimally positioning the laser in the packaging line.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Sealing station inside GEA PowerPak PLUS thermoforming packaging machine with integrated laser marking system</p></div>

Sealing station inside GEA PowerPak PLUS thermoforming packaging machine with integrated laser marking system

Photo - GEA

Lasers – the swift, sustainable solution

The complex codes can encode large amounts of data on a very small area. They can be applied to the packaging by laser at high printing speeds. The bundled light creates long-lasting markings on the top film impervious to external influences, including heat, abrasion and water. As lasers don’t require consumables such as labels and ink, they have impressive sustainability credentials. Lasers are ideal as marking systems in the food and beverage packaging industry since they work just as well in dusty and moist operating environments.

Flexible laser placement

Different packaging processes require different approaches. Depending on production batch sizes, it’s possible to either mark the top film feed in advance or once it has passed through the thermoformer’s sealing station but before the finished packaging units are cut apart.

For instance, a food industry customer opted for a laser marking system from Videojet to accompany its GEA thermoforming packaging machine. The chosen CO2 laser solution was integrated at the GEA PowerPak system’s sealing station to print the top film before it is joined to the bottom tray. There is no increase in production time despite the additional processing step because labeling is accommodated within the integrated production process cycle.

Increased efficiency thanks to fewer film changes

When packaging similar products, using a laser can significantly boost machine efficiency since the only changes necessary are the ingredient lists, which can be accessed in the database. This means there is no need to switch to previously marked films in each case. Thanks to the reduced number of film changes, setup times are cut down. And that’s not all. The cost of consumables also decreases because they can be ordered in large quantities.

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