ThermalPak™ Traversing System for Multi-Lane Multi-Row Thermal Transfer Printing

Aug. 27, 2009
Norwood Marking Systems / Allen Coding Systems introduces its new ThermalPak™ Traversing System for high-speed multi-lane, multi-row printing.  Featuring up to 14 thermal transfer print heads integrated on one common platform, the system prints multiple lanes simultaneously and quickly traverses to print multiple rows before starting the next machine cycle.  Ideal for use on a wide variety of horizontal-form-fill-seal (HFFS) and IV bag forming machines that produce multiple lanes and multiple rows of packages per cycle, the ThermalPak Traversing System maximizes production throughput and flexibility.
Each print head can print at speeds up to 9.84 inches (250 mm) per second, with multiple print heads handling multiple lanes simultaneously at this speed.  The traversing speed of up to 15.35 inches (390 mm) per second, accomplished via a servo-driven linear ball screw actuator, allows the system to print multiple rows in quick succession, achieving up to 21 cycles per minute, based on a cycle spanning 19.69 inches (500 mm) between the first row and the last.  Norwood / Allen can customize the system to handle cycles that span more than 19.69 inches (500 mm), if needed.

The ThermalPak Traversing System can be positioned either parallel with or perpendicular to the flow of the packaging film in the host equipment.  This positioning versatility helps minimize printer changeover when the host machine changes from one pattern to another.  All machine settings, including changes to printed text and graphics, can be programmed and saved in the printer’s memory for quick and easy recall in seconds.  The color touchscreen operator interface allows quick selection of recipes (printing patterns and data), the indexing motion profile, print position offsets and system positioning for resupply and maintenance.  If a lane configuration change requires print heads be repositioned, this can be accomplished easily in less than two minutes by sliding the heads along the T-slot to their new positions.

Norwood / Allen can equip the ThermalPak Traversing System with field-proven thermal transfer printers such as the TP4000, TP4100, NGT6 or NGT8 to offer the ideal number of print heads and achieve the necessary print area for each application.  From a print area of 2 inches (53 mm) wide and 7.48 inches (190 mm) long with the TP4000 to a print area up to 8.4 inches (213 mm) wide and 6.1 inches (155 mm) long with the NGT8E, each print head can be dedicated to one lane or configured to handle multiple lanes if cycle times permit.  For example, a six-lane HFFS system can be equipped with a three-head TP4000 where each print head spans two lanes. 

Developed to maximize speed and flexibility, the ThermalPak Traversing System features Optimum Time Sharing functionality.  The system indexes to the next row at the same time the print heads are returning to their starting positions.  The system moves from the first row to the last during one cycle and from the last row to the first in the subsequent cycle to minimize travel time.  Combining intermittent-motion print heads with a servo-driven linear ball screw actuator achieves the speeds necessary to match most high-speed HFFS and IV bag forming machines.

To maximize productivity at high line speeds, Norwood / Allen equips the print heads with a 4000-foot (1200M) ribbon roll, which is longer than many traditional thermal transfer printers, to reduce ribbon roll changes.  Additionally, intelligent ribbon handling eliminates ribbon waste by sequencing a number of short ribbon feed cycles and long ribbon feed cycles, depending on the application, to optimize ribbon consumption.  This technique assures that there are minimal unused areas of ribbon.