Herma has developed a white polyethelyene (PE) film, featuring built-in colour-changing characteristics that are activated when treated with UV lasers.

The Herma PE White UV Laser (823) film includes a proprietary feature within its construction that allows monochrome printing of variable data when a UV laser source is applied to the label surface. No coating is applied to the label surface.

Compared to thermal transfer printing the UV laser method is described as ‘resource-friendly’ and ‘efficient,’ as no other consumable materials are required and no waste is generated. A decrease in regular downtime is also a benefit with the need of changing thermal transfer ribbons being removed.

Sven Pleier, key account manager for chemicals and pharmaceuticals at Herma stated, ‘It has already been possible up until now to use lasers with special paper for the marking of labels without removing any material. However, this is not an option for most pharmaceutical products, but also for many cosmetic products solely for application and safety reasons.’

He added, ‘Thanks to the new film labels, the way is now clear to use this advantageous method in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector, regardless of whether the variable data is expiry dates, batch numbers or data matrix codes.’

In conjunction with a Domino U510 UV laser and the Herma 132M HC pharmaceutical labelling machine, the new Herma PE White UV Laser (823) film labels will be presented for the first time at Achema in Frankfurt (Hall 4.1, Stand P20).

The UV laser achieves up to 600 cycles per minute and more. With a thermal transfer printer, the limit is approximately a maximum of 300 cycles per minute.

Important for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, the printed image is smudge-proof and scratch-resistant and is also resistant to disinfectants, alcohol and grease. The labelling is tolerant of low temperatures including freezing.

Another advantage of UV laser printing is that the print image is sharp, even with the smallest font sizes. The laser allows for fonts or characters that are only 0.6mm high whereas thermal transfer printing is no longer possible at 1mm.

The dark grey lettering on the white foil labels is high in contrast making it easier to read by machines. The laser also works without any contact, which makes it maintenance-friendly.

Mr Pleier emphasised, ‘Due to their modular design of the Herma labelling machines, UV lasers are particularly easy to integrate.’

Domino has tested the new Herma labels in comprehensive laboratory tests. Volker Watzke, head of sales, life-sciences and tobacco at Domino stated, ‘They deliver very good results with our U510 lasers. Especially where precise and variable coding and marking at high speed is required, the laser and label form an unbeatable combination. The U510 UV laser completes the product portfolio in terms of the cooperation between Herma and Domino, alongside the technologies used to date, such as CO2 lasers and thermal transfer printers.’