Software incompatibility is one of the biggest bugaboos in business, and packaging is no exception. Graphics are a particular challenge; often the most popular formats are not supported by the software that actually runs the equipment.
FOX IV Technologies has solved this problem for its new label printer-applicator by enabling it to use PDF files directly. Mailing/address labels, packing slips and other labels that usually use barcodes can now be printed directly from PDF documents with a software option available for the new 5610 model.
“The industrial printers in common use in print-and-apply would not accept PDF files for printing,” says Catherine Hornsby, marketing communications manager for FOX IV Technologies. “The files had to be converted, using some type of middleware, to the format accepted by the printers. The 5610 has a PDF option that allows printing directly from PDF files without the use of middleware. This is especially useful to print directly from an ERP [enterprise resource planning] system that generates the shipping/order information in PDF format.”
Besides eliminating the complexity and extra steps associated with printer drivers and middleware platforms, being able to handle PDFs directly simplifies operations in other ways. PDFs are easier to store in their original form for retrieval and reprinting. The label can be printed at the intended size, eliminating the need to scale documents.
Printing labels at their original size makes them easier to compose and eliminates potential problems of legibility. Those could apply to both the text and the barcode, although Hornsby notes that there is a certain flexibility in the latter. GS1 specifications give the acceptable scale for a barcode as 80% to 200% of nominal size, and “if the barcode is to be used for an application inside a company—or if an agreement exists between companies—practically any barcode and scale can be handled,” she says.
The direct-from-PDF option costs “under $450,” Hornsby says. Other features of the 5610 include a large, icon based, 7-inch full color HMI, two USB host ports, a 16-inch OD (outside diameter) label roll capacity for high-volume applications, a repositionable control box and optional RFID encoding.
The 5610 print-and-apply system will be introduced in Booth N-5424 at this year’s Pack Expo (Oct. 14-17; Chicago).