Carton printer tackles tough tasks

Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Carton printer tackles tough tasks

Printing on cartons in an ice cream plant is a challenge. It's wet and cold, and equipment is washed down frequently. "We had tried other printers with limited success," says Don Heffner, general manager, Pierre's French Ice Cream Co., Cleveland.

147855-0402pierre2.jpg To solve these problems, in February, '01, Pierre's installed a Model S4 IP65 ink-jet printer from Imaje U.S.A. Says Heffner, "I saw the Imaje printers at a packaging show, and one feature that immediately caught my eye was a model that was resistant to harsh environments. The cabinet and printhead are pressurized with air to keep out water and other contaminants." Heffner brought in a demo unit equipped to meet the IP65 regulation for harsh environments, and it worked so well that he purchased the Model S4 IP65. "We occasionally remove the printhead and clean it with solvent, but other than that, it hasn't required any service since we installed it a year ago," he says.

The ink-jet printer, top, can be easily moved from line to line. Pierre's prints on frozen custard pints, far left and above, and on round paper and plastic quarts, square-round half-gals, above, and 5-qt plastic pails.

Typical of many of today's leading ice cream companies, Pierre's started as an ice cream parlor in 1932, in this case, emphasizing French-style ice cream, which incorporates a touch of pasteurized egg yolks to achieve its rich, creamy texture. The company grew over the years, and in 1995, built a new state-of-the-art office and distribution facility not far from the original store. Pierre's currently produces 235 different products and flavors on four packaging lines.

The Imaje unit was purchased specifically to print line numbers, Julian dates and times on Pierre's new line of round pints of frozen custard. However, the control cabinet is mounted on wheels, so the unit can be easily moved from place-to-place, as needed. Pierre's moves it between four locations on two packaging lines, where, in addition to the frozen custard pints, it prints on round paper and plastic quarts, square-round half-gals, and 5-qt plastic pails. The printhead can be mounted in any position, so the unit can print on the tops of the packages, or either vertically or horizontally on their sides. "The printer is easy to program, and we can put the operating parameters into a file, so we can easily recall them when we run different products," says Heffner. The controls include auto-diagnosis of problems and a service-help menu.

The IP65 designation is a European standard that conforms to NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Assn.) 4. "The printer has never been down during the entire time we've had it, and we've never needed a service call. It has just done an excellent job," says Heffner. "In fact, we're so satisfied that we've purchased a Model S8 IP65 [advanced model] for our other packaging line."

More information is available: Ink-jet printer: Imaje U.S.A., 770/421-7700. Circle No. 218.

About the Author(s)

Jack Mans

Plant Operations Editor

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