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Virtual labelling process uses colour change chemistry

Sherwood Technology, developer of the DataLase colour change process for print and packaging, has launched a "radical" system which it says eliminates the need to apply variable data print-and-apply labels in the distribution chain by incorporating a responsive coating or "virtual label" into packaging materials such as cartons, cases and overwraps.

Designed to offer end users significant cost savings, DataLase is a “non-toxic, environmentally friendly” ink coating or additive that produces a positive image when marked by a low power CO2 laser. The ink, coating etc undergoes a simple chemical colour change, creating a “stable, high contrast image”.

With the new “Virtual Label” system DataLase is incorporated into, or coated onto, the substrate during manufacture. Alternatively converters can introduce it using most patch printing or flood coating processes. Sherwood says the resulting laser-responsive surface becomes an integral part of the packaging. On the packaging line, “highly reliable”, low power CO2 lasers then rapidly produce images such as barcodes, logos and graphics directly onto the pre-treated surface.

Applications marketing manager Andrew Jackson adds: “Many brand manufacturers already user low level laser marking for date coding, and are now expressing great interest in running production trials.” The process is compatible with most print processes, although users may need to make minor modifications to coating units and use heavier anilox rollers or cylinders for optimal results.