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Pharmaceutical printing and the advantages of UV inkjet systems

The pharmaceutical industry is heavily reliant on unique labeling to combat the dangers and economic losses surrounding the trade of counterfeit drugs. Therefore, pharmaceutical printing is an essential part of the production chain, establishing the need for suitable printing systems in the industry.

UV inkjet printing systems provide the high performance, flexibility and reliability needed to ensure consistency and efficiency in pharmaceutical printing. Read on to learn more about the advantages of UV inkjet systems in pharmaceutical printing.

What is a UV inkjet printer?

A UV inkjet printer is a printer that uses a UV digital printing process to apply a 2D digital image to a 3D object. The printer does this by propelling tiny droplets of ink onto e.g. paper, glass, metal, plastic, or other substrates.

The ink droplets then form an image through the use of what is known as a “printhead”: an ink delivery system. The image—which is an exact representation of the digital image—is sent digitally to the printer through the use of a computer.

Each printhead is uniquely designed, which allows UV inkjet printers to be used on nearly any substrate. This makes these printers highly useful in a wide variety of industries. Prominent examples include electronics, industrial goods, promotional products and the primary focus of this entry: pharmaceuticals.

How UV inkjet printing works

UV inkjet printing begins with a digital image file being sent to the printer. The printhead then uses its own software to signal each color to “fire.” Tiny droplets of ink are then propelled onto the chosen substrate in a specific order to form the image being printed.

Once the droplets of ink have formed the image, an ultraviolet (UV) light shines on the wet ink in order to instantly cure it. This prevents the ink droplets from bleeding, thus preventing the ink from spreading or bleeding.

Traceable and tamper-proof: pharmaceutical printing requirements and the advantages of UV inkjet printers

As mentioned above, UV inkjet printing is utilized across a wide range of industries including pharmaceuticals. There are certain requirements for equipment and printing systems in pharmaceutical printing which make UV inkjet printers particularly suitable for this purpose.

Pharmaceutical printing is a fundamental part of the production chain. It enables the printing of a serialized DataMatrix code on labels, foil, cartons, leaflets and more, which prove the authenticity of the product and thus work to combat the sale of counterfeit drugs.

The DataMatrix code—a barcode that stores more data—is a Unique Identifier (UID) that is traceable and tamper-proof. It contains the following information in machine-readable form:

  • The drug manufacturer’s code,
  • A unique serial number which proves the authenticity of the product,
  • A unique batch designation,
  • A number for reimbursement, where applicable and
  • The expiration date of the product

UV inkjet printers in pharmaceutical printing make it possible to print this information in the highest quality, allowing physicians, pharmacists and patients to read and evaluate product information without technical aids.

This way, pharmaceutical printing protects patients from the dangers of counterfeit drugs and simultaneously helps to prevent great economic losses in the pharmaceutical industry.

Advantages of UV inkjet printers in pharmaceutical printing

Besides the ability to print DataMatrix codes containing more data than the average barcode, there are many advantages to utilizing UV inkjet printers in pharmaceutical print.

Providing very good legibility, high contrast and a permanent, durable solution, UV inkjet printing ensures consistent print quality and efficient print production.

UV inkjet printing is a non-contact printing process and does not require a fixed printing plate. This makes inkjet systems particularly well-suited for coding and labeling different forms of packaging efficiently and at high speed.

The digital printing process also allows you to implement customized features like “just in time-printing”. In this form of printing, variable data—such as the product expiration date—is printed after the product is ordered. This helps to reduce waste and lower environmental costs. Further, producing large batches while customized data only once the order has been placed will ultimately also result in higher cost efficiency.

Learn more about PPS printing solutions here.