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Article | January 31, 2002
Ink-jet upgrade for R.J. Reynolds
In a project involving multiple cigarette-making plants, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of Winston-Salem, NC, recently made a major investment in ink-jet case printers supplied by FoxJet (Arlington, TX).
“Clarity of print was the key objective” says project manager Ronnie Melton.
“Flexibility and cost were also factors” adds engineer Hung Phan.
The human-readable coding that Reynolds sought to upgrade is basically product ID and lot/date code (the bottom line of print in photo). It’s printed on all corrugated cases of the firm’s cigarettes. “It’s strictly for internal use” says Melton “for tracking purposes.”
Until the Foxjet systems were installed Reynolds used conventional ink-jet printers to code its corrugated cases. But clarity was lacking so management sought an improvement.
Before selecting any new equipment the company brought in printers from three different manufacturers for a six-month trial. It then made FoxJet its vendor of choice. By the end of 2000 it had installed more than 70 FoxJet Model 7200 controllers each driving two large-character AlphaCoder™ printhead/ink systems with a print resolution of 75 dpi. Communications ports built into the FoxJet systems combined with software written in-house by Reynolds makes it possible to send print jobs to the printers from remote locations.
According to Melton and Phan the key difference between Reynolds’ old and new ink-jet equipment is that the older valve-jet technology relied too much on actuators and air pumps that invite mechanical failure. The AlphaCoder system on the other hand utilizes piezoelectric crystals for ink droplet ejection. “It’s a solid state technology” says Melton as opposed to the now outdated valve-jet technology. (PR)
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