Gea integrates laser marking systems into thermoforming packaging machines

Gea PowerPak system. Photo Gea

The food industry is increasingly relying on laser technology for product labeling. In order to apply complex product information reliably and with high resolution, Gea integrates the corresponding laser marking systems into the Gea thermoforming PowerPak series machines in cooperation with various suppliers on a customer-specific basis.

“The demand for laser marking systems is growing strongly,” says Volker Sassmannshausen, Senior Product Manager Thermoforming at Gea in Wallau, Germany. “While packaging must provide increasing volumes of product information to end customers, it must also ensure that products are fully traceable at all times. Applying a QR code with a laser is a solution with many advantages. Gea’s technology experts take an end-to-end approach to designing individual solutions. This includes overseeing everything from laser supplier selection and initial film testing to optimal laser positioning in the packaging line.

Lasers – the sustainable solution

Complex codes can encode large amounts of data in a very small area. They can be applied to packaging by laser at high print speeds. Grouped light creates durable marks on the top film that are impervious to outside influences including heat, abrasion and water. Since lasers do not require consumables such as labels and ink, they have impressive durability credentials. Lasers are ideal as marking systems in the food and beverage packaging industry as they work equally well in dusty and humid environments.

Flexible laser placement

Different packaging processes require different approaches. Depending on the size of the production batches, it is possible to mark the feeding of the top film in advance or after it has passed through the sealing station of the thermoformer, but before the finished packaging units are cut out.

For example, a customer in the food industry opted for a Videojet laser marking system to accompany its Gea thermoforming packaging machine. The chosen CO2 The laser solution was integrated with the Gea PowerPak system sealing station to print the top film before it was sealed to the bottom platen. Despite the additional processing step, there is no increase in production time because labeling is taken into account in the integrated production process cycle.

Increased efficiency due to fewer film changes

When packaging similar products, the use of a laser can greatly increase the efficiency of the machine, as the only changes needed are the ingredient lists, accessible in the database. This means that it is not necessary to switch to previously marked movies in each case. Thanks to the reduced number of film changes, set-up times are reduced. The cost of consumables also decreases because they can be ordered in large quantities.

“The seamless interaction between the components is the source of the packaging machine’s efficiency. Since the laser marking system and our thermoformer are designed to fit together perfectly, they meet the high demands on throughput, quality and product safety,” says Volker Sassmannshausen in conclusion.

Gea is one of the world’s leading systems suppliers to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The international industrial technology group specializes in machines and plants as well as advanced process technologies, components and comprehensive services. With over 18,000 employees, the group generated revenue of over €4.6 billion (approximately Rs 39,952 crore) in fiscal year 2020. The focus is on the continuous improvement of the sustainability and efficiency of customers’ production processes. Gea factories, processes and components help to significantly reduce carbon emissions, plastic use and food waste in production worldwide. In this way, Gea makes a decisive contribution to a sustainable future, fully in line with its corporate philosophy “engineering for a better world”.

Gea is listed on the German MDAX and the STOXX Europe 600 index and is also a constituent of the DAX 50 ESG and MSCI Global Sustainability indices.

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