Laser and Film System Offers Marking Solution for Glass Containers

By David Vaczek

ATS Automation Tooling System's laser and film system provides an alternative to laser ablation for high-contrast, nonerasable glass marking.

For marking high-resolution fixed and variable text and bar codes on glass vials and syringes, ATS Automation Tooling Systems (Cambridge, ON) has unveiled a laser-based nonablating marking system.

The Validate system supports track-and-trace solutions and counterfeiting protection through the nonerasable characteristic of the mark and through microscripting. ATS has teamed with tesa AG (Hamburg), incorporating its proprietary print tape consumables, for printing text, logos, lines, and 1-D and 2-D bar codes. In the nonablating system, the laser strikes the film that is positioned between the laser and the glass, transferring pigment on the film onto the glass surface.

“The ability to produce high-contrast, nonerasable marking is one distinct advantage of the Validate system. The resolution on glass is considerably better than with ink jet, and the marking withstands abrasion, chemical cleaning, and elevated temperatures. Using programmable laser-based marking, companies can tailor their printing in-line without the need to manage inventory for containers, which vary only in the graphics and text applied,” says Rob Faulhammer, director of business development, ATS.

“Companies have tried to use laser ablation as an alternative to ink jet, but it is slower than ink jet, it is potentially damaging to the glass, it gives you a lower-contrast mark, and it potentially damages biologically active product in the vial or syringe. The Validate technology overcomes these negatives,” Faulhammer adds.

Integrated into fill-and-finish equipment, Validate supports lines speeds of up to 600 containers per minute.

The technology was conceived by tesa AG to thwart counterfeiting with serialized marks, potentially including microscript. It was first used in automobile glass applications where vehicle identification numbers were printed onto glass as part of a theft prevention solution.

In providing the ability to print overt and covert security features, Validate prints text as small as 200 microns in height. And 2-D bar codes can be as small as 2-mm square.

ATS adapts the system to users’ needs, tailoring factors such as line speed, information to be marked, material handling, and line-management software.


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