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Printing Barcode & Exp. Dates on Meal Kit Foods

Printing Barcode & Exp. Dates on Meal Kit Foods

Print time-sensitive info on labels immediately using a hot stamp or thermal transfer printer.

Some products can’t wait for pre-printed labels to arrive from an outside vendor. Medicine manufacturers, for example, need to print custom labels for individual containers and small batches because of the personalized nature and strict regulation of their products

With meal kit services here to stay, more meal kit producers are adding food packaging printers to their production process. Hot stamp machines and thermal printers offer meal kits the possibility of providing bar codes, expiration dates, personalized messaging, and even tamper-evident labeling. 

To ensure you’re getting the right printer for your setup, let’s go over the differences between hot stamp and thermal printers to help you make the right choice.

Hot Stamp vs. Thermal Transfer

Pack Leader USA carries both hot stamp and thermal transfer printers. While both types will serve you well when creating your in-house custom labels, it’s wise to analyze which type might be more well suited for your particular operation. 

Both can print to flexible surfaces such as bags or pouches and, as with all Pack Leader USA machines, are made from rugged 304 stainless steel and aluminum for long-lasting durability and performance.

Hot Stamp Printer

Hot Stamp Printers: Think of hot stamp printers like analog printing presses. A ribbon is laid across a surface, then a hot metal die presses down and melts the ink to create the desired image. 

Pros:

  • Print is dark and opaque
  • Initial cost is lower than that of a thermal transfer printer
  • Ideal for expiration dates, not barcodes

Cons: 

  • The image isn’t as high resolution as a thermal transfer printer
  • Costs can be higher in the long run as custom plates need to be made for new graphics
  • Setup can be challenging

Thermal Transfer Printer

Thermal Transfer Printers: Instead of relying on carved plates with different fonts and images, thermal transfer printers use computer-controlled heated printing elements to transfer an image with an ink ribbon. Think of it as a digital label printer for food packaging. 

Pros: 

  • Prints high-resolution digital images with sharper edges and better overall quality than hot stamp printers 
  • Operating costs over time tend to be lower than that of hot stamp printers as they tend to use less ribbon
  • Ideal for expiration dates and barcodes

Cons: 

  • The initial cost of purchase is higher
  • Not quite as durable as hot stamp printers

Which Printer is Right For Your Meal Kit Service?

The main question you need to ask is whether or not you need the flexibility and print quality of a thermal transfer printer. If you plan on making very few changes to your prints and want ultimate durability, perhaps a hot stamp printer is for you. 

Which Printer is Right for Your Meal Kit?

Either way, a Pack Leader USA label printer can transform your packaging line and boost your productivity. All of Pack Leader USA’s add-on printers are designed to slot easily into an existing packaging line, are made from durable, easy-to-clean 304 stainless steel and aluminum, and have parts readily available. In fact, it might be as easy as attaching a printer to your existing Pack Leader USA labeling machine.

Allen Hot Stamp Printer

  • Integratable with PL Series and PRO Series labeling systems
  • High printing speeds, up to 800 prints per minute
  • Durable and efficient for reliable, quality prints
  • Custom brackets and wiring for easy use and operation
  • Quick-change hot foil ribbon magazines
  • Minimum downtime with maximum production output
  • Robust, reliable technology for outstanding service life
  • Available accessories include consumables, printing plates, type holders, and type (including bespoke characters and plates)

ELF Hot Stamp Printer

  • Integratable with ELF Series and PL Series labeling systems
  • High printing speeds, up to 800 prints per minute
  • Control, durability, and efficiency for reliable, quality prints
  • Custom brackets and wiring for easy use and operation
  • Quick-change hot foil ribbon magazines
  • Minimum downtime with maximum production output
  • Robust, reliable technology for outstanding service life
  • Durable even under extreme conditions

Markem-Imaje SmartDate x40 Thermal Transfer Printer

  • Integratable with PL Series and PRO Series labeling systems
  • Maximum continuous print speed is 23.6 inches per second (600 mm/sec)
  • High-quality 300dpi resolution
  • Standard 1100m ribbon reduces changeovers and improves cost per print
  • Patented ribbon saving features, up to 20% less ribbon waste
  • Best in industry 18-month standard warranty
  • Excellent availability ratio of up to 99.6% without assistance
  • IP protection available
  • Up to 50% reduction in power consumption

Videojet IP DataFlex Industrial Thermal Transfer Printer

  • Integratable with PL Series labeling systems
  • Maximum continuous print speed is 39.4 in/sec (1000mm/dec)
  • High-quality 300dpi resolution
  • Flexible, convenient printing that works seamlessly with your labeling machines
  • Handles a variety of print designs in either 32mm or 53mm widths
  • Quick and simple removal and replacement steps 
  • Self-regulating tensioner ensures that the ribbon stays properly set
  • Easy-to-use touch-screen for easy operation
  • Preset code gap and bi-directional drive for double the print capacity per ribbon
  • Streamlined software checks accuracy on dates and codes to practically eliminate errors
  • Saves companies money in both labor and reduced waste

Comparing Hot Stamp and Thermal Printers

To make the choice even easier, we’ve put together a handy comparison chart showing the features of Pack Leader USA’s printers. You can see at a glance which features are crucial to your operation and which ones aren’t as essential. 

No matter which printer you choose, know that Pack Leader USA has your back. Our experience in creating labeling solutions for the meal kit industry means that you can trust us for your labeling solutions. We’re not just providing labeling and printing equipment — we’re your partner for success.

COMPARE HOT STAMP & THERMAL PRINTERS

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