Schering-Plough has signed up to use software developed by UK-based specialist ixPressia to improve the quality of its blister printing operations.
The US drug major has integrated the firm’s Print Engine Mono Label (PEML) software into a production line inkjet printer, enabling it to print information directly onto the surfaces of foil blister packs, significantly expediting the packaging process.
The PEML software controls the printer and allows fully variable data printing, such that text and images including use-by dates, administration instructions, warnings, bar codes and batch numbers can be added to the surface of packaging in a rapid and continuous process.
ixPressa managing director Jim Taylor explained that: “The variable [labelling] information is sent to the printheads in real time, with no delay, so the printer can run at the full speed of the printheads.
“Our software has been designed to be production-ready for industrial applications such as this, and we are delighted that it has been integrated into the system successfully.”
The blister printing machine at Schering’s site, which features xaar 760 inkjet printheads, was designed by G-MAT as a bespoke machine and is capable of processing up to 240 blisters a minute.
Rod Mitchell, G-MAT’s technical director, said that: “The ixPressia Print Engine Mono Label software presented the ideal solution for us. The software allows late stage customisation, and marking individual blisters with unique information if required.
Mitchell added that the system is “ideal for applications needing the security of individual coding for tracking and tracing of products,” which will doubtless attract the interest of drugmakers seeking to combat counterfeiters.
Declan Kelly, who is managing the project for Schering-Plough, said that the software and printer combination “represents a step forward for blister printing. The print quality and flexibility are excellent; also the blister handling provides significant advantages for a production environment."