March 2016

Why Does My Package Need Printer Marks?

Printer Marks Terms & DefinitionsWhile printer marks are a necessary and integral part of the printing industry, the average consumer never sees them. On occasion, the observant consumer may notice a crosshair or see tone circles and be none the wiser to the important role these marks play.

Most printer marks are printed in areas of the material that never make it past die cutting or slitting (slicing the flexible polymer material into individual rolls). The marks may be, but are not limited to: registration microdots, cold seal tick marks, color control tone circles, and automatic registration marks. Furthermore, some printers are investing in real-time color-matching systems that use an additional set of marks outside the live print area.

Often, wide-web film printers use cold seal tick marks to ensure proper placement of cold seal or pressure sensitive adhesive, which is used as packaging sealant when heat cannot be applied. Any slight variation in the cold seal adhesive application can make the material unusable and increase production waste. The cold seal tick mark is often very discreetly placed and usually invisible to the consumer. This hidden gem is beyond critical to the printer!

Many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have chosen to have printers use color control tone circles on packaging. These circles are used to measure the accuracy of spot colors and to process color density and color dot gain. They are also used to analyze the packaging for possible quality issues. Again, they are placed as inconspicuously as possible, but on smaller packages they may be noticeable. Even if they must remain visible, they have become such a critical tool for printers, separators and CPG companies that the possibility of exposure is outweighed by their usefulness.

Now that you know what to look for, and why they are there, share your knowledge! The next time you buy a package, take a moment to look at it thoroughly…can you find the printer marks?

Phototype is a 4th-generation, family-owned company that provides fully integrated graphic solutions to the consumer packaged goods (CPG), medical/pharma, retail, printing and converting industries. To learn more, contact us.