Recently completed Zero ink project shows promising developments in laser markings for plastic products

The Zero ink project, funded by Business Finland through the SPIRIT programme, has recently submitted its final report, yielding promising results. CEO Niko Karsikas from Cajo Technologies is very pleased with the outcome of the collaboration within SPIRIT.

The goal of the recently completed project was to research and develop a laser marking solution that works on a wide range of polymers. The project team tested different configurations and ran tests to determine the parameters for a successful laser marking. The project also investigated traceability requirements in certain industrial sectors, such as food packaging, cables and wires.

According to Niko Karsikas, one of the major benefits of the project and the power of the SPIRIT ecosystem was the opening of discussions with other players in the industry, leading to participation in interesting supply projects with large companies. The project also resulted in the replacement of label markings with laser markings on individual food packages with a significant food supplier.

During the project, further development was carried out with the discovery of new laser wavelength ranges that work better on different polymers and plastic products. This resulted in new applications and industry openings, for example in the food and beverage industry.

Sanna Martin from Borealis, who leads SPIRIT’s R&D theme Enablers for green transformation, explains that the project has provided a deeper understanding of parameters affecting laser marking on plastic products, such as colourants, surface gloss and toughness. Linked to this project, a B.Sc. thesis was conducted for Borealis and Cajo.  In this thesis, Aino Saikkonen from Aalto University studied laser marking technology and quality of selected laser marked plastic test specimens.

In all, the Zero ink project has achieved significant results in the field of laser markings, offering potential for further development and expansion into new application areas such as medical devices. The project has also demonstrated the economic and environmental benefits of using laser marking instead of glued labels, contributing to a reduction in carbon footprint and cost savings for customers.

Niko Karsikas sums up: ”Cajo`s additive-free solutions enable significant added value for material producers and other processors when replacing for example inkjet and label technologies.” He continues: “The technology enables a quick and cost-efficient generation of extremely precise and durable machine-readable traceability markings, lasting throughout the whole product life cycle, even in challenging circumstances. The chemical-free marking technology enables decrease of the carbon footprint by 90% in comparison with industrial inkjet printers, for instance.” Sanna Martin agrees: “Avoiding paper-based stickers improves the recyclability of plastic products remarkably, but the circular economy for plastic products also calls for efficient traceability. Future traceability and data management of various plastic products is foreseen to be based on smart codes, where laser markings can play a vital role.”


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