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"Printing on Sterilization Packaging"

What things do I need for high quality printing?

Last Updated On September 4, 2019

The primary purpose of print on sterilizable medical packaging is to convey information. There should be no missing text, smears, smudges, or offset that render the information incorrect or illegible. One of the first considerations to achieve this should be the compatibility of the graphics with the intended printing method. It is critical that the press can deliver the desired font size and other graphics characteristics reliably. Different printing methods such as flexography, rotogravure, and offset have different capabilities in delivering difficult graphics characteristics.

When evaluating a new package material for a medical device, the printability needs to be considered. While paper and other cellulose-based materials are considered excellent printing surfaces, many films and non-woven polymeric materials can be more challenging. The surface tension or dyne level (measured in dynes/cm) is a common indicator to predict the adherence of ink. Materials that do not receive ink well can be surface modified for better ink adhesion.

It is important to consider the compatibility of the printed material with the distribution environment and sterilization process. The temperature, handling, and/or chemical exposure of the printed package can impact ink adhesion and print legibility. If the ink system and substrate have been successfully used in similar applications, then it is likely the new application will work well. If there is not substantiated experience with the conditions likely to be seen by the package, then considerable testing should be done to insure adequate performance.