Mobile printer with linerless labels adds value to medical diagnostic system in US healthcare
For many years Able Systems Ltd has worked closely with Current Components Inc. as distributor of their printer products into the North American market. Current Components in-depth knowledge of the printer industry and marketplace, coupled with Able Systems product innovation and manufacturing quality, have led to many sales opportunities for Able Systems panel mount and mobile printers.
Having enjoyed some sales success with Able Systems products addressing the needs of companies in the healthcare sector in USA, Current Components made an approach to Welch Allyn – a leading manufacturer of medical diagnostic equipment and healthcare products. Discussions revealed that Welch Allyn was close to completing development work on a new Vital Sign monitor. They intended to offer a printer option with this model, and were already evaluating a printer from one of Able System’s competitors. Believing Able System’s Ap1300 mobile printer model to be a better solution because of its reliability and small form factor, Current Components persuaded Welch Allyn to carry out a technical evaluation.
Subsequent follow up by Current Components indicated that Welch Allyn were satisfied with the results of their evaluation of the Ap1300, and were prepared to consider adopting it as the printer for their new product. Further investigation by Current Components indicated that Welch Allyn were particularly interested in being able to print onto linerless label stock, as this would allow for diagnostic results to be printed at the patient’s bedside and directly stuck into the patient’s notes. Welch Allyn was of the opinion that the ease and additional security of this approach would be a significant product differentiator for them, and would generate additional sales volume.
Recognising the opportunity, Current Components were quick to involve Able System’s engineering team to assess the possibilities of the Ap1300 printer being capable of working with linerless label stock. An initial step was to establish the makeup of the roller used within the Ap1300. This turned out to have high silicone content, which would be necessary to work effectively with the linerless label stock. Some initial testing by Current Components seemed to suggest that the printer did, indeed, work well with the linerless label stock, with no apparent adhesive or other residue being deposited on the printer. Current Components then took this potential solution back to Welch Allyn, who were quick to run an initial evaluation. The results were very positive, and Welch Allyn could see how they would be able to deliver their preferred solution to the market. Further, they indicated that they would be prepared to go ahead with this solution, provided the Ap1300 printer passed a rigorous test programme.
Current Components provided five printers and many boxes of linerless label rolls to Welch Allyn to support the proposed test process. The printers were used continuously, printing a series of test outputs. At regular intervals the printers and rollers were closely examined for any traces of adhesive residue transfer from the label stock, but none was found. This addressed Welch Allyn’s concerns that contaminants could accumulate on the printer over a period of time. During this process Welch Allyn ran 750 rolls of linerless label stock through each printer, before declaring themselves satisfied with the performance of the Ap1300 and the solution that Current Components had proposed. At 8.5m per linerless label roll, this means that Welch Allyn printed over 30Km of label without incident during their test process.
Having satisfied themselves that the solution would match their performance standards, Welch Allyn then started the procurement process with Current Components. Another example of how Able Systems works with a distribution partner to identify and deliver specific solutions that address the needs of individual customers.
The conventional approach to printing labels is to use die cut labels on a continuous carrier. Labels have an index mark to indicate to the printer the start/stop position for printing. The limitation of this approach is that labels are a fixed length, so different label rolls need to be carried if different size labels need to be printed. Further, from an environmental perspective, the carrier sheet is non-recyclable waste that needs to be disposed of.
Linerless label stock, by contrast, is silicone coated so that it sticks to itself yet peels easily (similar to a roll of adhesive tape). Because there is no carrier sheet, all the content of the roll is printable, and this can represent an increase in label output per roll of 50/60%. The big benefit, however, is in flexibility – a 2” label can be followed by a 6” label, followed by a 4” label, and all from the same roll. Linerless label stock can be supplied with either permanent or semi-permanent (re-positionable) adhesive.