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Willett technology helps 'eggvertising.' (Willett Co.; selling advertising space on eggs)

'Eggvertising', a new marketing technique involving the selling of advertising space on eggs, which is going ahead in Britain after discussion by EC Ministers, has been made possible with Willett technology.

The whole concept of egg coding and 'eggvertising' is before the EC after Willett pioneered the development of food grade inks for printing characters and designs on foods, including eggshells.

The new Willett non-contact, computer controlled technology can be used for 'Best Before' freshness dates as well as printing advertisers' names or logos on each egg.

This will be done during grading and packing using a specially created and dedicated package developed by Willett and known as Eggsignia. This is based on Eggvert's requirements for integrated ink jet technology and food grade inks.

More than 46 Willett Eggsignia coding packages are installed at the key sites of the UK's four leading egg packers.

Eggsignia is based on the Willett small character ink jet printer, devised and developed after extensive research into customer needs for a flexible coding system.

The non-contact, computer-controlled printers will also be used to mark 'Best Before' dates on to the egg shells.

David Larah of Eggvert UK says: "We chose to launch 'Eggvertising' in Britain after deciding on this coding technique and recognising that England is a world centre for ink jet technology.

"We teamed up with Willett, who have done all the research and development work, as they are at the forefront this technology globally and especially with food grade inks.

"We have created the market and Willett is now satisfying the demand for this innovative, state-of-the-art equipment".

Willett ink had been chosen because of its quick drying time, clear definition, good adherence and low penetration.

Willett continuous ink jet printers were selected because their speed means that the very fast egg packing lines would not be slowed, which was an important factor for the egg packers.

Egg packers are also being provided with fully-integrated Eggsignia computer systems to record detail of each date message and logo printed on every egg before packing and dispatch to retailers.

Willett Managing Director, Alan Barrell, says: "We pioneered food grade inks for coding foods three years ago and have worked with Eggvert to develop a coding package to make this novel marketing concept possible.

"All the evidence suggested that date stamping provides a major advantage to the consumer".


A new flexible packaging overprinter, which gives greater speed and flexibility than ever before, has been launched by Willett.

The company has developed the Willett 2760 for integration with form, fill and sealing equipment so that codes can be placed on to the film quickly before filling starts.

Easy operation and versatility means that the programmable overprinter offers major advantages over hot foil printers and label applicators currently used in similar applications.

Increasing legislation requires far more of the variable information, including lot numbers and production codes, to be printed on to the flexible packaging as used in the snack food, dairy or confectionery sectors - and Willett 2760 achieves this while reducing downtime and ribbon waste.

Text, barcodes and graphics, such as promotional or company logos, can be designed on a computer screen and stored in a data base.

This gives operators greater freedom over creating, storing and changing messages - especially important for high-volume products requiring variable information including best before dates.

As with most recent Willett innovations, the Willett 2760, for four-inch wide coding, can be easily integrated as part of an automated system, able to save manpower by communicating with other production-line equipment and controlled from a remote station.

Advanced cassette loading enables a speedy ribbon change. This is a significant improvement, reducing downtime to a minimum, especially after the laborious and often messy heating and cooling associated with hot foil stampers.

Willett provides thermal transfer ribbons offering high-resolution printing in a range of grades, colours, widths and lengths, suited to each application, including those requiring smudge, scratch and heat or solvent resistance.


A NEW Willett flexible packaging overprinter is being put to the test by a leading confectionery manufacturer.

Two of the Willett 2760 programmable over-printers, designed by Willett to improve print quality, operational flexibility and versatility have gone into continuous operation for the first time at Craven's of York, part of the Portfolio Food Group.

The company manufacturers a wide range of sugar confectionery, including Barker and Dobson Everton Mints, for the home and export markets.

The computer-controlled Willett over-printer has been developed after an intensive customer-led research and development programme for printing on to flexible packaging products, including confectionery, biscuits, snack foods and cakes.

The programmable overprinters aim to help manufacturers meet legal requirements for more date and production detail coding on flexible packaging goods by providing faster print speeds with improved clarity and computer back-up for creating and storing variable text, logos, designs or barcodes.

The Willett printers are integrated on form, fill and seal machinery on two high-volume lines printing film with best before, use by and production details as bags are formed.

Craven's of York's Packaging Development Manager, Brian Stow, says: "One reason for introducing the Willett 2760 was to improve the visual appearance and clarity of variable information required on short-run bags destined for international markets.

"This information was previously applied off-line by hand-gunning labels. As this can now be done by the Willett 2760 on-line, we can use our manpower more efficiently".

The Willett overprinter is also being used to code date information and production details on confectionery for UK distribution, the major part of its operation.

Details to be coded are downloaded from a computer with Willett-designed software. As well as improving print quality, Brian Stow says the overprinters offer greater flexibility and time-saving, while maintaining production speeds.

He adds: "At the moment we have to create special plates and cylinders to print promotion details, weights, barcodes etc. The system may well offer opportunities to print this information on standard film".


One of Russia's largest babyfood producers has installed Willett ink jet printers to place "best before" dates on the metal lids of glass bottles.

The printers are in operation at Azov Foods, in Southern Russia's main agricultural region where fruit juices are produced.

Azov makes a range of baby food products mainly for its home market where requirements for best before dates and other consumer-protection codes are becoming more common.

Azov Chief Engineer, Mr Morgunov, said: "The reliability and economy of operation of the Willett ink jet coders makes them ideal for coding our products.

"Printing the shift numbers on the product helps improve quality and internal control procedures."

Michail Epishin of Willett Russia adds: "The requirements for variable information coding on a wide range of products is increasing for both home and export."

"There is no doubt that in the next few years this will become a significant growth market."

If so, Willett Russia, based in St. Petersburg and with a sales and service office in Moscow and a distributor in the Ukraine, is well placed to supply a range of coding products and back-up service.


The first-ever worldwide range of food grade inks has been launched by Willett.

A portfolio of more than 50 food grade ink formulations has been developed by chemists in five years' research at the company's Inks Division, Runcorn.

The formulations have been developed after research through Willett's international market research network into the requirements of food manufacturers worldwide and their controlling regulations.

The inks use previously approved, well-known food ingredients in a range of colours and drying times suitable for coding directly on to many food products from fruit to pharmaceuticals and the primary packaging with which they may come into contact.

Because of the more complex maze of international regulations, Willett is also offering customers a confidential partnership in which they can ensure that chosen formulations suit their industry and national regulations before buying.

The inks are for use with the Willett range of small and large character non-contact ink jet printers including the company's new single and twin-head 3900 series, capable of coding more than 2,000 characters a second a line.

The formulations meet US Federal Drug Administration requirements for coding directly on to eggs, fruit, confectionery and pharmaceuticals under CFR, regulation 21, Part 73.1 (B) (1) and eggs, confectionery, vitamin supplements and chewing gums under CFR regulation 21, CFR 73.1. (B) (1) (11).

Willett Inks General Manager, Tim Milligan, said: "The food grade inks issue is a jungle because of the complexity of differing demands and regulations which mean that there can be no single 'catch-all' food grade ink.

"We have developed our specialist portfolio so that we can match our inks to the varying needs of food manufacturers worldwide, covering many different sectors of the food industry which have their own regulations.

"Because of the complexity of the regulations customers have the opportunity to choose formulations to match the requirements of their product industry sector and national regulations."


Special warnings or messages can now be printed on to soft drink bottle caps in a new technique being pioneered by Willett.

Warnings such as those on the bottles pictured, Please Open Away From Face, can be printed with a Willett 3900 small character non-contact ink jet printer without slowing down even the fastest production lines.

Managing Director, Alan Barrell, said: "As society becomes more health and safety conscious we are all discovering dangers which we have not taken into account before.

"There may be cases where children and adults could suffer injury to their eyes because of lack of information on the potential hazards of opening pressurised bottles.

"This way of coding a warning message may just help avoid a simple mistake which could lead to tragedy."

The messages, which can also be in the form of graphics, are creating interest among soft drink producers as well as brewers and carbonated mineral water suppliers.

By using a twin Willett printhead customers can code the warnings on the cap at the same time as marking sell by or batch code details with the other so that the extra information can be coded without slowing down production.

The printer is capable of coding company logos, graphics, text or barcodes up to 10mm high in a range of print definitions. A single print head can print more than 2,000 characters-a-second with single-line coding.

Alan Barrell added: "The warnings are coded in our ethyl acetate ink. This gives good definition and adhesion and is an environmental alternative to those including the pungent MEK solvent. This is especially important in food and drinks manufacturing or packing centres."


The first range of environmentally-safer industrial inks, based upon a synthetic solvent, have created worldwide interest after being launched almost three years ago.

The ethyl acetate inks, developed by chemists at Willett Inks Division, Runcorn, offer an environmental alternative to those based on methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and can be used in 90 per cent of their applications.

MEK is an effective carrying agent for dyes and binders and inks based upon it are widely used. But MEK is pungent smelling and has been the subject of growing concern since an extension to the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 came into effect four years ago detailing the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

Scandinavia has led international resistance to MEK, banning it in many industries several years ago.

Under COSHH regulations MEK, which is generally accepted as alien to the human body, has an occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 200 parts per million in the atmosphere throughout an eight-hour working day.

But ethyl acetate, which occurs naturally in fruit and is a yeast by-product in wine and beer fermentation, can be broken down and absorbed by the body easily in small quantities and has an OEL of 400 ppm making it twice as acceptable as MEK.

Willett Inks Division General Manager, Tim Milligan, said: "MEK based inks have served industry well and continue to do so but growing pressure for an environmental alternative has led to a considerable take-up of our new ethyl acetate product."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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