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First, Do No Harm

Pine Brook, NJ - The following is an excerpt from the article titled, First, Do No Harm, by John Conroy, for Pharmaceutical / Medical Packaging News magazine. Novemer 2007 (

It’s a prescription for trouble and a scenario that’s all too common in many hospitals. The lack of a centralized database means that nurses struggle to determine whether a patient received a particular medication. Doctors’ handwritten notes and other patient information are hard to track down. Searching for paperwork wastes nurses’ time. And inaccurate billing makes it difficult to even verify medical care. Error rates rise.

Europe has proved particularly welcoming for a few suppliers stepping up efforts to offer a range of coding and marking solutions. Tom Pugh, vice president of sales for Bell-Mark Sales Corp. (Pine Brook, NJ), believes European manufacturers are “more advanced” than their counterparts in the United States and more likely to consider programmable solutions such as Bell-Mark’s in-line programmable thermal-transfer printing process. “To put it very candidly, when we sell our print equipment in Europe, usually it’s all programmable,” says Pugh, whose company focuses on medical devices.

“A lot of the thermal-transfer technology and ink-jet technologies have all originated in Europe,” Pugh points out. Noting that device manufacturers “are required to print in many languages,” Pugh says that the need for variable bar coding using reduced space symbologies such as data matrix and RSS codes means “there’s not a lot of space left for linear bar codes.” Manufacturers are moving away from common linear codes in favor of GS1 DataBar-14 or Data Matrix symbologies. Thermal-transfer printing can “easily satisfy” the requirements of this new trend, he says.

“The variable bar coding requirements on unit-of-use packaging started in the pharmacy,” Pugh says, “and will eventually be required in the medical device market as well.” Currently, medical device manufacturers have been combining two different printing technologies such as rotary flexographic for “boilerplate” information and programmable printing using ink-jet, laser, or thermal transfer.

Pugh predicts programmable printing will “become a larger part of the in-line print process” over the next three to five years. “Why have two devices? Why not print the whole package with the same device?” he asks. “In-line printing in the long run is going to be completely programmable in my view.” Device manufacturers will want to maximize valuable space on the packaging line by using one versatile programmable printer that reduces costly downtime associated with ink and print plate changes, Pugh mantains.

Read the entire story,

About Bell-Mark
Bell-Mark is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of innovative in-line coding and printing machinery. For over 45 years, Bell-Mark has been designing solutions for package printing applications in the meat, medical device, pharmaceutical, prepared foods, bakery, dairy and poultry packaging industries. Bell-Mark offers many in-line printing technologies including thermal transfer, flexographic, reciprocating ink coders, and inkjet, all of which satisfy requirements to print bar codes, lot/exp codes, date codes, graphics and variable data directly onto packaging substrates.


Press Contact:
Glenn C. Breslauer
Director, Marketing / IT
Bell-Mark Inc.

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