Schreiner MediPharm has gone for Datalase's alternative to standard label-printing techniques to apply lot and bar codes on to pharmaceutical labels, enabling them to produce labels that incorporate variable information into the design of the label. The technique differs from traditional laser-marking labelling methods in that it reverses the process of applying a patch of black ink to the label and ablating it to produce a negative image as is used in standard laser-marking. In contrast, the Packmark process uses a low power CO2 laser to produce a positive black image on a white background without ink ablation. The area to be marked is coated with the Datalase Packmark substrate, and a chemical colour change in the coating occurs as a result of a computer-controlled low energy laser beam. The system is capable of producing high quality, precision text and graphics through appropriate laser settings, allowing for maximum brand protection. The intensity of the mark produced on the label is related to the coatweight of Packmark applied to the substrate; to achieve machine-readable bar codes or bold graphics, the company recommends heavier coatweights than would be used for standard texts to be read by the human eye. According to the company, the whole process is much more straightforward than traditional printing techniques, and Schreiner MediPharm have already reported savings in time and cost as well as increased production efficiency. The Packmark system boasts almost 100 per cent production uptime according to Datalase, with the laser lasting for around 30,000 hours and requiring much less maintenance compared to thermal and ink-jet printers. Adopting the system doesn't require any additional foil printing, but the imaging chemistry has to be integrated by the packaging supplier itself, usually by 'patch' coating when the packaging is produced. The main applications for the Packmark system are date codes, bar codes and tracking and tracing.