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Dade Behring Uses Flex-Lyte 430 Label Material For Medical Labeling

Dade reagent cartridge labelsDade Behring Chemistry Systems, Newark, DE, is a leading developer of consumable reagents for clinical chemistry systems. The company manufactures over 65 different test methods for its Dimension® clinical chemistry system, used by hospital laboratory technicians to perform a wide variety of in vitro diagnostic tests.

These tablet and liquid reagents are dispensed into multi-well FlexTM reagent cartridges that are compatible with the Dimension system. The cartridges are then automatically labeled with a lot number, expiration date and Code 39 bar code.

To label its 8.5 million cartridges each year, Dade Behring has relied on three stand-alone thermal-transfer label printers, two automatic label applicators and vinyl pressure-sensitive labels.

"The labeling system had some type of problem every week, and a major problem was guaranteed every six months," reports Dade Behring’s Jim Feeley, assistant engineer, elaborating that problems included poor print quality, inconsistent label placement and significant downtime.

Unhappy with the service that was being provided by its multiple vendors, Dade Behring pursued alternatives to its existing application. That’s when Feeley called Weber Marking Systems, Arlington Heights, IL.

"We knew Weber serviced label applicators, so we invited them in to get our equipment running again, as well as to review our application," says Feeley.

Weber, a leading supplier of industrial bar code labeling systems and a specialist in pressure-sensitive label converting and printing, determined that Dade Behring’s vinyl labels were the source of the firm’s labeling problems.

Vinyl labels are extremely flexible and do not offer the sturdiness required for accurate automatic dispensing. Additionally, this expensive material does not provide a uniform surface to print on, and it requires higher transfer temperatures, which shortens the life of printheads and causes thermal-transfer ribbon material to stick to the label’s facesheet.

Weber replaced the vinyl labels with its high-quality Flex-Lyte 430 film label material, which readily accepts thermal-transfer printing and is designed for smooth dispensability with automatic label applicators.

The durable Flex-Lyte 430 also meets Dade Behring’s most unique application requirement: labels must be removable for up to two weeks, then must stick up to five years in moist, refrigerated environments.

"We’ve not experienced any downtime since Weber replaced the labels," says Feeley. "We originally had three printers on hand just to ensure that one would be working all the time. Now we only need one."

Additionally, Feeley reports that the company is saving $50,000 per year in label costs by switching to the new labels.

Dade Behring also is saving money by eliminating the need to replace products due to poor bar code print quality. Laboratory technicians depend on the bar code to identify what test method is in the cartridge. If the bar code doesn’t scan properly, Dade Behring must replace the entire carton of cartridges free of charge.

Dade Behring is considering converting its cartridge labeling to print-apply, especially after witnessing the recent success of the Weber-supplied printer-applicators for its carton labeling production line (see additional story on Dade's carton labeling application).

Dade Behring also is working with Weber to develop a custom print-apply system for labeling the reagents test kits for the firm’s latest product introduction, an analyzer for hospital emergency rooms.

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