Logos and quality seals according to requirements

Direct marking is gaining importance in the timber industry. The market doesn't just expect correct labeling according to relevant safety directives, grading classes, and import regulations. It is also necessary to fulfill customer requirements such as dimensions, barcodes or company logos. The Baur sawmill and the labeling specialist REA JET have implemented a tailored solution for this using laser and inkjet technology.

The timber is sourced from responsibly managed forests within a radius of 100 kilometers and is shipped all over the world in a wide variety of forms. Every tree that comes to the Baur sawmill in the Baden-Württemberg city of Wain is processed almost in its entirety by the 85 employees. 180,000 cubic meters of timber per year or 1,200 per day leave the mill as planed timber, sawn timber, garden or solid structural timber, or as bark mulch, wood chips or sawdust. A portion of the wood shavings is used to fire the on-site heating plant. “Our product range has been growing continuously in recent years”, says Frederik Baur, who runs the business together with Hermann Baur. “To increase our value-adding, we have invested in particular in further processing capabilities.” Sustainability is important to this ISO 50001 certified long-standing company, which was founded in 1906 and is now run by the fifth generation of the Baur family, as is its enduring, trusting, and long-term relationship with its suppliers and customers.

All this played a role when Baur planned its new solid structural timber (SST) plant and commissioned it in 2015. The compact finger-jointing machine from the company SMB cuts around 1,250 pieces of timber each day. Each is marked on the end face with a wide variety of information depending on the purchaser – from company logos and dimensions right through to quality seals, CE marks, and IPPC marks. “Our customers are involved in the timber sales and wood processing industries, with a wide variety of applications and sales markets and their different stamping and marking requirements”, reports Baur. “This includes the US market with its special grading standards, where each individual piece has to have a quality mark applied to it.” There is also a demand for scanner readable barcodes, which poses a challenge for any printing technology due to the individually grown nature of the natural material wood. The objective was to find a highly flexible, reliable and at the same time sustainable solution.

“One facility is rarely like another”
Baur found it at REA JET. The sawmill has been collaborating with the industrial marking solutions specialist in the German region of Southern Hesse for many years now, and was able once again to rely on their experts and diverse range of products for the SST plant. “As a full-range supplier we have the advantage that we can develop custom concepts for each customer”, says Michael Jäger, a sales representative at REA JET who specializes in timber. The portfolio encompasses a wide variety of printing technologies and systems to suit different requirements, surfaces and industries, from large-print inkjet printers to small-print printers for filigree lettering on product packaging. Custom solutions are often required, in particular in wood processing where the production lines in the plants are usually tailored to the local circumstances and individually further developed over the years. “One facility is rarely like another.” 

Furthermore, the requirements on marking in the timber industry have changed significantly in recent years. “In the past, a label would be applied to a roof batten which was then taken off on-site and pasted onto the documentation, but this would sometimes get lost. This procedure is no longer necessary in the digital age”, explains Jäger. “Nowadays every piece of timber has to be marked, whereas previously only two in a bundle had to be. All of this can be achieved using a high-quality direct marking solution: Once applied, it stays where it is.” State-of-the-art markings are also interesting from a marketing perspective: When you see a truckload of timber on the highway with a large company logo emblazoned on them, you’re going to remember the logo.” The durable, reliable markings on each piece of timber also guarantee the necessary traceability.

A 60 Watt REA JET CL CO2 laser was selected for the new SST plant in Wain. It is robust, consumable-free, and operates reliably even under adverse conditions such as temperature fluctuations, humidity, dust contamination and vibration – and leaves a reliable and undetachable marking even on difficult surfaces. 

Marked in a matter of seconds
As the laser creates the marking on the wood, a small cloud of smoke rises which is immediately suctioned off. Otherwise there is a not a lot to see as the well-housed system carries out its work. “The marking laser with the necessary safety standards was new territory for us. REA JET with its comprehensive and personal support was a great help to us”, Frederik Baur remembers and adds: “The results are terrific. The wood is labeled in a matter of seconds, we get fantastic print images, and we particularly appreciate the versatility of the system.” Before commissioning the system, REA JET worked with Baur to develop a series of print layouts. The production manager Safet Stiller and his staff assign them to each job on the production control computer, and the laser system communicates directly with the wood processing machine via an interface.

All systems from REA JET can be integrated into production according to the individual needs and level of sophistication of the company. The possible applications range from standalone solutions right through to a fully automated production line – the REA JET systems are fully Industry 4.0 capable thanks to their state-of-the art interfaces. 

The REA JET TITAN platform, which Baur uses to control the laser system, has also been designed accordingly. It can be integrated into the company network and operated from a PC, tablet or smartphone. Diagnostics and assistance can be requested, if necessary, via an integrated remote maintenance tool. The REA JET TITAN platform can be used to operate the entire range of JET marking technologies. The Baur sawmill has taken full advantage of this feature, because the planing mill is also using another ink-based marking system from REA that works with cartridges:  the REA JET HR inkjet printer. This printer, and also the laser system in the SST plant, are being operated via the TITAN platform, which is benefiting the employees too. They only needed to be trained once for both marking systems, and as they operate the devices they don’t need to keep thinking about which one they are currently standing in front of, and which printing technology they are currently using.

Ink for the planing mill
Due to the size of the required markings, the REA JET HR inkjet printer in the planing mill operates with dual print heads. They combine precisely and with perfect registration accuracy to produce a seamless and homogeneous print image. “Ink is currently the most suitable technology for the planing area”, says Michael Jäger. Triggered by means of a light barrier, the high resolution inkjet printer, now equipped with two sets of dual print heads, simultaneously applies the CE mark to two freshly Waco-planed pieces of timber – in total 8,500 pieces per day. The print heads operate from underneath and deliver the best possible print quality at 16 selectable resolutions up to 600 dpi. The operators call up the previously designed print layouts and contents from the TITAN platform library and assign them to the relevant products and production orders. To avoid surprises, the fill level of the cartridges are continuously displayed. Every new cartridge also comes with a new print unit. This makes the inkjet printer maintenance free. And because the REA JET customer support representatives are constantly out and about, there is never a long wait for new cartridges even at short notice. 


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