Your ultimate guide to coding and labelling acronyms

coding and labelling acronyms

Ever found yourself confused with coding and labelling acronyms? Here, we decode the acronyms every manufacturer needs to know.



LPA = Label Printer Applicator

Label Printer Applicators (LPAs) print information onto pressure-sensitive labels, then automatically apply those labels onto cartons, pallets and products. You might also know them as “print and apply” solutions, because that’s literally what they do. They can print information such as variable large and small human-readable text, logos, graphics, and barcodes in the correct format (usually ITF-14 or GS1-128), and apply the label to one side, adjacent sides or opposite sides of the carton.

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LA = Label Applicator

If you have your labels ready to go, a Label Applicator (LA) is a cost-effective alternative to the manual “slap-and-ship”. Unlike LPAs, they don’t print the labels, rather, LAs are automated labelling systems that apply pre-printed pressure-sensitive labels onto cartons, trays and primary products. For barcoding especially, they provide the professional look of precise label placement.

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CIJ = Continuous Inkjet

Small Character Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) is a non-contact printing method. Electrically charged droplets of ink are expelled from a print-head nozzle at up to 120,000 droplets per second onto a substrate. Because the ink droplets are just half the diameter of a human hair, CIJ printing technology delivers precise and reliable results, at speed. CIJ coders are also famously easy to use, reliable and have a low cost of ownership, thanks to the robust, sealed print-head.

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DOD = Drop on Demand

Large Character Drop on Demand (DOD) inkjet printers are great for more demanding industrial applications. They can mark low to moderate resolution, small to large characters onto a variety of substrates, including secondary packaging, timber, metal, concrete, plastics, foam and more. Each print-head contains several individual valves arranged in a single column. The valves are able to open and close independently to form ink drops “on demand”, which drop precisely onto the substrate as it moves adjacent to the print-head, DOD is a highly reliable and durable coding technology, simple to operate and boasts lower capital and operational costs than many inkjet technologies.

Recommended for:

  • Printing larger information, such as a product name and batch information, directly onto the carton.
  • Demanding industrial applications and hardware product marking, e.g. timber, metal, steel pipes, roofing etc.
  • 2D codes on a variety of packaging substrates

TTO = Thermal Transfer Overprinter

Thermal Transfer Overprinters (TTO) are a highly cost-effective printing solution. TTOs use a high-resolution thermal print-head that melts a wax or resin-based ink from a thin thermal transfer ribbon (“foil”) coating onto the product’s surface. The thermal transfer ribbon’s smooth and waxy surface creates less friction when coding onto packaging, resulting in a crisp, durable print.  As such, a thermal transfer barcode is highly resistant to any chemicals, humidity, UV, abrasion and climatic changes that product packaging may encounter along the supply chain.

Recommended for:

  • High-speed production for clear printing results.
  • Generic flexible packaging film and self-adhesive labels.
  • Printing date codes and automated barcodes onto snack foods, confectionary and fresh produce.
  • Products that need to endure friction, changes in temperature or dampness, and last more than 6 months (long-life manufactured goods).

TIJ = Thermal Inkjet

Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) coders use a cartridge containing an ink reservoir and a series of resistive elements. Each element is activated by an electrical current, which then heats the ink to create an ink droplet. The droplet is ejected out of the faceplate nozzle and onto the substrate. TIJ technology is extremely fast and will print exceptional quality; the time between each firing is only 100 millionths of a second and the technology has a throw distance of 1-6mm (depending on the print-head used).

Recommended for:

  • Printing legible product information directly onto the carton (Gelato Messina does exactly this to save on labelling costs).
  • Porous and non-porous packaging, from cartons for food & beverage to timber marking and grading.
  • High line speeds

LCM = Large Character Marking

Some inkjet technologies, such as the Matthews Mperia V-Series 8000+, have exceptional print flexibility when it comes to large-size information. Print-heads can create character heights from 5mm to 128mm. To achieve large character marking, you can even stack print-heads on top of each other. This is ideal for large graphics, such as logos.


If you want to talk to the experts about your coding and labelling solution, or decode some more coding and labelling acronyms, contact the Matthews Australasia team.

And if you want to decode the best practice labelling and coding for your company, then download this free whitepaper. It has 7 valuable lessons in labelling & coding from real-life examples of Australian food & beverage manufacturers. Download Now


Looking for highly informative case studies, whitepapers and infographics for manufacturing? Or videos showing solutions in action and lots of detailed of brochures? Find all that and more in Matthews’ large resource library. It also has presentations we’ve done to industry bodies and articles from our thought leaders. Plus, its all free to download!

Image credit: iStock / Yonca Alparslan

Matt Nichol
Matt is a laser marking expert and has in-depth knowledge of product ID technologies. He is a regular at international trade shows like Pack Expo and is constantly looking at emerging trends and technologies.
Matt Nichol

by Matt Nichol

Matt is a laser marking expert and has in-depth knowledge of product ID technologies. He is a regular at international trade shows like Pack Expo and is constantly looking at emerging trends and technologies.

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