How to Increase Throughput In A Pad Print System: Seconds Matter

In pad printing, seconds matter.

Pad printers are an excellent solution to product-marking and -decoration when runs are long, the artwork is fairly simple, and part topography precludes an inkjet solution. But as with any form of “contact” printing, there are theoretical limits to throughput speed. The pad can only move so fast, or the ink needs a minimum time period to cure before downstream activities can take place.

Doubling the number of pads, plates, fixtures, and parts doubles throughput, but duplication also adds considerably to the cost of the machine. Prospective customers also frequently bring up the topic of a rotary table to move parts past the pads and ink cups, but this only speeds up throughput if there are preliminary steps such as pretreatment for adhesion required for the printing process, as regardless of how many stations there are on a rotary table, the operator still only has two hands with which to load the machine.  Another problem with trying to increase throughput through the use of a rotary table is the actual movement of the table itself; the operator can only load parts onto the table when it is stationary.

Fig. 1: A simple rake with pneumatic control for off-loading parts can increase throughput by eliminating one human touch.

Sometimes simple additions to standard operations can add significant throughput gains with very little added cost.  When trying to increase throughput, a good place to start is in minimizing the number of “touches” a machine operator must make on a part. Either loading or off-loading can be automated. One solution for off-loading parts is a simple rake, driven by pressurized air, to pull parts off of the fixture. (See figure 1.) This frees the operator to focus solely on loading parts into the machine.

Fig. 2: EPS designed this loading mechanism to enable the operator to load parts even while the table is rotating.

EPS has designed a loading mechanism that “pre-loads” parts into position, and then vacuum sucks the parts onto the fixture once the table has come into position and is at a standstill.  This automated load can occur much faster than if a human operator had to do it.  (see figure 2.)

These are just a few examples of innovative, one-off solutions we have found for our customers.  Sometimes, seconds can be gained just by having one of our Sales Engineers visit your facility and discuss your operation.  Our experience in manufacturing processes in a wide variety of industry verticals—Automotive, Medical Device, Health & Safety—has taught us many operational strategies that may offer ways to shave precious seconds off your production process. Customers trust us to find a solution to their part-marking problem because they know that we understand that seconds matter; if you can go from a four-second print cycle to a three-second print cycle, over the course of a shift, a day, or a year, those seconds add up to real cost-savings for our customers.

Automated Parts-Handling Can Shave Seconds Off of a Production Process

  • Some work environments can benefit by trimming seconds out of their processes.
  • Sometimes simple additions to standard operations can add significant throughput gains with very little added cost.
  • Sometimes seconds can be gained just by having a Sales Engineer come in to discuss your operation. Our experience in manufacturing facilities across industry verticals exposes us to many operational strategies that may offer ways to save you time and money.

Want to find out more about custom automation solutions for your part-marking job?  Drop us a line!

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