Tag Archive: safety

  1. Ink Adhesion Part 2: Bi Component, Pre-Treatment and Post Cure

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    Have you ever looked on the back of an object and seen the recycle symbol? It tells you what material the object is made of. When it comes to plastics, Polypropylene and Polyethylene are considered the two of the most difficult materials to get ink to adhere to due to their relatively low surface energy. Polypropylene is used to make a wide variety of items and low and high density Polyethylene is commonly used in food packaging. When it comes to these difficult substrates it becomes necessary to pre-treat to affect a change in surface energy to make the surface amenable to bonding with – or cross-linking – with the ink.  This causes the substrate surface to become more receptive.

    The most commonly used methods of pre-treatment are:

    • Plasma and Corona: Electricity applied to the surface.
    • Flamer: Liquid propane (LP) or natural gas. With Flamer there may be variation due to cleanliness of the burn and how the flame will pre-treat any given substrate.
    • Chemical Pre-Treatment: Usually manually applied with a liquid soaked rag.

    Unfortunately on any given substrate you cannot assume that you will affect an equivalent change in the surface energy from one pre-treatment to another. Finding the correct ink pre-treatment may consist of 3 different segments: cleaning, activation and surface bonding.

    Plasma surface treatment is a process that raises the surface energy of various materials in order to improve the bonding characteristics when ink is applied. Plasma is used widely in the medical industry. This is because you don’t have the bi-product of the other 2 pre-treatments such as carbon from the flaming process or residual VOC’s left behind from the from the flashing process of a chemical pre-treatment. Corona treatment is commonly used on materials such as polymers, papers, films, glass and metals.

    Plasma is a good option for components that require a longer treatment hold. Some of the key advantages include: surface chemistry and 3 dimensional treatments. Corona is another form of plasma that can be used with in-line processes. When working with corona the systems are easy to maintain and user friendly.

    Flame pre-treatment can also be integrated into inline processes, and require careful and sometimes precise setup in order to be safe and effective. Proper air to gas ratios, flame intensity and dwell time all play into successful pre-treating. Flame plasma systems combine compressed air and a flammable gas which is combusted to create a flame. One advantage is that the material surface only has to be exposed to the flame for a brief period of time to become polarized through oxidation. One setback is the heat level required for this treatment may cause damage to the parts.

    Chemical priming is yet another way to pre-treat difficult to adhere to substrates and is generally considered a last resort due to the generally manual nature of application. Essentially primers are used to chemically modify the surface by removing contaminants, adding reactive sites for bonding and increasing surface energy. One disadvantage is that these primers often contain chlorinated solvents that are considered volatile organic contents.

    Many substrates will require pre-treatment to satisfy customer’s individual requirements for print longevity. But with the correct treatment and testing, our technical service technicians will test the inks and provide samples for the individual customer’s review.

    For information about Engineered Printing Solutions’  custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial digital ink jet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents, email sales@epsvt.com or call
    1-800-272-7764.

  2. Technical Service with Remote Access

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    Whenever you have a technical problem wouldn’t it be nice to virtually relay the issue to the guy on the other end; without having to explain the details? There are so many times when I wish technical service could see what is on my screen rather than having to figure it out on my own. Here at Engineered Printing Solutions, our technical service representatives are able to virtually operate your machine and resolve the problems or issues you may be experiencing. This is all done by having “remote access” to the machine.

    Remote access has been extremely successful with our customers. The remote access program is available with our custom machines. With this technology our technical support team can access the clients’ machine through a simple internet browser. This is a major advantage because with a complex custom machine it is challenging to describe what the customer is seeing on the screen. As soon as the customer and our technical staff are connected they are able to speak either by phone or Skype. The operator is able to see exactly what our technical support team is doing on the machine and our tech support staff can see exactly what the operator is doing on the machine. It is not just a matter of being shown how to resolve the problem; technical support can virtually operate the machine to solve the problem. For safety reasons we do want to make sure that someone is physically at the machine to ensure the safety of everyone on the plant floor and to monitor that the machine functions as expected during the operations that are being performed.

    For information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial digital ink jet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents, email sales@www.epsvt.com or call
    1-800-272-7764.

  3. Printing on Cylindrical Items the Myths and Truths: Image Distortion and Pad Choices

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    In the world of Pad Printing there are continual possibilities. However with all of the potential, there happen to be certain particulars that we must learn and develop from. The opening rule of thumb when printing on cylindrical items is: it is best suited for an image that covers only ¼ the circumference of the cylinder. Often times the cylinder is hollow, i.e. water bottles, if these cylinders are collapsible under the pressure of the pad it is possible that internal support, e.g.: pressurizing the cylinder or internal mechanical support, may be necessary to minimize collapsing the cylinder and therefore contributing to distorting the image.

    The second rule of thumb is going to be: the bigger the machine the better.  The pad needs to be compressed to a point where the outer portions of the image are on the downside of the curve of the cylinder.  This, coupled with a pad that has sufficient meat and print area to transfer the image, are more suited to a machine capable of higher compression force.

    Beware of Distortion.

      • The image, when transferred, will tend to stretch as you compress the pad to reach the outer portions.  This is to say, you can have a 5.25″ image etched in the plate but you will end up with a 6″ image when measured on the circumference of the cylinder.
      • Images tend to either smile or frown.  This is more evident when there is “straight” copy at the top or bottom of an image being transferred.

    Now when printing on cylindrical items there is a myth that a flatter pad will provide an easier vehicle, due to decreased need for compression, to transfer an image. However a flatter pad, as with most pad printing applications, will nearly always introduce other issues, i.e.: pin holing, to the process and cause distortion. If the image is screened, you are going to find decreased opacity of the image at the outer portions due to stretching. This stretching caused the screen pattern to be more apparent and opens up the “holes” in the screen… decreasing opacity.

    For information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial digital ink jet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents, email sales@www.epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764

  4. The Future of Pad Printing

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    For the past three years Engineered Printing Solutions has been utilizing robotics to increase production, lower operator costs and improve the overall decorating process of various parts. The use of robotics has evolved from (a) pick and place systems to (b) SCARA robots loading tooling to (c) 6 axis robots with vision orienting and loading tooling. SCARA robots were then utilized as the actual printing arm with the capability of changing pad styles during the print process. A robot being used as a printing arm has been proven to be the most effective way to print on various three dimensional products that require multiple prints in different locations.  In prior designs an elaborate fixture would be designed to rotate the part to different print positions so the 4 axis SCARA robot could print down on the specific location.  The development of the smaller 6 axis articulating robots with increased power has led to advancement in our current robotic pad printer designs replacing the SCARA robot with a 6 axis Robot.  The part fixture now remains stationary because the 6 axis robot allows you to print at any angle. This eliminates the need for an elaborate multi axis servo driven fixture. The pad printing cycle is also shortened because the robot is no longer waiting for part rotations.

    Features of the six axis robot printer:

    • End of arm tool to hold print pad
    • Automatic tape cleaner
    • 2 sets of independent clichés to allow set up of next part to run without stopping the current print process
    • Clichés can hold multiple artworks
    • Touch screen HMI controller display on strong arm
    • Camera vision system to detect orientation of part
    • Up to six color printing
    • Automatic pad changer with use of up to six different pads
    • In feed & out feed conveyers

    Currently the Engineered Printing Solutions team includes many highly motivated individuals with full engineering, software development and tech support. Our #1 goal is Customer Satisfaction. Our company is constantly pushing the envelope, discovering more and more ways to seamlessly incorporate pad and ink jet printing into customers’ manufacturing environments.

    For information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial digital ink jet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents, e-mail sales@www.epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764

  5. Pad Printing in Multiples

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    Compared to the world of manual pad printing, the world of automation is virtually unlimited, within reason. Here at Engineered Printing Solutions we have taken a standard KP05 bench mounted printer and stripped it of the software and hardware. We then completely customized it to be able to produce 8,000 pieces per hour, all the while requiring minimal operator involvement.  How do you decide if automation is right for you? Well you need to ask yourself 3 questions: How many pieces per hour do you need to print? How many colors on the image? Finally what is the size of the image? With this machine, it all starts with the Bowl Feeder which aligns the parts all the same direction and feeds them down a track to the printer, printing the parts and finishing with the items going out under an infrared heater, ensuring that the images are dry enough to continue down the production line to other operations or to packaging. However with every innovation there are obstacles which we must work through.

    Some of the technical problems that can arise are:

    • Being able to efficiently feed the parts to keep up with the printer.
    • Printing multiple images in one pad stroke can create some undesirable results. This may require custom pads.
    • Being able to efficiently process parts through the system without damaging even the most delicate part.
    • Ensuring that the printed image is dry enough to withstand downstream operations as soon as it leaves the system.

    In this case we are printing 8 pieces at a time so our engineers need to make sure that the images are being placed correctly on each of the 8 parts every time.

    For information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial digital ink jet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents, email sales@www.epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764

  6. Inkjets: How Do I Choose the Right Inkjet Printer?

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    That’s the million dollar question! (Don’t worry. It won’t cost that much.) We’ve already outlined how you might benefit from the addition of an inkjet printer, and how to justify the cost of another piece of equipment, in a previous post. Now you have to match your workload and job requirements to the right machine configuration.

    What’s the best inkjet machine solution?

    That depends. Here are a few criteria used to get that answer:

    Image quality – higher resolution means higher priced heads (or more passes).

    • Throughput – there are “multi-pass” versus “single-pass” options (more on that later).
    • Part size – limitations on height / width = machine size.
    • Image size = part size = machine size.
    • Substrate used – Regardless of the print technology, some substrates (PP & PE come to mind) still require pre-treatment for best image adhesion.
    • Number of colors required – dark substrates will need White base-coat layer, plus CMYK


    What’s the best inkjet technology for me?

    Do you need high volume / throughput with minimal part handling? Consider an automated conveyor, single-pass inkjet printer. You’ll typically get:

    XD070 Single Pass Inkjet Printer

    • Up to 14″ per second of print speed
    • A print width that will be a minimum of 2.75″ and can be wider on a custom configuration.
    • Print resolutions up to 720 dpi in a single pass.

    This is a great configuration for in-line applications, especially when pre-treatment is required. In many applications, you might require tooling of some sort to make sure parts are spaced and aligned consistently. Some units will incorporate a series of sensors to detect the part, and software that tells the heads when the part is in position for printing. We’ll help you with those.

    Do you need higher resolution (up to 1200 dpi) but less speed? Perhaps a flatbed printer is your best option. These units offer:

    • An advantage for smaller / identical parts that can be placed in machined trays or nests.
    • A vacuum platen so you can print flat “stock.”
    • A series of print heads (arrays) on a rack that moves across the bed, printing and curing as it goes, giving you the capability of printing in a single direction, or printing in both directions, depending on your needs. It’s not as fast, but print resolution may be a higher priority.

    With either of the above technologies, you will have the capability of adjusting print speeds, ink density / droplet size, head heights, and color hues. Speaking of colors, if you are printing process color on a dark substrate, you will need to print a white base layer first, but both technologies can accommodate that. In addition, it’s possible to print a clear-coat to protect the image or provide a more glossy appearance, but you’ll probably have to sacrifice one of the white arrays.

    Do you only print in one color? Obviously, it’s possible to print monochrome or spot colors with inkjet, but keep in mind that it’s not practical to change or flush colors in the same array. With most high end industrial inkjets, ink is fed from bulk tanks, not cartridges (helps to keep the consumable costs down).

    Therefore, if you are thinking of printing with one color only, monochrome machines are available, but you need to be very sure that you will only require that one color. Custom machines have been built with white and black arrays, so the customer can print either (and even mix both to get a gray hue).

    Does your customer ask to make changes on press or repeat exact specs? Inkjet will usually provide the capability to manipulate the images at the machine, with the assistance of on-board graphic art software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Some machines are capable of storing jobs (or job “queues”) so operators can simply select from a drop-down box. Custom machines are network-capable, so jobs can be entered remotely, and many in-line / automated units can be accessed remotely for both job entry and diagnostic capabilities.

    Now you know a lot more about inkjets than the average pad printer. Don’t forget: at PPMoVT we build your inkjet the same way we build your pad printer — from the ground up to your specifications. That makes it clean, efficient and engineered for accuracy and cost effectiveness.

    Call our toll-free number 800-272-7764 or go on-line at Ink Adhesion Part 3: Ink Mixing, Contamination, Blooming and Mold Release Agents and click on Live Chat. We’ll start you down a two-lane inkjet/pad printer highway to greater success.

  7. Safe and Efficient: Best Print Environment Ever!

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    To get the most out of your printing operation, you need to account for many factors, including lighting, adequate compressed air supply, controlled temperature and humidity, quality consumables, etc. Everything of value in your operation must be put in place, maintained, serviced and supplied. One factor often overlooked is the operator, and more pertinent to this discussion, operator ergonomics.

    An operator who exerts as little energy as possible per print cycle and who has everything needed to complete the assignment within the production cell will deliver consistent and predictable productivity throughout the shift. Additionally, job satisfaction and, most importantly, safety will impact your company’s throughput and profit. Never dispute the value of a happy employee.

    Ergonomics
    When designing your operator’s production cell, keep in mind the following to improve working conditions:

    • The distance / height of reach for an item
    • Comfortable seating
    • Proper floor mats, also known as anti-fatigue mats.
    • Temperature and humidity control in the work environment including heat exhaust from nearby heaters or dryers.
    • Rotations within shifts. This prevents repetitive stress disorders and boredom.  It also ensures crew flexibility and increases the employee’s perception of value to the operation, putting the emphasis on the importance of production.
    • The right tool for the right job. Avoid cheap multi-tools with every hex-key ever made. Our pad printing equipment should not require the use of more than 4 hex-keys.

    Safety
    As mentioned above, safety will most definitely impact your bottom line. OSHA provides an interactive program on their website called $afety Pays  to help determine the financial impact of injuries. This number can be used when calculating ROI of safety equipment.

    • Always hang cables and hoses from the ceiling; never lay them on the ground.
    • Wear gloves, goggles, and aprons.
    • Do not disable safety features on machines. They are installed for a reason.
    • Keep pallets out of the way. If possible, keep pallets out of the production area completely. Moving an empty pallet around creates extra work and aching backs.
    • Fixtures should be designed carefully to ensure fingers stay out of way of the pad.
    • Take the time to properly train every production member on how to lift with their knees. On-the-job training means it is a requirement of the job.

    Preparation
    Try always to be proactive instead of reactive. For example, instead of requesting or preparing ink during the changeover time, someone should have the ink ready for the operator before the job begins. Any way you can keep the printer printing will improve your up-time.

    • Keep all thinners and other supplies available at the production cell.
    • Keep a supply of cleaning materials at the production cell.
    • Use outside help for non-printing tasks, like handling boxes, proofing jobs, work orders, removing pallets, etc.
    • Printing can be a bottleneck. Exploit it by keeping the printer printing.

    Job Satisfaction
    A happy employee is a productive employee. Think about it. If your employees are frustrated about working conditions, they are distracted from their job.

    • The less your operator deals with job frustrations and physical fatigue, the more printing cycles will take place.
    • Removing frustrations and dangers from your operator allows more commitment to quality, service, and exceeding production goals, resulting in …
    • The best print environment ever!

    Need Help?
    PPMOVT’s Sales Engineers are really smart! Why not use them? They’ll help you figure out the holes in your operation and recommend ways to plug up productivity drains.  Call us at 1-800-272-7764, or use Live Chat on our Home page https://www.padprintmachinery.com

    Then we can add your business to the list of best print environments ever!