One effective way to boost production, improve efficiency, and reduce inventory costs in your shop is to utilize ink-management equipment. This article explores a variety of options available for ink handling, mixing, and dispensing, as well as the benefits these products offer.
By Lori Leaman
Ink-dispensing systems typically fall under two major types: volumetric and gravimetric. With volumetric systems, operators use meters to determine a certain volume of product. The advantages to using a volumetric-based system are the relatively inexpensive cost and the capability to dispense all of the components of a formulation at once, allowing for a quicker response. With gravimetric systems, operators weigh each ingredient as they use it. Gravimetric dispensing is a very definitive process, with a high degree of accuracy, which makes it a more popular choice among screen printers for dispensing inks.
Some dispensing systems are customizable or built to suit, such as those from Novaflow Systems (Figure 3). The ink-storage container, pumps, and hoses are sized to fit the customer’s products. All of the systems are equipped with pneumatically controlled air pumps and air-actuated valves. Novaflow offers several different types of dispense valves, depending on the client’s requirements. This is all decided as part of the project-review process.
Like many dispensing systems, the Novaflow machines are equipped with a software program that also allows users to manage ink inventories. Through Novaflow’s Materials Management Software, users can monitor the performance of the system, create details on batch histories, view information such as job histories and inventory control by supplier, and retrieve reports on inventory variances.
To use the system, operators log on and select one of two ways to produce a batch of ink. Through the production schedule mode, operators can import a production schedule, select a specified ink on the schedule, confirm the weight, and start the routine, after which the software will instruct the operator to place a pail on the scale. The software recognizes the weight change caused by the empty container and begins dispensing. The second option allows operators to make an on-demand formulation based on a request. The operator selects a specific color, selects total weight, enters item code/job number, confirms weight, and the dispensing sequence begins as described in the first option.
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