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
Dorrier says two main considerations in purchasing an automated inkdispensing system are batch-to-batch shade repeatability and lowering cost. “You lower labor costs by having the machine do the dispensing for you, and you lower inventory cost by having the machine prompt you to use returned ink inventory. That tends to be a big area of payback—a large inventory that you can reduce,” he explains. “A lot of our customers use the dispensing system as a sales tool. They can tell their clients that they use an automated, computercontrolled dispensing system that guarantees the repeatability of the color, and if they print a job today, and print it again one month from now, the colors will be consistent.”
Wilflex’s DM4 DispenseMaster (Figure 7) is designed for mid-sized to large shops that do a considerable amount of color matches for plastisol inks or want to closely manage their ink inventories. The system operates on Wilflex IMS color-matching software and allows users to call up a custom color in the database or select a Pantone formula and enter in the quantity of ink to be mixed. The bucket or container sits on a scale while dispensing occurs, and the weights of each component are monitored and controlled in real time by the software. The ink containers located on the side of the machine are equipped with pumps that move the ink from the individual ink containers through the pump lines and down through the nozzles located in the center of the system. There are three dispense modes, including gross fill mode (for high volumes of ink), fast fill mode, and fine fill mode (for smaller volumes of ink).
Wilflex also offers the dispensing system in an MX version for use with finished inks, as well as a base and pigment system. With the base-and-pigment system, base ink is pumped in from a 55-gal drum. The pigments are usually pumped from 5-gal containers. The dispensing system also is offered in an Equalizer version for base and colorants.
Dean Searles, Wilflex’s marketing manager, says that one aspect of automated dispensing systems that customers find appealing is that the use of such systems keeps the ink-mixing area very clean. Additionally, customers can make only what they actually need in ink batches, avoiding the costly problem of extra, unused inventory in their inkrooms.
Mixing it up
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