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Modern Machines for Decorating 3-D Products

(July 2006) posted on Thu Jul 06, 2006

Read on to find out more about the latest technologies available for this screen-printing specialty.


By Harald Gavin

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When a screen-printing machine needs to be set up for a repeat job, a microprocessor-controlled press with touchscreen and job-storage memory can eliminate the need to again go through a setup process. Selecting a cross-section of an item for optimized print movements and inputting the cross-section data are only required once for a print job. The machine settings can be stored, and the stored settings are then available for recall and automatic machine pre-setting when a repeat job is scheduled.

Reduced downtime

Downtime caused by machine failure can be reduced when a screen-printing machine has a remote diagnostic link that enables the manufacturer to check equipment status and assist troubleshooting on site. Mechanically driven machines may have a control system with programmable controller and a microprocessor, which can be interrogated via a remote link so that manufacturer can view the error log and assist in troubleshooting when an error has occurred. Servo-based machines make the remote-diagnostics service offered by manufacturers more effective because, in contrast to mechanical drives, servo drives can monitor their own performance. The status of the machine and each drive can be checked.

A servo-driven system also can monitor machine performance. A deterioration in performance caused by a mechanical problem—a gradual seizing of a bearing, slippage in gearing or a coupling, or a loose belt—can be identified by the associated servo drive. The servo drive will signal an error message to the operator, and the operator or maintenance staff can address the problem before it causes extensive and unscheduled downtime. If a servo drive fails, the servo drive system signals an error message that assists the maintenance staff in troubleshooting. Servo drives, in combination with appropriate sensors, also can be self-adjusting, which reduces time spent on setup and maintenance.

Increasing print quality

Today's screen-printing machines produce outstanding print quality with multicolor images. This capability is the result of improvements in machine design, UV inks, and mesh material, as well as enhancements in prepress, such as raster image processing (RIP) and color separation specifically for screen printing.

UV inks and finer meshes enable printing with higher resolution. RIPs that take account of the capabilities of the screen-printing process produce dot patterns that allow the printing of color gradients with virtually invisible tonal transitions.


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