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Bring Order to Your Inkroom with Ink-Management Software

(March 2005) posted on Tue Mar 29, 2005

Learn about the various programs that ink manufacturers offer for tracking, mixing, and organizing inks and find out what improvements have occurred since our last review of ink-management software in the May 2001 issue of Screen Printing magazine.


By Lori Leaman

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The system includes the IMS Ink Dispenser and is driven by EvolvePro software on an included PC. The dispenser can accommodate as many as 18 ink components that are stored in 5.5-gal reservoirs and reportedly completes all of the steps in color matching a precise formula in 3-4 min. Ink reservoirs are easily accessible and simple to fill and can be set to automatically agitate the ink at predetermined intervals.

Once ink is ready for dispensing, users select a container and place it on the scale (jigs are available to accommodate containers from 1 qt-5 gal) at the bottom of the system. The user enters the formula, the appropriate container size, and a specific amount of ink to be dispensed, and then clicks on "Mix Ink" (Figure 8). The operator can leave the system unattended until dispensing is complete.

Formulas can be imported from existing electronic files or entered man-ually. When doing a color match, data from a spectrophotometer can be read directly into the system, which then suggests and saves a formula into the system. ColorSense IMS offers several functions designed to decrease color-matching time, decrease press returns, and maintain precise formulas. The Hand-Add feature notifies the operator when ink or additives (i.e., metallics) required for a formula are not located in one of the reservoirs and indicates exactly how much of each should be manually added to the container.

ColorSense IMS also can produce labels that list such details as formulation components, batch date, bar code, storage location, and customer name. Customizable fields allow users to display additional information on the labels. A work-off function for leftover ink is also a standard feature.

ColorSense IMS is geared for line-color applications; however, Sericol is launching a companion system for use with four-color process inks from the company's new 30-gal drum-package system. For more information, contact Sericol Inc., 1101 W. Cambridge Dr., Kansas City, KS 66103, 913-342-4060, Fax: 913-342-4761, Web: www.sericol.com.

Unimix The Unimix program from Union Ink, is a PC-based software package that incorporates formulation data for all Pantone-approved colors produced with Union's Mixopake, Automatch, and Unimatch ink series for textiles. The software's ink-calculation functions are based on user-supplied values for mesh count, total image area, and run size (Figure 9).

Measurement units are user selectable. Based on this information, the program computes a theoretical ink requirement for the desired color and the amount of each component that must be mixed to produce the needed amount of the new color.

The program's ink-costing function allows users to enter costs for all components or ingredients used in a formula. The program uses the data to automatically determine the exact cost of the mixture by component and in total.

Unimix also offers an ink-recycling function that lets a user work away mixed-ink leftovers. Unimix not only works with Pantone-approved colors, but also allows for the creation and storage of custom colors. These custom formulations can be stored under their own user-assigned names along with special notations or remarks.

Additionally, the software contains material safety data sheets (MSDS) for Union's color matching inks and other mixing components. It also features technical data sheets for a wide range of inks and ink-handling products offered by Union. The technical data sheets are accessible as PDF files. Unimix software is available on CD and is compatible with any computer system using Windows 3.1 or later versions. For more information, contact Union Ink Co. Inc., 453 Broad Ave., Ridgefield, NJ 07657 800-526-0455, Fax: 201-945-4111, Web: www.unionink.com.


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