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
Both of these options offer an automated work-off function, whereby the software will stop the operator from making new ink when a work-off option exists. The work-off function retrieves a list of every ink color in a customer’s inventory. The operator selects an item, and the software performs mathematic calculations based on the actual batch record for that specific ink batch when it was produced. The software then instructs the operator to find the container and place it on the scales, and then the system proceeds to dispense the required amount of new color base to convert the work-off to the desired color.
Operators also can export formulas from a spectrophotometer to the dispensing system, which then coverts the information to 100 parts and sends the formulation to the dispenser. The operator takes it from there, repeating the steps listed above.
Some manufacturers offer queuing systems to be used with their dispensing systems. Sun Chemical’s Q Master and Compact Q (Figure 4) are designed for use with IDS dispensing systems, manufactured by Vale-Tech Ltd. and offered by several distributors, including Sun Chemical. The Q Master handles ink containers ranging in sizes from quarts to 1 gal. The system is fitted with up to 10 shelves and features an X-Y motor with a fork that rises up to a shelf, picks up the empty container of ink, and brings it to the dispensing device. The dispenser then reads the barcode attached to the ink container, which includes information such as ink color, quantity, date, and the formulation, and then dispenses the appropriate formulation. After dispensing, the Q Master places the container back on the shelf and retrieves the next container. The Compact Q accommodates up to 12 colors and is built for one container size.
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