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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 the decoration has two or more images, a printer can optimize print movements for each image by selecting different cross-sections—one for each area—and can still print the images in one pass through the machine. An example of this is the decoration of wine bottles, where the job may require printing onto the cylindrical bodies and the conical shoulders.

Printing on conical items can be made easier on a machine with a rotary indexing table. Here, each screen is driven by its servomotor, and each fixture has its own two servomotors—one to rotate the fixture and one to tilt the fixture. This makes it possible to print at different conical angles, at different printing stations, during one machine cycle. Systems with this capability can save significant time when printing two images at different heights on a conical item where the conical angle varies with height, such as on a coffee pot (Figure 5). While an item is moved to the next printing station, the control system tilts the fixture holding the item to a different angle. On such presses, angular positioning is very precise and repeatable. The motion controller will adjust screen movement and fixture rotation in each printing station to the diameter of the selected cross section.

Higher efficiency reduces costs

Presses for containers and other 3-D parts achieve higher efficiency by reducing the time needed for machine setup and routine maintenance. Many of the improvements made to these machines have resulted from close cooperation between machine manufacturers and screen printers. By observing actual production environments, the machine manufacturers can identify opportunities for streamlining the printing process. As an example, consider the downtime that occurs when a press is stopped so that glass fragments can be removed after a bottle has broken in the machine. By designing equipment that prevents glass fragments from falling into the machine, manufacturers make it possible to quickly remove the glass and continue production.

The use of high-quality components also increases the efficiency of modern container presses. Reliable components reduce the need for maintenance and the likelihood of stoppages caused by component failure. Machines that are designed to quickly return to production speed after a stoppage further increase productivity.

Setup efficiency


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