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NFI: Industrial Printing Without Limits

(October 2006) posted on Sun Oct 15, 2006

Take a look inside Nameplates for Industry, a screen-printing shop that has served the North American industrial-graphics market for more than 20 years.

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By Lori Leaman

Rudnick remembers the day he approached one of the artists and suggested the company purchase a graphics computer to produce artwork. The reaction? "A computer could never do that!" That artist is still with NFI, and today she admits that using a computer to produce artwork has made her life a lot easier.

You'll still find stretch-and-glue frames in the screenmaking department (Figure 1), but they're used with some up-to-date equipment to produce top-notch screens. Beside the automatic coater, NFI employs a Saati pneumatic screen stretcher and two Douthitt Violux 5-killowatt exposure units with integrated sensors.

Identical presses are in use in the production area: four Sias Vertomatic 19 x 39-in. and two Vertomatic 29 x 39-in. semiautomatic graphics presses (Figure 2). Some of the presses are used for printing solvent-based inks, others for UV inks. The idea behind having identical presses is one that NFI believes sets it apart from many other industrial printers. All operators can run all of the presses, as opposed to operators being proficient only on certain presses. NFI also finds using identical presses ideal for ensuring accurate registration when using multiple presses to produce a multicolor job.

Color matching is an important part of quality control at NFI. The company uses an assortment of devices to handle the task: two X-Rite spectrophotometers, X-Rite reflective and transmissive densitometers, a GretagMacbeth viewing booth, and X-Rite's Ink Master color-matching software. NFI produces a lot of overlays with transparent windows that may cover LED displays, so the staff must be able to measure the amount of light that the window will transmit to ensure that the final product will function correctly.

"[Color matching] is definitely a challenging area, and it always has been," Rudnick says. "It's not only getting it the first time, but it's that repeatability thing. When a customer returns and wants an additional 100 faceplates for their equipment, they expect them to look the same as the faceplates we printed the year before."

NFI's production area also is equipped with two Svecia dual-lamp UV curing units, a Svecia Combi dryer for UV and conventional inks, an Allied two-color flexographic press (10-in. web), a Sohn flexographic (6-in. web) press, and an Astro-Med thermal-transfer printer (5-in. web). A few rewinders/slitters, an Elite hand bench, a Gardner adhesion tester, and a Teknek automated substrate-cleaning machine also are located in the production area.


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