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A single printer for limitless product and packaging types is on the horizon

Packaging is an integral part of a product’s appeal, an extension of a company’s brand that also often provides consumers with important information. Innovative inkjet printing technology makes switching among unlimited output specifications fast, cost effective and ‘green’.

Industrial Technologies

Endowing ordinary paper, cardboard, plastic and wood with multicolour designs and texts is accomplished with packaging printing machines, about as varied as the outputs they accommodate. However, although most companies produce a variety of products requiring different packaging, most printing machines lack the necessary flexibility to change seamlessly. Thanks to the Italian SME TOPJET S.r.l. this is no longer the case. With 30 years of experience in designing and manufacturing printing systems for packaging and labelling, the company has now created the pioneering, modular SupplePrint inkjet printing system. It promises to do for packaging and labelling what 3D printers did for prototyping and small lot production. The EU-funded SUPPLEPRINT project has enabled the team to optimise the technology and lay the groundwork to unleash it on the market.

Versatile, eco-friendly and fast

Leveraging state of the art software tools for design, TOPJET S.r.l. developed SupplePrint as a system within everyone’s reach and able to meet the majority of user needs and use cases. Its multiple printing head configurations support an unlimited height and width of the graphic printing area, as well as printing on porous and non porous materials. SupplePrint enables high resolution (600 dpi), complex graphics printed on plain packaging after filling with the product, and uses eco friendly, cutting edge mineral oil free inks and VOC free UV LED inks. It can achieve a printing speed of 150 m/min; for comparison, 150 m is about 6 wagons of a train, so imagine complex printed graphics scrolling by 6 wagons in a minute.

Benefits yield savings in time and money

According to the technical director Alessandro Calzolari: “Thanks to its intuitive graphical user interface, SupplePrint can switch configurations quickly and easily from one package design, size and material to another in real time, significantly reducing the time and cost of small batch production processes. It accommodates unlimited font size, one and two dimensional barcode printing and various commercial print heads and inks.” SUPPLEPRINT coordinator Valeria Cervetti adds: “SupplePrint can be used in any industry sector and for a variety of applications, from printing on packaging to printing on the product itself. The estimated cost benefit is EUR 70 000 per year (approximately 60 % relative to industry standard) thanks to savings in fixed costs, such as reduced disposal of inks and packaging, set up time and printing speed.” SupplePrint withstands harsh industrial working environments; it is dust and water tight up to 1 m, according to international standards (IP67), and accommodates a temperature range of 5 to 45 °C.

Ready for Industry 4.0: connecting the machine, the user and TOPJET

SupplePrint is also equipped with Industry 4.0 connectivity and AR technology, supporting remote collaboration between the customer and TOPJET S.r.l. technicians for process optimisation, troubleshooting and maintenance. The AR glasses can help customers visualise information, including wiring diagrams and data sheets; additionally, they support the low cost European standard mobile communication protocol (VoIP/GSM) for audio and visual connectivity. Calzolari and Cervetti conclude: “Thanks to SupplePrint’s modularity, it will be possible to quickly create customised printing that satisfies highly varied customer needs without the need for experiment and evaluation.” SupplePrint will soon be revolutionising the way companies express their uniqueness.

Keywords

SUPPLEPRINT, printing, packaging, TOPJET, inks, inkjet, labelling, Industry 4.0, MOF ink, UV LED ink

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