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Development of an intelligent learning pad-printing system


Since its invention some 25 years ago, Pad (or tampon )
printing has proved so successful in the general printing
and decoration of three dimensional products that little
further development of the process has been undertaken.
However, with the advent of modern, computer based
control systems, this economically vitally important
printing process can be substantially improved, resulting
in significant cost savings and quality enhancement. Such
improvements as have been made over the years have only
resulted in a small reduction in the degree of operator
activity. Consequently, current state of the art pad
printing machinery remains heavily labour intensive, and
unsuitable for modern production lines. The most
significant improvement has been the transition from the
'open' to the 'closed' printing process; this still
remains heavily operator dependent, and process knowledge
is badly lacking.

The current pad printing process causes problems when it
is required to print on certain surfaces, or with fine
line designs, or on surfaces with small radii. To improve
the appearance of products in a costeffective way, there
is a strong need for a fast, flexible, software
controlled pad printing process at the END of the
production line (mass production). This technique must
give very close to 100% yield, because the products have
already been assembled. The new technology will have many
This project aims to develop a production system for
single cycle, aesthetically pleasing decoration of
products using a software controlled pad printing system
with integral quality control. The products can be made
of plastic or any other substrate material. The new
system will have many benefits:

* high yield (<0.1% reject rate) > cost reduction

* appealing customised products >
increased market share
* fast reaction to market trends > increased market
* reduction of stock > cost
* easy to print any language on a product >
social benefit
* no wet solvent printing needs >
environmental benefit

Results of the project will be:
1. A production PROCESS, comprising a reliable, new,
adaptive/intelligent software controlled PAD PRINTING
2. MATERIALS (inks and printing pad and clichee
materials) giving better depth of colour coverage in a
single cycle on small three dimensional products using
this system. The main innovation lies in new solventless
and UV curable inks that will eliminate the exposure of
operators to hazardous fumes.

In the last phase of the project, a demonstration system
will be installed in a pilot line to test its reliability
and flexibility in industrial surroundings, and to
demonstrate the capabilities of the new technology. The
total direct and indirect economical benefits of the
project amount to at least 350MECU/year when fully
implemented in European industry. The Consortium
comprises the complete chain: Philips as end user one
of the main manufacturers of domestic electronica
products in the world; Tampoprint a leading World
manufacturer of the printing machines and their
associated printing pads and clichees; Marabu an
internationally renowned manufacturer of the inks; LEGO
Group an international manufacturer of children's
plastic toys as a major end user of the materials and
equipment developed in the project; the University of
Birmingham as a developer of fuzzy logic control, and
RIKS as the developer of the algorithms for the control

Meccanismo di finanziamento

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Nederlandse Philips Bedrijven BV
5600 MD Eindhoven
Paesi Bassi

Partecipanti (5)

Lego Engineering A/S

7190 Billund
Marabuwerke GmbH & Co.
4,Asperger Straße 4
71732 Tamm
Paesi Bassi
6,Papenstraat 8
6200 AL Maastricht
Tampoprint GmbH
1,Lingwiesenstraße 1
70825 Korntal-münchingen
United Kingdom
B15 2TT Birmingham