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Development of an intelligent learning pad-printing system

Exploitable results

Experimental and theoretical work intended to develop a new a production system for single-cycle, aesthetically pleasing decoration of products using a software-controlled pad-printing with integral quality control, is reported. A production process, comprising a reliable, new, adaptive/intelligent software-controlled pad-printing process with new materials. Materials (inks, printing pad, printing cliché) giving better depth-of-colour coverage in a single cycle on 3D products using the system. A main innovation lies in new solventless and UV-curable inks. The developed hardware, software, and process knowledge form the basis for a fully software-controlled and economically advantageous industrial pad-printing system. Main results: - New one-component pad-printing inks, which can be used in pad-printing processes with a cycle time of 0.5 seconds, and which have properties comparable with, or better than, the inks available on the market. - New insights for developing solvent-free UV-curable inks. These kinds of ink have the potential for improving the durability of the inks to such an extent that double printing is no longer necessary. - High-speed pad-printing equipment with sensors, actuators, and vision-analysis, etc. was demonstrated. - Analysis of the process circumstances and ink components raised new insights for making a pad-printing process more operator-independent. Other important results must be mentioned: - vision equipment for in-process analysis of the print quality by improving hardware, software, and illumination. - algorithms for analyzing the print quality and analyzing the print failures. - algorithms for feedback of the print failures for process optimization. - concepts for building pad-printing equipment from modules. - new concepts for the manufacturing of clichés (laser-engraving, other cliché materials than steel). - analysis of pad deformation during uptake(from cliché) and release(on product) of ink.