by Lara Copeland, writer, Plastics Decorating
As a supplier and manufacturer of inkjet printing equipment, pad printing equipment, laser plate-makers, inks and all corresponding supplies, Inkcups, based in Danvers, Massachusetts, recently introduced a new printer.
Inkcups founder and CEO Ben Adner said, “When Inkcups was brainstorming its next printing system, we wanted to leverage the print quality of the successful Helix® machine, but with an increased production volume.” The result was a high-speed digital cylinder printer aptly named the Revolution.
The Revolution prints 360° seamless graphics on a wide range of cylindrical objects and open-ended tapered vessels. Common applications include stadium cups, pint glasses, stainless and plastic tumblers, cosmetic jars, glass and plastic bottles, beer cans, oil filters and many more. The Revolution is fast enough to produce significant volume, flexible enough for quick changeover, offers outstanding print quality and is priced competitively. It also offers production efficiency – one of the top advantages that manufacturers seek. The printer’s automatic loading/unloading and pre-treatment capabilities save operator time, drive higher volume and give users the flexibility to print multiple vessel types on one machine.
The Revolution is Inkcups’ latest innovation and most advanced system to date. Adner said, “Its most significant capability is printing high-quality, full-color graphics at approximately 600 parts per hour.”
This quality-to-speed ratio is driven using Inkcups’ patented helical technology. This differs from traditional printing methods, as it interlaces the inkjet droplets rather than laying each down in a line. Helical technology enables this machine to rapidly and repeatedly produce smooth, seamless and long images.
The Revolution also easily integrates into a production workflow. Parts are automatically loaded onto 12 vacuum mandrels and adjusted using a servo-driven angle adjust feature. This component is best for conical shapes where the machine learns the precise angle of the part and stores it for future use. The Revolution also features an integrated deionizer, pre-treatment (corona or plasma) and an exit conveyor.
Among the challenges that the Revolution helps solve are the complexities of printing processes, such as pretreatment and loading and unloading a machine. This machine’s integrated pretreatment system uniformly and consistently pretreats each part as it rotates around the machine. If the Revolution does not detect a part, it will not pretreat that station nor will it print on that station.
Another challenge the Revolution addresses is loading and unloading products. While the machine’s conveyor will need to be loaded either by a person or a robotic system, the Revolution’s indexing conveyor slides each part onto the vacuum mandrel. After rotating through the machine, the part is unloaded onto an exit conveyor and either dropped directly into a box or hand-picked, if fragile. Overall, these upgrades and new features make the Revolution much faster.
The Revolution was thoroughly tested in a real production facility before launch and delivered consistent, high-quality imaging. During this time, Inkcups showcased the machine at the recent PRINTING United in Dallas, where the company received a great amount of interest due to the demand for helical printing at a larger production volume. It is currently available in North America and will be rolled out globally this year.
The Revolution is 107 x 47 x 74″ (2724 x 1200 x 1883 mm). It can print images up to 8.66″ (220 mm) tall on a part length of 3″ to 12″ (76 to 305 mm), with a diameter of 2.5″ to 4.37″ (63.5 to 111 mm). The system’s printhead technology can cover the full length of a part up to 8.66″ (220 mm) without additional printhead requirements, resulting in better image quality without stitching.