Inspection systems: Making a perfect pitch

The major factor that is causing increasing awareness in inspections systems is the bottlenecks and intolerance to inefficient post-press operations. In addition, awareness towards reducing wastages has seen a leap. This sentiment was resonated at PrintPack which emphasised packaging finishing.

14 Mar 2013 | By Rushikesh Aravkar

Apart from die-cutters and folder-gluers, inspection systems for carton packaging were the highlights of the show. Companies like Masterwork, Autoprint, Galaxy Propac, and SLKCG demonstrated offline automatic inspection systems for packaging (especially folding cartons).

Investing in visual inspection systems in order to tackle the print faults especially on cartons was never top priority for a packaging converter. Even today, converters rely on manual sorting for quality check; however, when we spoke to the manufacturers, their feedback was, “Automation is a must when it comes to quality. Manual sorting is not viable for firms which produce more than 15 lakh cartons per day.” 
China-based Masterwork, which has recently joined hands with Manugraph, launched the Qualifilter MK 420, automatic sheet inspection machine at the show. With its patented light source and provision for meticulous adjustments, the MK 420 is able to inspect holographic marks, laser printing and foil stamping.

Masterwork’s Qualifilter MK 420 throughputs at 240m/min
Generally such systems tend to fail in case of rough substrates because shadows are generated when a direct light is flashed on the surface. However, with perfect lighting modes, the MK 420 is able to eliminate such problems and throughput at the rate of 240m/min. Though the working speed depends on criticalities in the inspection, according to Manugraph, the average speed is 150m/min.
A similar machine was launched at Autoprint’s stall. The Checkmate 65, which is developed by Autoprint in collaboration with Bengaluru-based Lucid Imaging, is an impressive kit. The complete indigenous machine is equipped with two line scan cameras: one detects regular printing defects such as smudges, scratches, colour variation etc and the other is specialised for foil registration checking. It is able to detect the defects in hologram positioning but lacks the capabilities to detect the errors in holograms.

The Checkmate 65 at Autoprint’s stall
When I spoke to a Mumabi-based printer at the show, he says that though such offline inspection systems are new in India, there are converters in China with a battery of such systems. Not only can these machines improve the quality and consistency of jobs produced but they have the capability to increase the efficiency of the production workflow.
Delhi-based Galaxy Propac, which has recently ventured into the packaging segment, showcased carton inspection machine from Shanghai Yoco. This was the same machine, which was displayed at Drupa, but with improved features. The company has upgraded the software capabilities which form the core of the machine besides the line scan cameras.
Another launch was observed at S L Kulkarni Cyril Graphics’ (SLKCG) stall. The Cdfkt inspection system by Sergusa Solutions, a sister concern of SLKCG, is a solution for folding cartons, cigarette cartons, currency inspection etc. It can inspect any surface, be it paper, plastic or metal. The system is equipped with a high definition line scan camera which has technology from Chromasens. The feature of the system is that it can detect a defect of 100 microns at a speed of 150m/min. I was informed that Sergusa Solutions has supplied an inspection system to The Times of India, which is in beta testing.

The Cdfkt inspection system by Sergusa at SLKCG’s stall
There were other exhibitors such as Quadtech, Q I Press Control, and Erhardt + Leimer highlighting colour inspection systems for newspaper and packaging segments.
Q I Press Control India (QIPCI) unveiled the IDS closed loop colour control system targeted at the newspaper segment. The system was launched at Drupa. This is the upgraded version with water control, defect detection and dot gain reporting.  The system does not refer to the colour bar printed on newspaper. Rather, it is an online system, which measures variation by comparing the LAB values of print with one bit TIFF file. Besides IDS, QIPCI also launched MRC 3D, a colour registration camera. This camera captures the depth of the image on the paper. According to QIPCI, the MRC 3D will be commercially available in three-four months. As on date QIPC has installed more than 8,000 systems worldwide.

The Cdfkt inspection system by Sergusa at SLKCG’s stall
QuadTech showcased its enhanced portfolio of press control technology for newspaper, commercial and packaging markets in India where it has sold more than 600 systems.
The colour quality solution provides in-line colour and ink control on packaging presses by obtaining on-the-fly spectral data from QuadTech and ink formulation data from X-Rite via Huber Group dispensing technology. Also for packaging printers, QuadTech’s colour measurement system with Spectral Cam HD measures the colour information in-line on paper, film, or foil at full press speeds and provides a high-resolution view of dot structure.

QuadTech showcased its portfolio of press control technology
And finally, there was Erhardt+Leimer with its flagship product Nyscan, print image inspection system and solutions on moving webs for paper, film and foil converting industry. The company featured systems for edge guiding and line guiding with colour line sensor; web tension monitoring and controlling; reel handling; corona treatment; automatic splicing. 
The future of inspection systems has scope for growth.


By Rushikesh Aravkar, senior correspondent at PrintWeek India, and a graduate of SIES Graduate School of Technology (Print-Packaging)