Awards & Engraving

January '20

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A&E JANUARY 2020 • 49 The next step is pre-planning your environment before launching into digital print. How much floor space will need to be dedicated to this decoration process? Is the environment clean enough for the digital printing process? Is the environment climate-controlled? What type of labor will be used (manual versus automation)? A&E: And how about equipment considerations? Smith: Ask yourself which type of digital printing equipment is right for your appli- cation. What type of throughput is needed now and in the future? There are small tabletop printers and large-format flatbed printers, which can be manually loaded with parts or set up for automatic loading. For much quicker printing output, there are high-speed single-pass and custom high-speed printing systems that integrate into the manufacturing process. These sys- tems can be set up for inline production printing, off-line printing, or integrated into work cells. The printing work cells can easily be ramped up for expansion should the work demand increase. Using modular workstations can assist in growing the digital printing operation as new digital printing advancements are introduced into the marketplace. Digital printing is growing by leaps and bounds, with numerous advantages over traditional product decorating options. However, the industrial aspect of digital printing must be carefully mapped out, with consideration given to all of the variables. A&E: What factors play a role in a quality final product? Smith: Once you have selected your printer, ensuring a good print requires that you prepare your shop for this printer. You must maintain a heated and cooled shop space that can be temperature-reg- ulated to between 68 to 80 F. Similar to motor oil, ink thins as it heats up and thickens as it cools. Maintaining this con- stant temperature ensures that the printer runs at peak performance. Secondly, you need a clean environ- ment. Motors, boxes, dust, and dirt are detrimental to your printer's perfor- mance. Your printer is a highly sophis- ticated electrical piece of equipment. You must also make sure that your substrate is kept clean. Next, you need to understand the role that static plays, and how to control and keep it to a minimum. Digital printing is growing by leaps and bounds, with numerous advantages over traditional product decorating options. IMAGE COURTESY GCC AMERICA INC. Today's UV printing has come a long way — there are only a few substrates that it isn't ideal for. IMAGE COURTESY INNOVATIVE DIGITAL SYSTEMS

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