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Quality control has never been more crucial for converters than in today’s demanding market environment. A wealth of technology has been developed to monitor the printed web and ensure that it always meets the exacting standards set by the converter and the customer

New from BST International is QCenter a “revolutionary” web viewing, 100% inspection, and spectral colour measurement system based on newly developed software that integrates various functions on one platform. “Customers expect appropriate functions for their daily quality assurance tasks and do not want to deal with selecting different systems“, comments BST CEO Percy Dengler. “QCenter offers the solution to that.”

QCenter’s innovative concept is the integration of hardware and software components on one operator interface: the Graphic User Interface (GUI). This GUI picks up the control principle of smartphones and tablet-PCs and therefore is an intuitive tool for the operator. The touchscreen supports gesture control and offers central access to functions such as zooming, selecting fields of view, overview of the entire web width, and other quality assurance tasks.

The QCenter platform integrates various modules according to customers’ individual requirements and controls them centrally. Functions vary from simple web viewing up to complex defect detection and spectral colour measurement. The user is given a complete 1:1 overview of the whole web width in real-time thanks to the integrated high resolution line scan camera modules – on request also on a large Quad HDTV monitor wall.

The QCenter.Spectral system was developed by BST in close partnership with colour management specialist X-Rite. “For the first time, the results of inline spectral measurement can be exactly compared to those achieved using handheld equipment from the market leader,” it is claimed.

US manufacturer LVS’s range of inspections systems for the print and packaging industry has just been launched into the European market by AIS Vision Systems. AIS is now the European distributor for the LVS7000 series of 100% inspection systems for flexo and digital presses.

Claimed to offer “true 100% inspection”, the LVS 7000 is an in-line print process control system to inspect and map any number of fields at any size repeat, in any orientation across the form or print web. It will identify blemishes; provide Delta E colour process control; check for duplicates; perform sequential/random validation; and ISO read and grade 1D and 2D barcodes including QR Code, ECC-200 Data Matrix, Composite Code. The system also checks OCR and OCV, holograms/reflective/security marks, and roll mapping.

“Colour detection allows customers to monitor their colour process and ensure they have a colour match from beginning to end,” says Scott Lydell, North America sales manager at LVS. The colour detection feature – the Delta E module – continuously calculates the average L*a*b* values of all the pixels within a sector according to CIE 2000 specifications.

The Master-to-Label module is said to allow accurate identification and tracking of any type of potential print error, including print to die registration, diecut errors, brokenletters, skews, smears, spots, voids, wrinkles and hickies.

Tectonic International claims to be the first major print inspection systems manufacturer to offer the latest digital camera technology along with remote monitoring of the live print run. The company says its K3WiFi print inspection system is a low cost quality control tool which is proving invaluable to customers. WiFi image streaming is included in the standard K3WiFi specification along with a tablet, so that the printer and any other person responsible for the quality of the product can monitor the live run from any location.

The supplied iPad or tablet can also be used to monitor the information supplied by a press manufacturer’s machine monitoring App, so the printer and QA team have statistical and visual records of the print run easily available.

“Colour monitoring, registration check and a plethora of optional extras abound along with WiFi image streaming to an iPad or tablet,” states Tectonic. “This allows the press operator to monitor the print quality at the press using the installed monitor and from the remote iPad/tablet, which can also be used to store live images when required. Key staff invariably find themselves removed from the production floor as day-to-day running of the business takes them to another part of the building or another plant. With K3WiFi installed on the presses, even if managers are called overseas, they can still monitor the live print run and store images from that run on their iPad/Tablet.”

A new system from Webscan is said to be the first commercially available handheld two-dimensional (2D) barcode verifier for invisible barcodes used in security applications such as track and trace. The TruCheck 2D UV incorporates UV wavelength LEDs with a UV-sensitive CCD camera capable of verifying barcodes that are visible only under UV light.

According to Webscan president Glenn Spitz: “The TruCheck 2D UV empowers printers to verify the readability of invisible barcodes and diagnose printing issues like never before.

“From anti-counterfeiting and other security applications, to simply printing a code that does not disturb the graphics on a package, invisible barcodes are gaining more and more interest across several industries.”

Slovakian label converter Purgina is benefiting from the installation of AVT’s Helios II web inspection systems on its two Gallus presses. Bratislava-based Purgina is one of the leading suppliers of self-adhesive labels in Slovakia.

The company’s Gallus presses are a TCS 250 fitted with a screen printing unit, embossing, hotfoil stamping and flexo varnish capabilities, and an RCS 330 offset/flexo combination machine, which also has rotary screen and coldfoiling capacity.

General manager Stefan Kilarsky says the Helios II “has the best interface, is easy to learn and operate, and in the trials we conducted, it produced the best results”.

The company also invested in AVT WorkFlow for the press rewinds. The Helios system ‘marks’ print errors within the roll and presents this information to the splicing table at the rewind. This is achieved via the WorkFlow link, which uses a printed barcode to synchronise the web, and allows bad material to be stripped out and a perfect roll to be delivered to the customer. As it is fitted to the press, rather than the rewinder, the AVT technology is said to have significantly boosted Purgina’s productivity and profitability.

Colour compliance – spectrophotometers

QuadTech has questioned AVT’s claim that its SpectraLab “is the only ISO compliant spectrophotometer available on the market for the on-press in-line measurement of absolute colour and density values of colour critical packaging”.

John Seymour, QuadTech’s principal engineer, research, states: “There are no online spectros that fully comply with ISO 5-3. Compliance for an online spectro to ISO 5-3 is very, very tough, due to the illumination requirement in section 4.2.2.

“But compliance to ISO 5-3 is really not worth the effort, since density is deprecated in the general print standards. ISO 12647 requires CIELAB measurement and does not require density. So, ISO 5-3 is not relevant.”

He continues: “ISO 13655 is definitely relevant, since it defines how to measure CIELAB. The one “tough part” is illumination. This is tough because of the difficulties caused by fluorescent brighteners that are now in virtually every paper stock. In packaging, this might not be relevant, since these brighteners are nowhere near as prevalent.

“There are two versions of this standard: 13655:1996 and 13655:2009. The 1996 version (which is currently irrelevant for everyone) required a light source which was not available on any spectro, handheld or online.

“Until early 2012, there were absolutely no spectros available that were ISO 13655:1996 compliant. ISO 13655:2009 addressed this by providing four options for illumination: M0, M1, M2, and M3 (these are defined in 13655:2009, section M1 is the same as 13655:2009; M0 is basically ‘anything goes’.

“A spectro need only comply with one of the four conditions. If one claims compliance to 13655, for instance, one really should specify whether it relates to 1996, or M0, or M1, or M2, or M3.”

QuadTech’s SpectralCam inline colour measurement system is said to be compliant to ISO 13655:2009, under the measurement condition M0.

Seymour has written a layman’s guide to ISO standards for ink and colour measurement at his blog site:

In response to Quadtech’s viewpoint, AVT’s VP corporate marketing, Amir Dekel, states: “To our knowledge, AVT is the only inspection company that has publically declared compliance to various ISO standards of its new SpectraLab absolute colour measurement device for its on-line spectral monitoring.

“All other players in this field did not state or publish any formal spec that called for this compliance. As such, we cannot assume they have any formal compliance.

“AVT maintains compliance to several ISO codes among ISO 5-4:2009 and ISO 13655:2009 measurement condition M0. SpectraLab complies with the codes through its unique architecture and design. In terms of full compliance – this issue is not in the scope of our statement and as one of our competitors noted, there is no standard for this segment, and as such no full compliance was claimed.”

He concludes: “It is good to know that our competitors are also in compliance to some ISO code, as it helps in educating the market on the importance of standardisation in the chaotic world of online absolute colour measurements”.

“Revolutionary” – QCenter modules by BST QCenter Checking colour with Tectonic’s technology Tectonic

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