Inkjet Control Valve Solutions

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Inkjet Control Challenge

This customer was having problems automating the ink delivery to printing heads. The customer specialises in print solutions for the postal sorting industry and was looking to save cost by using less ink caused by flow and maintenance downtime, and replacement and setup speed.

The customer’s old delivery system consisted of a manual valve for ink delivery and a plastic clip.  This system is trial and error until the operator gets the settings right; this is time consuming and very messy with ink loss.

Engagement

Site visits – problem identification:
The customer requested a site visit to discuss alternative solutions to the SMC valves they had on trial that were causing problems for them.  Two main problems were poor flow control due to the unbalance valve design and valves sticking due to heat build-up of coil causing ink to harden inside the valve.  This resulted in not only quality fluctuation but also production stoppages when the valve stuck.

Concept / Design:
The customer was presented with the MAC Stainless Steel Diaphragm Bullet valve with balanced poppet technology and Pulse With Modulation (PWM) electronics to limit heat rise.  It also provided a valve design with a coil and valve port configuration which will isolate ink from the coil heat rise.

Prototyping:
The customer has requested two sample valves, 2/2 Stainless Steel body with Diaphragm and ¼ ported base, 24vdc with flying leads.

Testing / Trials:
Trial valves are built with custom flow to the customer’s specifications and a test period also to the customer’s specified service scheduling requirements.

Production:
Production scheduling was not a concern for this project as the potential is only 300 to 500 per year, however, once proven this can be rolled out over the inkjet industry which will concentrate on production scheduling.

Solution

The solution aim is to deliver to the customer and the wider industry an automated ink delivery system that offers cost savings on production downtime and longer life due to the valve configuration; isolating the valve flow path from the coil area negates coil heat rise.  Further energy savings will be made through Pulse With Modulation (PWM) electronics built into the coil head.  In addition, more efficient use of ink due to the tailored flow for the application. The customer will generate data on cost savings when life trails begin.

Benefits

The benefits offered through the MAC Diaphragm Bullet valve is consistent flow; no sticking due to the high shifting force of MAC’s balanced poppet concept design.  There is also coil Isolation from the ink flow path, lower cost of ownership due to less downtime, ease and speed of servicing, longer life of the valve, cost saving on ink due to more efficient and consistent delivery to print head, and use of ink. This will offer a significant improvement to the production at the end user mailing houses, as current manual systems lose settings frequently leading to downtime and servicing.

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