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Label Printing Snippet Part 23: Web inspection systems


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One of the most important elements of printing is quality.

Even the best printers can miss defects, especially if they are small. Printers can also become complacent, which happens more than one might think, mainly on so-called easy jobs such as those with just one or a few colours. In my experience, these are the jobs that some printers seem to shrug off or are not on top of their game.

Web inspection systems can help a printer identify potential quality issues quickly. A printer should not rely solely on an inspection system but use it as a tool to help reduce waste and defects. Used in this way, it can be a printer’s best friend.

Benefits of web inspection systems

High-quality web inspection systems provide printers the opportunity to fix any print defects quickly; which is important considering the long web path of some presses. They also reduce waste and increase productivity, which are a big benefit for the company.

Web inspection systems can also detect defects at higher running speeds than the human eye could and still deliver a high-quality product. A workflow between the printing press and slitting machine can also be used to link the two together for even better inspection results.

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Types of print defects

The ability to be able to pick up print defects quickly and accurately is a valuable tool for printing and converting machines, and the initial cost will quickly be recovered.

Some examples of print defects are:

  • Barcodes
  • Spots/hickeys
  • Baring
  • Bouncing
  • Ghosting
  • Catch-up
  • Missing print and text
  • Slurring
  • Registration
  • Colour only available on some inspection units
  • Scratches

Print defects are highlighted in colour and the sensitivity can be adjusted to your requirements. For more information, contact your preferred web inspection supplier.

The finish line

Benefits of web inspection are also on the converting side. For example, adding web inspection to your slitting machine can help provide a final check for defects before product is shipped to your customer.

It’s also optimal if the slitting job is running at the same time as the print job. This allows communication between the departments and will let the printer know how much more they need to complete the job. It also allows the slitting operator to cut out or minimise the need for overs (extra meters for the job to be completed safely).

Optimising the workflow and editing provides the opportunity to pick up and fix issues by the departments working together. This will help provide a better finished product to supply your customer and keep them coming back.

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A step ahead of competition

Web inspection systems have come a long way in the last decade or so.

In my early days as a printer, I recall having a rotating mirror that matched the web speed or a strobe light providing a basic check at high speeds.

I’m not here to promote these systems but to provide insight into the possibilities when investing in a web inspection system and to outline how it can improve quality and efficiency while reducing costs and increasing profits.

This, combined with an intelligent printing press, can make you a step ahead of the competition and offer your company and customers peace of mind that their products will be delivered on time, in full, and of assured quality.

Whether adding a web inspection system to an old machine, a new press, or even upgrading, it can be a worthwhile investment for any printing company.

Get in touch

If you have questions or suggestions on this or any of my other snippets, please feel free to contact me.

You can reach me via LinkedIn or via email k.marsh@mps4u.com.

Kane Marsh

Kane Marsh

Kane Marsh is Regional Printing Instructor Asia Pacific with MPS Systems Asia, providing training on MPS' narrow web flexo presses and specialized label applications. Kane has direct print experience on multiple presses in a range of printing technologies including flexo, gravure, offset, screen and a variety of applications.

Tags: Flexo printing, Label printing, Operators, Label Printing Snippet

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