Elastic straps are found virtually everywhere – not only in industry, logistics, household and leisure. Also in lifts, kitchen drawers, trampolines and gym equipment. They may be immediately conspicuous or fitted concealed. They are always essential, however, because equipment will often not work without these flexible straps. Something as significant as this must necessarily be of top quality – and suitably marked to ensure traceability. “We are fully aware of the responsibility we have here. We have been developing and producing high grade, woven textile covered latex bands for more than 10 years,” says Andreas Neumann, Managing Director of the company of the same name in Solingen (Germany).
Andreas Neumann produces flexible straps in various colours and marks the batches spaced 150 millimetres apart. Not to detract from the visual appearance of the straps with their different and sometimes very shrill colours by marking, the Weber Marking Systems marking experts suggested printing with a Markoprint X1JET inkjet printer and invisible UV ink. "This idea convinced us. The marking can only be detected under black light and is thus totally inconspicuous!" says Andreas Neumann.
Andreas Neumann GmbH sheaths flexible straps with PE, PP or PET fibres. This braided sheath absorbs the ink well, ensuring fast drying and thus particularly durable marking. "Our quality controls will subject our straps to cyclic load tests with up to 300 000 cycles," explains Andreas Neumann: "We discovered in the course of this that not only the straps, but also the batch markings withstood these tests with flying colours!"
This robust marking process will not even require much space: Weber Marking installed a tiny inkjet printer in Andreas Neumann’s production plant. This Markoprint X1JET houses both controller and printing unit in a space equivalent to about two cigarette packs. Up to nine different texts for printing may be called up at the push of a button, including text, serial numbers, barcodes or logos. The print data will be transferred to the unit in advance via USB stick, serial interface or by Ethernet directly from the company network.
Andreas Neumann has linked the X1JET via Ethernet. The i-Design software installed on his PC generates the batch numbers automatically and transfers these to the printer. As the straps pass through the unit they are marked invisibly at a height of 12.5 millimetres. A rotary encoder connected directly to the printer will communicate the correct product speed. A sensor will simultaneously determine the length of the straps, allowing the automatic hot cutting machine to cut the straps to the required length.
Weber Marking offers a wide range of inks and colours. Markoprint's thermal inkjet printers can use ink cartridges of various manufacturers. The Andreas Neumann X1JET uses Hewlett Packard UV ink. As soon as the desired print image is received, the printer will estimate the maximum number of prints per cartridge. One cartridge will produce more than 520 000 markings at Andreas Neumann. Various methods are available to increase the projected number of print images: The two rows of printhead nozzles may, for instance, print only alternately instead of simultaneously. This would double the number of prints and halve the cost of ink. The standard 600 dpi resolution could, alternatively, also be reduced.
The patented Click'n'Print system will allow operators to replace ink cartridges with a single hand movement. And, since the printhead is part of the cartridge, a “new printer” will virtually be in action after each ink change. This renders the X1JET just about maintenance-free. With longer intervals between printing, users may remove the cartridge from the unit and seal it with a cap. This will prevent the ink from drying out.
The Markoprint X1JET cartridges will allow 12.5 millimetres printing height. For larger print images, Weber can offer alternative systems for installation of up to eight printheads. This will allow up to 100 millimetres of print height. In combination with the high 600 dpi resolution, Markoprint technology can thus offer an interesting alternative to carton labelling. Alternatively, the up to eight deployable printheads may also be “split”, to simultaneously print both sides of a carton, for instance. Printheads offering more printing height, but lower resolution, are also available.