Thursday, 16 Nov 2017 19:20 GMT

KBA inspection systems

Brian Sims takes a look at the Quali Tronic Professional and Quali Tronic PDF 40, two quality control devices from KBA that are designed to help print companies achieve highly accurate output

Take control of print accuracy

Print companies are constantly wrestling with two diverging influences on their business. Firstly, they are running a business with less staff as more automation de-mans the production process. On the other hand, they are expected to do more to satisfy the ever-demanding customer. To be fair to the client, the end user is demanding perfect as standard, so everyone in the chain needs to lift their game.

The end user is demanding perfect as standard, so everyone in the chain needs to lift their game

KBA is doing its bit in the chain by providing to the printer a series of online and inline quality control devices. Its armoury of devices is impressive and here we look at two of them, namely the Quali Tronic Professional and Quali Tronic PDF 40.

While the two devices perform different roles on press, when coupled together, they would ensure that any product produced on any of their larger-format machines is individually checked and comes with a full PDF report comparing the proof with each sheet. So what does what?

Two in one

Firstly, we lift the covers on the Quali Tronic Professional. This device has the role of checking each and every sheet that passes under it, checking for image quality but also is capable of monitoring colour values; basically it is two systems in one.

Quali Tronic Professional works by using a camera that is integrated into the press on the last unit for straight and a second camera added for perfecting presses. It uses LED lighting to illuminate the printed materials and gathers masses of information on the colour and image content it has viewed.

Considering the first aspect of the dual purpose system, as each sheet passes under the camera, it is scanned and data fed back to the control desk where it is compared against a set of reference values.
The system measures each sheet in 0.2 seconds, which is at 20,000 sheets per hour and to a resolution of 50 to 100dpi for medium format and 35 to 70dpi on larger-format applications. The output of the colour measurements are displayed on the press control in a series of histograms showing the deviation from the reference value.

KBA’s Quali Tronic PDF 40 uses two 8K black and white cameras to pick up errors as small as 0.085mm on a print job

The decision to make any changes to the colour values is retained by the printer, so you do not turn the quality totally to the machine; but clearly no one can inspect every sheet so the system is a very helpful assistant.

The second aspect of Quali Tronic Professional is the checking of each sheet for any defects or flaws it finds. The camera’s data grab also looks to see if there are print-related problems that are either temporary, such as water drops, hickeys, or ink splashes, and longer lasting flaws such as toning, ink starvation, or over-under inking in any section of the sheet.

If it does see anything untoward, the large wall screen sitting to the rear of the press console displays the image and the precise areas where the system has concerns. The printer’s attention is drawn to any errors by means of a warning lamp and, if you require it, the system can be set to bring the press to a controlled stop for the error to be further investigated.

Regardless of the outcome, each sheet with a recognised error is tabbed in the stack, but an option is Pile View where a record is kept electronically of the nature and position of it. If you are very customer centric, you can even pass this information to the client on their external server.

Customers need more and more information on their production, and this is very relevant in the pharmaceutical division and high end packaging. The problem is mainly one imposed on the printer and client alike from an increasingly litigious world in which we live.

Accuracy is everything

Consider you have opened a packet of tablets and you cannot quite work out from the text, due to an error on the included dosage instruction, exactly how many to take. Most people would ask or not proceed until they are happy they actually know, but we are not all so thorough. There have been cases when people have taken medicines, become ill, and then sued the manufacturer.

To avoid this eventuality, printers working in this sector now need a device that inspects each sheet, views the content on it to the PDF proof supplied by the client, and then reports any differences that are seen. As further and vitally important step, the systems then need to record and report in hard or digitally copy the fact there are no errors present.
Step up KBA’s Quali Tronic PDF. This device is available for B1 presses and larger, and can scan the whole sheet again at the highest speed, as well as compare it to the logged PDF proof when the good copy is registered on the console.

The Quali Tronic PDF is available for B1 presses and larger. Pictured: the KBA Rapid 106 press

Technically, the system uses two 8K black and white cameras that are mounted at the last unit of the press. These cameras are capable of picking up even the smallest of errors on a sheet, as small as 0.085mm at a matching resolution of 300dpi from both the PDF and production.

As with the Quali Tronic Professional, the errors found by Quali Tronic PDF are displayed on the large wall screen on the press console. It recognises any errors, warns and tabs sheets with problems on them but due to the nature of the work being completed, Quali Tronic PDF outputs the data grabbed during the production run and produces a full report. This report shows and evidences the quality produced and more importantly the lack of anything on the sheet that could prove troublesome to the end user.

With this level of closed loop control on the production, even the most demanding of clients can be safe in the knowledge each and every packet or dosage sheet is as the original proof.

Even the most demanding of clients can be safe in the knowledge each and every packet or dosage sheet is as the original proof

Quali Tronic PDF and Quali Tronic Professional make very impressive quality control systems. They can be installed together on a press if you want to have the full overview of the sheet printed. KBA wrap this concept up as production monitoring and PDF comparison and inspection, and it is impressive to see it at 20,000 sheets per hour.

Brian Sims, principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy,

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