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Rewriting the rules of continuous ink jet

Domino Printing Sciences is today launching the Ax-Series, a new range of continuous ink jet (CIJ) printers optimized for the most demanding industrial packaging environments.

Ax150i continuous ink jet printer
Ax150i continuous ink jet printer

In developing the new series, Domino has rewritten the rules of coding and marking by revisiting the underlying science behind CIJ and introducing innovations in three key areas. This has resulted in a comprehensive reengineering of the technology that will reset customer expectations of productivity, quality and cost of ownership.

Domino’s three ‘pillars’ of innovation across the Ax-Series are the new i-Pulse print head and inks, the i-Techx electronics and software platform, and Domino Design, a fresh approach to the total product design to maximise productivity and ease of operation.

Domino has gone back to the original science of CIJ technology to develop the new i-Pulse print head and unique frequency-matched drop generator. i-Pulse controls individual ink drop formation to create the perfect drop every time, delivering significant advances in droplet accuracy, placement and ink usage for reliable, high- speed and consistent code quality.

The new print head optimises print capability and readability, enabling even higher resolution messages to be printed, and generating multiple lines of data at the fastest print speeds, without compromising overall equipment efficiency (OEE). The higher quality codes are optimised for Machine Readable Codes (MRC) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems, which in turn reduce reject rates.

The robust nozzle-sealed print head design allows i-Pulse to be used in the toughest production environments, eliminating unplanned stops to significantly cut downtime and minimising cleaning, even when using pigmented inks. The ability to reduce ink build-up minimises the need for wash solvent.

A whole range of i-Pulse inks have been developed for the i-Pulse print heads ensuring reliability and high performance across a broad spectrum of applications. In addition completely new inks have been designed for more challenging CIJ applications including retort (sterilisation) processes, frozen food applications and returnable glass bottle processes. Unique new fast-drying, ketone free inks for flexible food packaging applications also form part of the extensive range. i-Pulse inks are designed and manufactured to recent global standards including the latest EuPIA Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for food contact material (FCM) applications.

i-Techx is Domino’s new, flexible, high-performance electronics and software platform. It is designed to optimise customers return on investment through the printers’ lifetime and eliminate coding errors by enabling the smooth integration of the Ax-Series into the production line and service support environment while taking usability to a new level.

Through use of the latest user experience (UX) development techniques the redesigned user interfaces are intuitive to use and include language and character options that enable operators to customise the touchscreen format and ensure easy operation is maintained. As a result i-Techx achieves System Usability Scores that are comparable to smartphones.

Designed from the ground up to be Industry 4.0 ready, the Ax-Series not only integrates into existing production lines but supports a variety of standard factory automation communication protocols such as PACK-ML and OPC-UA. Meanwhile the high-speed electronics enable serialisation and other unique item coding applications on the fastest production lines.

An array of integrated sensors automate system monitoring, allowing for proactive and predictive diagnostics and remote service support through the internet of things (IoT) and connection to the Domino Cloud. The Domino Cloud is being introduced alongside the Ax-Series to provide a powerful remote diagnostics, remote monitoring and customer reporting capability. Domino Cloud support is provided as standard on Ax-Series as part of the Safeguard Extended Warranty which is available for up to 7 years.

Domino Design summarises a holistic design approach that delivers a step change on the current generation of CIJ systems in the market to deliver printers that are robust, reliable, and easy to use in the harshest environments.

For example, the Ax350i and Ax550i feature an IP66 sealed electronics enclosure and unique plenum air cooling system that make them suitable for washdown conditions, while guaranteeing protection against steam and contaminants. The Ax550i is supplied in a marine-grade stainless steel cabinet for the harshest production environments.

Constant automatic monitoring and control of the ink condition through the unique Quality Management Module (QMM) ensures the ink is always optimised for the i-Pulse print head and promptly informs the operator when an ink, makeup or Service Free i-Tech filter Module (ITM) change is required. With the Ax-Series, traditional ink shelf-life is significantly extended and the number of operator interventions is substantially reduced, both factors significantly contributing to enhanced levels of OEE.

The three-stage solvent recovery system with active gutter control minimises solvent consumption, while the thermally engineered cabinet reduces heat build-up, extending component life.

The Service Free ITM can be replaced without tools or specialist skills, enabling continuous production with optimum line availability. Clean-Fill technology and colour-coded one-fit consumables eliminate the risk of spillage, and simplified overall design reduces stoppages.

Domino Design minimises operator invention and encourages tool-free operator maintenance, measurably reducing cost of ownership.

The new Domino Ax-Series comprises the Ax150i, the Ax350i and the Ax550i with a range of print heads and accessories – offering a choice of systems tailored to differing customer requirements.

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