It’s not hot air getting the message across

Silk screen printing of latex balloons is helped by pneumatically operated silk-screen print heads

Having designed and manufactured special purpose machines for more than 20 years Gravurequip decided it was time to produce a printing machine to accompany its already successful automatic balloon feeder.

Working with Festo it was felt the solution was to design the system around the control of a Type: SF3, 18 station valve terminal with integrated PLC. The flexibility of the intelligent SF3 was far superior to that of a stand alone PLC, enabling Gravurequip to program and fine tune the system to meet the customer’s requirements whilst keeping pneumatic and electrical connections to a minimum. The printer has a ten station rotary index table with two silk-screen print heads pneumatically operated.

An automatic feeder supplies the machine with balloons where they are inflated to a controlled size and pre-stressed to test that each individual balloon can withstand the pressure of the print head operation. This is an important feature as any balloon bursting under a print head reduces the quality of print on subsequent balloons and causes `down time’ in cleaning silk-screen trays.

The PLC will then continue to monitor balloon conditions via sensors throughout the rest of the process and any balloon that may burst or deflate within the system will be detected and all subsequent operations for that balloon inhibited. Balloons are finally unloaded and the PLC is then able to segregate the good from the bad ensuring that only suitable goods are available for despatch.

The printer coupled with the automatic print feeder produces 1500 double sided balloons per hour, and the process is virtually automatic requiring only that the balloon level in the hopper is maintained.

Festo Tel: 01252 775000