The printing business today is more competitive than ever. Maximum productivity, minimum waste, consistency and high quality are essential. Even the smallest defects during the production process can adversely impact the quality of entire print runs.
But it can be a major headache identifying typos, color issues, paper creases and smudges on major print assets such as brochures, product packaging, glossy magazines and mass circulation newspapers - before it’s too late. At best, poor quality will prove highly embarrassing for any printing company, at worst, extremely costly and possibly risk losing customers.
Printing mistakes can and do happen – we’re all human after all.
Clearly, there are several disadvantages of relying on manual print quality control methods. It’s subjective, experience-related, and humans are prone to fatigue. It’s also very time-consuming and so very costly from a labor perspective.
In order to assess print quality in progress, the inspector must check the print product according to various criteria. The simplest and oldest way is visual inspection of individual sheets by hand to see whether the printed product has any defects such as ink smearing or blotching. While printing machines now provide the highest level of quality, some quality degrading defects cannot spotted by humans, no matter how efficient and experienced. Things such as missing and weak nozzles, splashes, scratches, stains, creases, stripes, or color and register deviations are day to day hazards, as well as color tone fluctuations. Understandably, this can put quality control inspectors under considerable strain.
IN TODAY’S HIGHLY COMPETITIVE PRINTING INDUSTRY, THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCTS MUST BE RIGHT FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME.
These days, professional printers are always pressed for time - under permanent cost and performance pressure - as customers increasingly adopt a zero-defect tolerance policy. This means the need for speed, for ensuring maximum productivity, while also maximizing quality and minimizing waste. Fully automated inspection is the solution, offering the potential to overcome the limits of the human eye and ensure safe and reliable quality control.
Using the latest image processing technology with line scan cameras and image sensors, AI-enabled print quality assurance systems can immediately detect and report faulty print objects. Before each printing process, for example, Contact Image Sensors (CIS) mounted on the printing presses can check all ink nozzles are present and correctly positioned, and if not, alert the inspector accordingly. Typically, an integrated database stores the inspection results and provides comprehensive information for an objective and complete documentation of the quality. In fact, line scan camera and CIS image processing technology can provide almost 100% error-free printing, even at the highest print speeds and color resolutions, while guaranteeing color stability and uniformity throughout the entire printing process.
AI-enabled visual inspection technologies ensure highest quality in industrial 3D printing
AUTOMATED AI VISUAL INSPECTION SOLUTIONS ARE EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO INDUSTRIAL 3D PRINTING - ALSO KNOWN AS AM (ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING).
In fact they are now seen as essential by the many manufacturers still looking for greater quality control assurances when it comes to 3D printing component strength and reliability. Although 3D printing may offer huge potential for producing designs previously considered impossible, the difference of a few microns in the geometry of a machine, vehicle, or aircraft component could prove disruptive, or even be a matter of life and death.
Until recently, specialized, high performance computing resources have been potential limiting factors in the future advancement of quality control for industrial 3D printing. Access to the computing power necessary has been a major obstacle, for handling the unprecedented volume of video data generated during real-time 3D printing process monitoring.
However, as demand grows for AM/3D printing in production environments, purpose-designed simulation software is becoming more widely available. Together with AI and more powerful, yet affordable computing platforms, it can finally deliver the real-time processing and quality control manufacturers really need.
KONTRON’S LATEST SERVER SOLUTION FOR AUTOMATED AI PRINTING INSPECTION SYSTEMS
Kontron has recently introduced a new high performance industrial server for supporting the growing real-time processing and storage requirements of AI-enabled monitoring and inspection quality control systems for both traditional and 3D printing. The new KISS V3 4U SKX features Dual Intel® Xeon® SP series processors, up to three double width high-end GPU cards (e.g. NVIDIA® TESLA® V100, NVIDIA® T-4 GPU) for providing extremely high GPU performance, and for extended storage, up to eight 2.5" storage trays can be installed.
No doubt for many hard-pressed printers and 3D printing component manufacturers, AI-enabled quality control solutions will be a welcome sight for sore eyes. Who would want to leave things to chance for a moment longer?
For more information about Kontron’s KISS rackmount server solutions please visit: https://www.kontron.com/industries/automation/products/rack-mount-systems
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