Decoration Goes Digital
Configurable printing system
The printer is controlled by two PLCs, and the mechanism to program the various dispensing-pattern options is a homegrown solution, explains de Grood. Sensors like proximity switches and photocells are used for alignment. Depending on resolution, the speed of the printer can be up to 30 m/min with resolution as high as 30 dpi. The system has a reaction time of 200 µs. And with camera, the system accuracy is better than +/-1 mm. The HMI allows the operator to choose product, pressure and shutter times of valves. However, the camera runs autonomously.
The baths and curtain processes especially require an extensive cleaning procedure when switching between products—for example, when switching to a different color frosting or switching from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Because the FoodJet printer is a closed system, the switch can be done by connecting the reservoir with the new product and flushing the system before connecting the return flow to the reservoir. "A closed system prevents mixing of product ingredients or environmental contamination to ensure the best possible hygiene and food safety," says De Grood. "One of our customers managed to reduce the time it took him to switch between decoration fluids by 90%, as he no longer needed to spend four or five hours cleaning his machine. The transition time with the FoodJet printer now only takes several minutes."