All colours available “just in time”

The constant availability within minutes of all colours in any desired amount constitutes a considerable advantage in terms of flexibility. Possible delivery deadlines by ink manufacturers, logistics, and the like are no longer an issue.

In addition, the amount is not an issue, since there is no need to order pre-determined bulk sizes, like 25 l hobbocks or similar. Instead, the desired calculated amount can be self-defined. This advantage is becoming more and more significant, essentially also contingent on order-size reduction, which today is growing ever more frequent. Smaller order sizes mean that ink has to be changed more often using smaller amounts of ink and thus also an increase in residual ink.

Compact, save and clean storage

With ink-mixing equipment in which all components are stored in a systematic, closed manner, optimal, safe storage is guaranteed when complying with all safety requirements that are documented in the European standard.

With respect to space needs as well, an ink-mixing system with existing basic components, from which any desired ink colour can be mixed, has a clear advantage over the chaotic storage of the highly diverse and numerous ink colours.

In addition, this also constitutes an orderly, structured, clean, and well-arranged materials flow. 

In designing the ink-mixing equipment, an optimal structure in terms of materials flow should be created with respect to the supply of fresh ink, the storage of residual ink, and the access pathways to the printing machinery.

A reduction in inventory amounts of basic inks also means a reduction in total inventory, which in turn also leads to cost reduction.

Recycling of return Inks

With regard to the deployment of mixing equipment and the direct financial savings potential, one of the economically significant issues is avoidance and use of residual ink.
Simply as a result of the variable production amount of ink and the pre-calculation made possible by the system on the basis of already proportioned orders, the resulting residual amount is reduced, since only that amount is produced that is actually used.
In this regard, it is also possible to start with sub-amounts. As a result of the high speed and flexibility of the proportioning equipment, the desired colour can be added subsequently at any time during the production process. In these two ways, it is possible to achieve a reduction of residual ink from the very outset.

Residual ink amounts that are system-dependent and come about depending on the printing machinery, which are necessarily evident when each batch is changed, can be reduced in the system in a number of ways optimally tailored to the customer using the proportioning system.

For this, there are the following possibilities:

  1. Residual ink of a so-called “fast mover”, i.e. colours that are often used again (e.g. core customers that regularly order certain printed images) can be specifically stored in a chaotically organised, managed storage system and always come back as a proposal in the system necessarily in a system-dependent manner. 
  2. Residual inks that occur less frequently and for which it is not worthwhile to store on an interim basis are collected in colour groups (normally, 4-8 different colours), e.g. in barrels, with the matching colour groups here being pre-defined in order to obtain the highest possible purity of the ink colours.
    Once these barrels are full, the inks can be mixed.

Thereafter, the ink colour is ascertained using a colour spectrometer and stored as a so-called “residual ink 2”. These barrels are then integrated into the proportioning system in a certain position and then automatically incorporated for subsequent orders, provided this is technically feasible from a colour standpoint.

Dark and somewhat dirtier colours are particularly suitable, and colorimetry systems calculate here basically three different variants, which are offered to the operator of the equipment as options.

The operator can then choose between the least expensive and the quality-wise best variants.

Residual ink in the system is given preference through the low financial assessment in the calculation of the mixed-ink price. In this regard, a preference for residual inks occurs automatically in comparison to a fresh-ink mixture. Ultimately, however, the operator always has the option to forego using residual inks for certain, conceivably sensitive customers or perhaps also in known sensitive colours.

Residual ink of a so-called “fast mover”, i.e. colours that are often used again (e.g. core customers that regularly order certain printed images) can be specifically stored in a chaotically organised, managed storage system and always come back as a proposal in the system necessarily in a system-dependent manner.

With ink systems that are not corrected on the printing machinery with respect to viscosity and ink strength, i.e. where manual adjustment work cannot be performed (e.g. for UV-flexographic, offset, or UV inks), there is the possibility of mathematical residual ink induction.

The residual ink used is stored in the system, and everything is tracked via a barcode.

If residual ink returns from the system, it is correspondingly stored, and the next time an order is placed, it is examined whether such ink colour can be nuanced into the desired ink colour through the addition of other inks.

Here, the equipment automatically calculates various proposals.

Cost saving in purchasing

Contingent on the purchase of basic inks for the mixing system, inks are ordered from ink factories not in 26 kg buckets but rather in 200 l barrels or even containers.

The price for basic inks is naturally lower than for pre-mixed inks, since a part of the production process is not needed.

Furthermore, this constitutes larger and thus less expensive bulk packaging. With often large annual amounts at printing firms from 100 tons/year to, in some cases, far more than 1,000 tons/year, this constitutes an additional significant cost savings.

Batch protocol and tracing

It goes without saying that the systems are outfitted with automatic batch tracing and identification. This means that for each order, the associated batch number for the inks used is stored in the history.

When each barrel of basic ink is changed, a new batch number is compulsively recorded, which means that the ink used is clearly identified.

It can also be read in the history at any later point in time and, in the event of a complaint, documented to the customer.

The customer itself can choose to record the data in the so-called “history” and store it there for as long as it wants.

The type and structure of storage can also be widely modified to meet the customer’s desires.

Automated cost calculations

Contingent on ink-mixing equipment and in conjunction with a modern ink database, the operator of the equipment has a broad spectrum of use options, including with respect to the management, processing, and calculation of inks.

All formulations are stored in the system under a formulation number. Located above the formulation database is the order database, where all designs, i.e. printed images to which various ink components belong, are stored. 

Designs that have already been proportioned in a corresponding order size, e.g. running metres, can subsequently be meaningfully used later as calculation orders for repeat orders. 

In various projects, Fluid Solutions has worked together with the end customer to develop a pre-calculation programme for the calculated usage amounts based on surface-area calculations. 

In addition to these meaningful management options and structures that accompany the system, the system can also be used, via an interface, both to record and relay inventory data and to ascertain ink usage when calculating new orders and identify corresponding costs. 

Fluid Solutions is capable here of modifying software by means of a consulting meeting, which can be used as a customer-specific benefit. In this regard, we recommend an IT discussion both with respect to both possible interfaces and with respect to modification of corresponding data and software structures.