Robotic systems specialist Clinchtech has built and installed its first robotic automation system for an HP Scitex press.
The Suffolk-based manufacturer built the device for French POS packaging printer Cartoneo, which required a flexible robotic load and unload system that integrated with the existing onboard automation on its Scitex 11000.
Clinchtech produced the system in collaboration with both Cartoneo, which has also recently introduced robotic automation to its multi-zone Esko Kongsberg C66 cutting table, and HP.
The robotic automation system took around 12 weeks to build and was installed onto Cartoneo’s Scitex last month. Fully integrated with the printer’s operating system, the device delivers vision aligned and controlled media to the onboard Scitex layup platform.
A communication handshake then allows the onboard Scitex automation to take over and process the media as normal before out-feeding via an integrated conveyor system.
“We’ve not interfered with the operating system on the Scitex but we have communications between our control system and their control system. The user has an operator facing panel that gives them all the information they need to set their jobs and cameras,” said Clinchtech project engineer Andy Griggs.
The printed media exits the press to the waiting robot offload, at which point a robot ensures media placement to the clean out-feed stack.
During the print cycle, the robotic handling system delivers the next media to be printed onto the Scitex layup platform, which is then ready for the printer’s automation to take over.
The automation is designed to allow either full, partial or manual function from the Scitex and the Clinchtech system also enables lights-out operation, meaning long runs can be processed 24 hours a day with only new material stacks required.
Clinchtech said the robotic automation increases the Scitex’s ability to in-feed and out-feed accurately, with multiple media stacks of up to 1.7m high, and generally enhances the press by boosting its output while also being able to adapt to small runs without the robotic automation obstructing it.
“We’ve added robotic automation systems to Inca Onsets in the past but this is the first HP Scitex that we’ve done,” said Griggs.
“We’ve also got some smaller versions of this system out in the field. The whole thing has almost grown now to a standard product range based around the printers that we’ve done.
“Because it’s typically always a similar size – 3.2x1.6m or 1.6x1.2m – its tended to grow around that and the format is more or less the same. The only thing that typically changes with each installation is that the overall automation cell layout is configured to what a customer has from a building perspective because some have low ceilings or strange shaped buildings.”
Griggs said the cost of one of Clinchtech’s robotic automation systems is generally around the £150,000 mark.