Digital's descent on web guiding continues, but converters also see value in tried-and-true approaches.
by Susan Friedman
Digital this and digital that. In package printing equipment, it's nearly impossible to avoid. Web guiding technology is no exception, though many converters are just now beginning to buy into their digital storyone that has been told for several years.
BST PRO MARK has produced digital signal controllers, complete with internal networking capabilities and a flexible module bus system, for more than 10 years.
The company's web guide expertise also includes ultrasonics, infrared, and CCD camera sensors, as well as pneumatic edge and servo-controlled sensor positioning.
From this wide-ranging perspective, Web Guide Product Manager Steve Hrycko sees "tons of the tried-and-true" out there. Converters like "safe, stable" options such as ultrasonic and infrared sensors; they don't want to worry about web guides beyond that, he adds.
In simplest terms, any "electric" guiding system is analog, while a "digital" system contains a microprocessor or computer to perform its functions, clarifies Eddie Engledow, web guide product manager at Fife.
If digital web guides are indeed what is desired, package printers need to determine how far they want microprocessor power to extend. Analog infrared or ultrasonic sensors might have digital controllers, while a digital camera-based sensor might have electrical controls.
Erhartdt+Leimer digital guiding systems now include digital sensors and digital controls, says Don Ross, V.P. sales and marketing.
An example is E+L's new FE-5001 CCD chip camera color line sensor for slitter/rewinder applications, which is connected to a digital control system via a CAN bus interface. The FE-5001 guides webs from edges, lines, broken lines, or print repeats, the latter of which eliminates the need for a guide line, reducing web widths for material savings.
Ross expects digital camera technology to become more pervasive in web guides, mainly to provide a greater variety of information. Broadened use of camera technology can also eliminate moving parts from guide systems, and thereby additional opportunities for inaccuracies, he explains.