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Inca Automates Columbia Production

Productivity increased to 377 sq ft/hr

Big Picture

With the launch of a semi-automated loading/ unloading system for its Columbia and Columbia Turbo printers, Inca reports that it has increased these printers' productivity by as much as 377 sq ft/hr. By streamlining the materials handling for the flatbeds, the company has maximized the printer's throughput and reduced changeover time by a third, from 45 to 50 sec to approximately 10 to 15 sec, it says. The system is designed to handle materials as small as 1 sq m and up to 1.6 x 3.2 m; it can be used with material up to 10 mm thick (maximum sheet weight is 10kg).

"The equipment is designed for use with a wide range of rigid and flexible materials, and the modular concept means it suits different production layouts," says Bill Baxter, Inca's managing director. "The system offers a significant reduction in manual handling, to the extent that customers with two Columbia Turbos could feasibly run both with only one operator."

The complete system includes a preload stack on a manually operated scissor lift, and a preload table to prepare the material (removing film, bushing away dust, etc.). An automatic offload unit picks up the printed stock and moves it from the vacuum table to the offload pallet, while the operator simultaneously positions a new sheet on the vacuum table. An electronically powered tug for easy removal and stacking of printed matter is also available.

Customers can purchase only the modules they need; the complete automated system sells for approx. $150,000 ("?85,000).


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