Pilot 1: Generic Substrate Carrier

The GSC (Generic Substrate Carrier), developed by Sioux CCM, is a stainless steel conveyor belt for very accurate transport of substrates. It is capable of transporting practically any kind of substrate, for example paper, cardboard or foils, but also wooden or glass panels. The system is particularly interesting for the industrial inkjet market, which is expected to exploit the GSC for the emerging 1200x1200 DPI registration challenge. Manufacturing equipment for single-pass digital printing faces an interesting challenge to deal with the growing productivity demand in combination with rising droplet registration accuracy. Although the administration speed of print-heads is still increasing, high throughput speeds and/or increased print resolution can only be achieved by using multiple heads in series. When using at least 4 different inks the distance between the first and last print-head can become more than 1 meter. The GSC can meet the challenge when the relative registration accuracy over such a distance must be less than 10 micrometer.

The GSC has a stainless steel belt in order to eliminate the mechanical (e.g. elasticity) properties of the substrate and prevent deformation of the substrate during transport. The substrate is clamped on the conveyor belt using vacuum technology. Many conventional steel conveyor belts and their steering systems cannot reach the previously mentioned accuracy target. The GSC uses movable segmented rollers to actively control and correct the position of the belt without deformation of the belt. This allows accurate control of transported substrates without deformation of the substrate over a large distance, which is ideal for the digital single-pass inkjet industry.

I-MECH building blocks related to high-speed vision, advanced data processing, high performance servo amplifiers, innovative control algorithms and automatic commissioning on a multi/many core control platform will be validated on a GSC system. Objectives are the increase of the bandwidth of control loops to further increase accuracy of the GSC at higher transport speeds, introduction of a high-speed smart, vision based position sensor and a significant reduction of commissioning and servicing times.