One of the most popular ways to give products a high-visibility edge on the store shelf is foil stamping. Technoshell Automations has made a name for itself by building the machines that apply this techonology. To achieve the desired accuracy and precision in their highly complex multi-axis machines, Technoshell relies on innovative, advanced automation technology from B&R.
From personal relationships to purchasing decisions – first impressions are always critical. The appearance of a product plays a major role in influencing consumer behaviour, and every industry has its tricks and techniques to grab consumers' attention and convey the desired brand image. Technoshell Automation is a 28-year-old company offering complete printing and packaging solutions to a wide range of customers. With in-house design, machining, software development capabilities coupled with state-of-the art production capacity backed by high-tech machines and the latest automation technology, they are experts and leaders in their field. "Our machines are designed with our customers' needs in mind, so we place particular emphasis on quality, productivity and affordability," says Technoshell's Director, Nikhil Baste.
There are clear advantages of hot foil stamping on products and packaging: they are known to attract attention faster and retain it for longer compared to products and packaging without it. Hot foil stamping or heat transfer is a form of product decoration that uses a combination of heat, pressure and dwell-time to apply metallising or pre-printed graphics permanently on a product. "Our hot foil stamping machines and heat transfer machines operate on up-down and roll-on principles to cover a wide range of applications. We offer a wide range of machines to beautify products and packaging," notes Baste.
Hot foil stamping on a flat surface or a simple geometry in two dimensions is a relatively straightforward process. With the addition of a third dimension, things become more complex – and even more so when the task involves hot stamping on a curved surface. In such applications, the challenge is to maintain the required temperature, pressure as well as adequate contact between the roller, foil and object.
With Pro Hot Foil Stamping machine, Technoshell revamped its machine design and mechanics as well as implemented CNC software. B&R's Automation Software played a major role in simplifying the development process.
The stamping process begins with the operator loading the product onto the machine, protected by safety light curtains. The safety interlocks prevent any accidents during loading. The foil containing the pattern to be printed on the product is pulled by the puller axis over the product. Another set of arms place the foil tightly against the product.
The desired product profile is loaded in the software and the stamp is applied by a two-axis roller driven by a stepper motor. An X-Y axis gives it the necessary vertical and horizontal freedom, while the third axis allows for 360° rotation. For the hot stamping process, the roller is heated to over 100°C.
Once the stamping is over, the arms lift upwards and the foil is pulled away by the stepper axis in order to be ready for the next cycle. "Our hot foil stamping machines provide photographic resolution with the possibility of metallic colors. They offer a permanent and safe decoration solution for complex curved surfaces and are a more sustainable solution compared to metallising for any product,” says Baste. “With Pro Hot Foil Stamping machine, we are proud to say that we are the only company providing such high-end technology so cost effectively," he emphasised.
The rate of new product launches is at an all-time high in virtually every industry. "Catering to such rapidly changing demands is becoming a challenge for machine builders,” reports Baste. "Thanks to B&R, our machine can handle such requests easily and be ready for any change without requiring us to spend time on-site," he added. Programming new products on the machine is very easy and fast. The G-code created while designing the product can be loaded directly onto the controller, or the operator can use the graphical user interface to modify an existing product or create a new one.
The Pro Hot Foil Stamping machine features a Panel PC 2100, which serves as an integrated HMI/PLC unit and controls the entire machine. This is coupled with remote X20 I/O modules, ACOPOS P3 and ACOPOSmicro servo drives over a real-time Ethernet POWERLINK network.
Technoshell utilised mapp Technology software framework provided in Automation Studio in all aspects of machine development, with mapp CNC component being the highlight. Having previously used mapp Technology in other machines, Technoshell was well aware of its features and benefits.
The mapp philosophy of configuring more and programming less helped the company substantially reduce development time. mapp CNC made developing CNC application much easier. Making a CNC application in addition to the standard hardware and application functions would previously have been unthinkable. "Even as a CNC application, we still have full freedom to program our machine," says Baste and adds, "That gives us a lot of flexibility in addition to high performance."
"We have been using B&R for around 10 years, and we have seen clear benefits of their integrated approach on many occasions,” observes Baste. “In all our machines, we have effectively used POWERLINK as the vendor-independent networking protocol. It helps us to choose from a list of vendors for various components and yet be able to program, commission and diagnose them in Automation Studio," he shares.
The use of ACOPOS P3 servo drives reduced the footprint in control cabinets drastically – by around 69%. The POWERLINK network needs just a single Ethernet cable across the cabinet to the Panel PC 2100. This reduces cabling effort and improves maintenance. All the systems are tightly linked together with Automation Studio, the single programming tool for all B&R hardware. The Panel PC 2100 runs B&R's Windows-based real-time operating system, ARWin, and provides robustness and determinism needed for industrial applications.
Today's manufacturers demand machines that are ready for Industrial IoT. For years, Technoshell has already been providing its customers with features like remote diagnostics and maintenance, integrated and connected machines, usage of open source technologies, scalable and flexible machine design and much more.
"We build machines that satisfy complex and varied demands of the printing and packaging industries," says Baste. "Our focus has always been on equipping our machines with next-generation technology. By coupling B&R solutions with our industry expertise, we have consistently been able to offer our customers precisely that kind of advanced solution," he concludes.
Director,Technoshell Automations Pvt. Ltd.
“In all our machines, we have effectively used POWERLINK as the vendor-independent networking protocol. It helps us to choose from a list of vendors for various components and yet be able to program, commission and diagnose them in Automation Studio.”