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 technology. 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 behavior, 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 and 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," says Technoshell's director, Nikhil Baste, "so we place particular emphasis on quality, productivity and affordability."
Products and packaging featuring hot foil stamping are known to attract attention faster and retain it for longer compared to those without it. Hot foil stamping and heat transfer are forms of product decoration that use a combination of heat, pressure and dwell-time to permanently apply metalized or pre-printed graphics 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 its Pro Hot Foil Stamping machine, Technoshell revamped its machine design and mechanics as well as implementing CNC software. B&R's Automation Studio engineering environment 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 metalizing for any product," says Baste. "With the Pro Hot Foil Stamping machine, we are proud to say that we are the only company providing such high-end technology so cost effectively."
In virtually every industry, the rate of new product launches is at an all-time high. "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." 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 utilized the mapp Technology software framework provided in Automation Studio throughout all aspects of machine development. 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.
Creating a CNC application in addition to the standard hardware and application functions would previously have been unthinkable, but with the mapp CNC component was exceptionally easy. "Even as a CNC application, we still have full freedom to program our machine," says Baste. "That gives us a lot of flexibility in addition to high performance."
"We have been using B&R for around 10 years, and have seen clear benefits of their integrated approach on many occasions," observes Baste. "In all our machines, we have 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."
The use of ACOPOS P3 servo drives reduced the control cabinet footprint 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 as the universal programming tool for all B&R hardware. The Panel PC 2100 runs B&R's Windows-based real-time operating system, ARwin, and provides the 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 the 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."
Director, Technoshell Automations Pvt. Ltd.
"In all our machines, we have 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."