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Published on July 20, 2022

Sleeve Inspection Systems

To ensure consistent quality in flexo printing, it is important that plate sleeves are in good condition. Heaford’s sleeve scanning systems are an option available on 2CM+, 2CS and Automounter models.  These precision scanning systems are used for checking, recording and tracking TIR (the Total Indicated Runout of sleeves) and surface quality. They can either be contact sensors or laser systems and measure with very high accuracy.

The advantage of scanning sleeves provides important control over print quality. A regular scanning programme means that damaged or out of specification sleeves do not enter the production process, helping to maximise production efficiency. A scan history of the sleeve can be viewed on a graph and a projection based on historical usage indicates the theoretical remaining life of the sleeve. This information is critical to quality control of used sleeves and therefore reducing printing press downtime.

Including an inspection option on a plate mounter is a very cost effective way of adding this productivity enhancing system as opposed to a standalone machine. A Heaford plate mounter is precision built and therefore the frame and components required for an accurate inspection system are already in situ.

The different inspection systems available are :

  1. TIR measurement – contact sensor

A high precision contact sensor measures radial scan points (circumference) at user-defined points across the width of the sleeve. A linear or axial plot is available that indicates the TIR for any band (measurement) across the width of the sleeve. The measurement time of a sleeve is approximately 60 seconds. Used for polymer or aluminium mandrels and sleeves, it is the most common and most economical system. A contact sensor cannot be used with Twinlock sleeves due to the adhesive surface.

  1. TIR measurement – laser sensor

This system uses a non-contact triangular displacement laser sensor, with higher repeatability accuracy and with a linear or axial pattern. The measurement time of a sleeve is approximately 120 seconds. This system can be used to measure Twinlock sleeves in addition to mandrels and polymer and aluminium sleeves.

  1. Surface scanning – laser

This system scans in widths from 40mm to 100mm and generates a contour map of the sleeve surface allowing identification of high and low spots, cut damage, etc. An axial map is also available which indicates TIR for any band measured across the width of the sleeve. The system can be customised according to requirements, from quick passes with several measurements to a deep surface measurement.

Measurement accuracy is +/- 25 microns and the measurement time will depend on how much of the sleeve is inspected but typically around 180 seconds. This system generates a contour map of the surface and can be used for mandrels, polymer and aluminium sleeves, but not Twinlock sleeves.

For further information please contact [email protected]