Cables and wiring rapidly imprinted

03 May 2018

Modern cable extruding machines can operate at a similar pace to a hunting lion (more than 60km/h). However, according to Paul Leibinger GmbH & Co. KG, this means marking systems run the risk of creating bottlenecks in production. A solution, it says, is its JET Rapid continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer.

Users of the printer include cable manufacturers such as HUBER+SUHNER from Pfäffikon in Switzerland. As part of the cable manufacturing process, electrical or fiber optic wires shoot through extruders which coat them in a protective outer layer made of materials such as Teflon or PE. Top of the range production systems are getting faster and faster: some of them now able to operate at up to 60km/h. Leibinger says these are speeds that threaten to bring the printers located downstream of the extruders to their knees. The manufacturer's name, logo, batch number and length label can become distorted and, in the worst case, completely illegible. The consequences present a real challenge to many cable manufacturers: if the printer hits its limit for a mere 2min, 2km of expensive cable will end up in the trash.

"To ensure our printers didn't become a bottleneck in these high-speed production systems, we developed the JET Rapid CIJ printer, which is one of the fastest industrial marking systems in the world", explained Christina Leibinger, MD at Leibinger. "The printer guarantees a reliably legible typography, even at system speeds of 1000m/min." 

The JET Rapid is predestined for high-speed labeling tasks in the wire, cable and pipe manufacturing industries, confirmed HUBER+SUHNER AG, a Swiss company with a global reach in the electrical and optical bonding technology industry. "We ran exhaustive tests to compare this printer with machines from other manufacturers", said Thomas Haab, project manager at HUBER+SUHNER AG. "These tests proved that only Leibinger's printers can achieve the speeds we require." 

The printer's automatic Sealtronic closure system is said to give it exceptional reliability. The gutter is retracted and the nozzle is closed to create an airtight seal when the printer is not working. This prevents the ink from drying out and blocking the nozzle. As a result, there's no need for time-consuming cleaning.

The printer can print at a rate impossible for the human eye to see. A minute spray nozzle in the cylinder-shaped printhead, mounted above the cable, fires 128,000 electrically charged ink drops towards the gutter every second. A high voltage field between the gutter ends changes the trajectory of the individual ink drops. The drops land on the cable as pixels, and are dry in less than a second. Information such as the manufacturer name, data matrix code and graphics appear on the cable as if painted by an invisible hand. And not just in black, yellow and blue: in a recent development, the JET Rapid can now even print easily readable, white text on black cables, by using specially pigmented inks.