With the Omnifire 250, Heidelberg combines UV inkjet printing with advanced robotics to facilitate the personalization and decoration of a wide variety of three-dimensional objects. Different from most other solutions in this market, which are designed for industrial printing on a static shape or size, the Omnifire 250 offers flexibility, speed, and easy changing between objects of varying size and silhouette.
The Omnifire 250 provides immediacy to personalization of objects having complex shapes and a wide variety of surface characteristics on a mass production device. It transforms the type of objects that can be personalized using non-contact printing thus opening up existing and new markets/customers. The printer design and ease of use means the Omnifire 250 can be used in a retail or industrial environment or even as a mobile print center at sporting and music events.
Digital printing using the Omnifire 250 enables product decoration and personalization to be delayed to the last point in the production or sales cycle, providing significant added value to the product. It democratizes the printing to companies of all sizes and the potential applications are boundless, limited by the imagination of the user.
The Omnifire 250 is capable of printing on spherical, cylindrical, and conical objects up to 11.8 inches (300 mm) in size. It can print up to five colors, as well as pretreating the object with either plasma to change the surface energy or with a primer. The UV ink is initially cured after each color is printed and then a final UV curing is applied. This provides abrasion resistance and adherence characteristics of the image, with the object being able to be used immediately once removed from the machine. Coating applications are also available when needed for aesthetic or further protection requirements.
The Omnifire 250's inkjet heads have the ability to print up to 70mm wide for 360 degrees around the objects to be printed. If a wider image is required, then stitching of the image for multiple passes adjacent to each other is carried out. This required the development of additional control algorithms so that the quality of the image was not degraded as part of the stitching process. Prior to printing, the object's shape and size are verified for dimensional tolerance by the machine to ensure safe operation of the machine, reliability, and print quality. Following the scan, the deviation from the defined shape is calculated and the advanced robotics then adjust the relative position of the object, on the fly, as it moves under each of the print heads ensuring maximum print quality and maintaining the integrity of the heads from contact with the object.
High precision robotics are used by the Omnifire 250 for axial and rotational control of the items being printed. The objects are all scanned prior to printing so that any variations can be adjusted for and the optimal distance from the print head maintained. Control algorithms allow for precise register and smoothness of print quality throughout the full print swath.
This is further enhanced with non-spherical objects by adjusting the printing speed, ensuring that the highest print quality is achieved regardless of image size or shape. In addition, the design utilizes quickchange object holders that minimize makeready time with changeover between objects being only seconds.