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Blog Home How-To How to Automate your Print on Demand Process
How-ToApril 26, 2022

How to Automate your Print on Demand Process

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Double Helix for printing on stainless tumblers

If you hear, “print on demand” is your first thought Redbubble? Perhaps Café Press or Zazzle? Maybe Etsy comes to mind. It comes with no surprise that POD has grown fast and steady as personalization holds strong. POD has become a common practice for both e-commerce businesses and brick and mortar shopping. Vacation destinations such as Disney World have incorporated print on demand practices in their physical store front locations now. They are able to sell personalized souvenir t-shirts and phone cases, available in less than thirty minutes.

When it comes to print on demand, what are the best practices that a business can follow for the greatest success? Print on demand automation may be the solution you’re looking for. Automation is a broad term, but we have located specific processes during the print on demand printing process that could greatly benefit from automation.

Inkcups Solution to Print on Demand Automation

Automation doesn’t need to be a scary term, in fact, after implementation it will relieve stress and workload. With time, automation can reduce costs. We have identified two locations along the process that automation will make your life so much easier.

So far in 2022 we have introduced an innovative artwork preparation software and a collaborative robot. Both of these products will lift responsibilities from the operator and create a smooth workflow.

Automation with ArtPrep

How are you currently preparing artwork for printing? This is typically a time consuming and expensive process. Did you initially get into POD to share your creative gift with others? Only to find yourself bogged down with the additional step of taking the completed artwork and adding additional layers to each piece for print? Or perhaps you are outsourcing, a pricey endeavor.

ArtPrep will save you time and money. Pair your Inkcups digital printing machine with ArtPrep for a seamless workflow. It comes in two different versions, ArtPrep and ArtPrep Pro. Find out which of the two versions of the software is the best fit for your businesses needs here.

Upload your designs and ArtPrep will take care of creating the additional layers of (optional) primer, white, and varnish. Inkcups created ArtPrep to be so user friendly that an operator does not need prior experience. A process that once took graphic designers up to 15 minutes per piece of artwork will now be automated and take less than 15 seconds. Think of ArtPrep as a silent member of the production team, taking the tedious task of artwork preparation off the hands of the operator. This allows for added flexibility and less demanding skill sets required for operator positions in the already tight job market.  

With the nature of print on demand orders often being one-off prints, ArtPrep is a necessity to keep up with demand.


Robotics Automation

Let’s now explore a more physical aspect of the printing production line that can be automated. Physically loading and unloading your digital cylindrical printer can be a drag. Simply put, it is a mundane task. Eliminate this task entirely with a robot arm.

Automation for loading and unloading can result in three positive things: create consistent production times, 24/7 production capabilities, and the elimination of down time. The robot we offer can be added in four different configurations: to a single or Double Helix®, or to two single or two Double Helix®.

The universal robot arm features payload capabilities up to 11 lbs., reach length of up to 33.5” and six rotating joints. The robot is considered collaborative due to the six joints that are equipped with force sensors. These sensors allows the robot arm to halt movement when it identifies contact with a foreign object without causing further damage. This system can be paired with either a vacuum handling system or dual gripper handling system with the main difference of the two being the weight constraints.

Trade shows are a great venue to introduce the public to new and innovative products. If you’ve yet to visit us, check out our Trade Show event calendar to see when you can get a piece of the action. Back in January, our digital team introduced show goers of PPAI in Las Vegas, Nevada to our robotic system. Inkcups had a Double Helix® with automation capabilities equipped with the vacuum handling system palletizing plastic water bottles on display. Who knows what excitement the next trade show will bring!

Contact Inkcups to Get Started

Does automation for artwork preparation or for automated loading and unloading sound like it could benefit your operations? If so, reach our to one of the sales representatives in your area for additional information.

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