Another real-life coding case

Euroblast N.V. ( has been a fully-automated steel shot blasting company based in Antwerp (Schoten) Belgium since 1984, specialised in blasting and conserving steel plates for shipbuilding, tank construction, offshore applications and industry. They work for the top and upper-levels of the steel world in Europe. Export orders go all over the world. The fully-automated blasting and painting line, which is more than 100 metres in length, is located in the centre of the company (surface area +/- 7,000 m2). Euroblast’s goal is to provide their clients with the most complete solutions for their projects.

They aim (with their suppliers too) for long-term partnerships, in which high quality, flexibility and mutual trust are a matter of course.

Automator has been Euroblast’s partner for over 10 years for supplying coding solutions within the company. The first solution, delivered all those years ago, was a Drop On Demand inkjet. In the first years, the printer system grew from 1 controller with 2 print heads to 4 print heads.

New ink type launched
In 2012, white ink was required for printing in addition to the previously used black ink.
White ink is pigmented. Working with white ink requires extra attention to detail:

  •  When stationary, the pigments in the ink form a sediment. In order to avoid this, the ink must be continuously pumped around.
  • The pigments in the ink cause the print heads to become blocked more often. Only maxi print heads are suitable for working with this ink.
  • Because the ink is pumped around in a different way, a different method of flushing is also required. The flush system of the print heads must be adjusted.
  • White ink is more sensitive to cold. In the winter, the production hall is cold, and it can even freeze over. The ink system must be placed in a heated cabinet. The ink lines must also be heated.

Introduction of a new system
When arriving at a coding solution, one must take into account all the issues that come with working with white ink. The installation of the first Matthews coding solution at Euroblast became reality. The system consisted of 2 controllers and 4x 16-dot print heads. Automator explains why this solution was chosen: “At Automator, we have had very good experiences with Matthews print heads. They work very well with quick-drying inks such as MEK-pigmented ink. I’d go as far as to say that the print heads are a cut above the competition. They are, for example, easy to clean and almost never become blocked.”

Expand and replace
Four years later, in 2016, Kristof Buyst, General Manager at Euroblast, approached Automator with another challenge in the form of a specific coding question. The system that worked with white ink needed to be expanded, and the old system with black ink needed replacing. Guy didn’t need to think for long before finding a great solution for the request. The Matthews equipment proved itself as being perfectly able to satisfy Euroblast’s coding needs. In addition, the Mperia controller by Matthews makes it very easy to control several coding systems.

More print heads, but fewer control units
The Mperia controller by Matthews can, depending on the software licence, control up to 40 print heads. The total number of print heads at Euroblast has almost doubled. By using the Mperia system for controlling the print heads, the number of controllers has been reduced from three to just one! With the Mperia controller, a print of up to 9 lines of text can be nicely aligned and distributed across a steel plate. The various texts are created as variables and can subsequently be inserted without any typographical errors very easily.

Automator mentions some other advantages of the Mperia system: “The 12" touchscreen is very user-friendly. Much less time is lost by programming and testing the prints. The ‘enclosed’ version of the 12" touchscreen offers IP 54 protection, and is thereby suitable for Euroblast’s industrial environment.”

Future Plans
At Euroblast, the desire is to eventually retrieve the prints from a central data system and directly print them. The Mperia system is able to automatically pass on incoming data to the print heads and thereby give the print job.

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