Always up for a challenge, the teams at Metas and Meteor Inkjet worked together to develop an unusual vertical inkjet solution within an unbelievable time frame.
- Metas Managed Label Services® works with companies to create an optimal label ecosystem. Metas maps the current label landscape by considering regulatory requirements, design desires, environmental factors, cost efficiency, and label production workflow integration and develops a solution for the optimal label ecosystem that fits the customer’s unique needs.
- Applications include beer, wine, spirits, condiments, food and beverages, chemical, cleaning, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, co-packaging and private labelling.
Metas Managed Label Services® (MLS) was tasked with developing an inkjet delivery system, from an industry-leading brand owner, to print on the reverse side of a substrate without turning it over. Essentially, an upside-down print engine, a previously unheard of configuration. Typically a project of this magnitude could take up to 18 months. Metas was given 16 weeks.
Making the impossible, possible
When Metas received the request, Blake Middleton, managing director of Metas MLS, immediately thought of Ken Hillier, regional director of North America for Meteor Inkjet. Blake recalls: “We knew, together with Meteor, we would be up to the challenge. Based on our previous interactions with them [Meteor], we had zero doubts that they could help us complete the project by the requested deadline.”
The teams at Metas and Meteor Inkjet quickly began working on the project to meet the urgent deadline. Meteor supplied the electronics and software to drive the system, which was based around a leading manufacturer’s printhead. Metas also used its partnership with a global ink laboratory to customise a unique ink set that could be efficiently applied upside down.
Metas chose Meteor’s PrintEngine SDK package for single pass applications, which integrated easily into both their custom-scripted operating system, mlsOS™, and graphic user interface (GUI). This made it easier to assist the client in strategic decision making and make sure they stay up and running at full capacity.
Ken Hillier explains: “One of the most unique aspects about this project is the ability to print upside down. This requires special attention to the ink delivery system (IDS), so Meteor employed the help of its partners to assist with the project. We knew with their years of experience in inkjet engineering, we would be fully prepared to tackle this project and any complications that may arise.”
Strong technical support
Blake explains: “This was also happening in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chain disruptions had placed additional stress on an already urgent deadline. The technical issues that we experienced compounded the pressure to complete the project. The team at Meteor was a great resource for us. They assisted with technical support and code troubleshooting of the unique bugs that surfaced.
“We had a clear vision of where we were going, but there was uncertainty about how we were going to get there. Both teams did an amazing job overcoming these issues.”
With the assistance of their partners, Metas overcame the odds and completed the project within 16 weeks. “It was difficult, but thanks to the teams involved, we did it.”
Blake continues: “Without our partners, I don’t think we would have been able to accomplish bringing this project from concept to completion within the given time frame. This project has opened up a whole new world of inkjet solutions, and we’re ready to take on more challenging and off-the-wall projects, especially when we have the backing of partners like Meteor.”
The PrintEngine SDK can be used for prototype all the way through to production. Its modular approach makes it easy for a developer to build a system with complex features. Once developed, any system using the PrintEngine SDK can be easily modified or updated to accommodate changes such as different head type, number of heads etc. It also offers a number of features including nozzle-out compensation, multiple sub-systems, mixed-mode operation, and fast image rotation, to name a few.
mlsOS™, a custom-scripted operating system, connects and controls all aspects of the label ecosystem including assets, people and tasks. It offers scheduling features, prints directly to press, auto-uploads finishing data and connects to existing ERP systems. It also has automated SKU tracking, revision tracking, compliance management, proof approval, file changes, built-in automation, and workflow improvement features.