Tablet simplifies operation of inkjet coders

Lisa Pierce in Coding on September 06, 2016

Most packaging lines today need simplicity, mobility and security to operate effectively. And with nearly every production operation required to print a code somewhere on the packaging, hitting this trifecta with your coding equipment could be a real win.

That’s the idea behind the new Orion Touchscreen Tablet Kit from Squid Ink Manufacturing, which makes it easy for users to create, edit and transfer messages for the company’s line of CoPilot hi-resolution and Jetline large-character inkjet printers.

With easy design and operation at its core, the kit comes with a 10.1-inch touchscreen tablet and holder stand, stylus, USB-to-Ethernet adapter, 3-foot Ethernet cable and an Orion software operator license.

The Orion graphical software resides at the print station, rather than at the printer(s). Messages are created at the central location and sent to printers one of three ways: a USB memory device; an Ethernet connection or wirelessly. Both dot matrix and piezo coding systems can be programmed from the same print station.

Joshua Nelson, marketing services manager, tells us more about the new product, which will be on display at Pack Expo 2016 (Nov. 6-9; Chicago) in the Squid Ink Manufacturing Booth S-3574.


Can this kit be retrofit onto existing systems?

Nelson: Yes, the Orion Tablet can be added to an existing Squid Ink printing system that is running Orion software. Our current printers that use Orion software are the CoPilot hi-resolution family of printers—CoPilot, CoPilot 128, CoPilot 256, CoPilot 382—and the Jetline large-character printer.


What is the benefit of the Orion software being print-station-based rather than printer oriented?

Nelson: Rather than having to edit and program messages from each individual printer, Orion allows the user to assign printers to print stations similar to their production lines and control a virtually unlimited amount of printers from a single physical location.


What if the different coders are printing different messages? Does the software allow for that?

Nelson: That is a great benefit of print stations. The print stations allow each printer in the print station to print their own message. The print station also allows users to create both hi-resolution and large-character messages from a single location.


When was the Orion software introduced?

Nelson: Orion software was initially released with the CoPilot printer in 2014. The Orion wireless tablet kit with Operator Mode will be released at Pack Expo in November. When a printer is in Operator Mode, the user is locked out of most program functions except selecting message files, transferring them to the printer and some settings functions called the “Operator Mode.” This prevents unauthorized personnel from editing message information in error or creating undesirable messages. Supervisors can then log into the full message creation software and create or edit messages directly on the tablet if they wish.


Why is a touchscreen tablet an improvement on the typical touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface) on a printer?

Nelson: The 10.1-inch tablet is an improvement on typical touchscreen HMI’s because it allows users the ability to design and edit messages using a larger touchscreen than what is commonly offered on a printer HMI. The wireless tablet provides the user flexibility to create and edit messages remotely away from the production line. In addition, one tablet can be used to control all applicable Squid Ink printers in their facility.


How can you connect a virtually unlimited number of Orion-based printing systems via Ethernet and control them through one central Orion print station?

Nelson: The Orion software uses print stations to control virtually unlimited number of Orion-based printing systems. These print stations are the main point of contact for the printers; the surface and production location where printing will occur. Individual printers are added to a print station and then controlled from the main point of contact, or the print station.


The kit includes an Orion operator license. How long is this good for? And for how many printers?

Nelson: The Orion operator license is good for however long you own the equipment; it doesn’t expire. Orion software is available in three tiers:

Tier 1: Orion software with Operator Mode, one printer (FREE).

Tier 2: Unlimited printer license, per site.

Tier 3: Tier 2, plus Database Server software, per site.


How much does the unlimited printer license cost? Is that available for this tablet kit or only with PC software?

Nelson: The unlimited printer tier is $595 per site or production location. The unlimited license is available with the tablet kit.


Messages are transferred via Ethernet or wirelessly to the printer(s). What wireless technology are you using?

Nelson: Messages are transferred wirelessly to printers via WiFi connection. A micro USB WiFi adapter is added to the printer allowing for connectivity between a PC [personal computer] or tablet.


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