, the Dutch distributor for Matrox Imaging, developed a custom step for communicating with the PLC. The ability to create custom steps is one of the features of the Matrox Design Assistant environment, enabling users to insert application-specific logic on their own. This step calls an .exe file that DVC made for communicating with the PLC. The timing of the communication between the Iris GT smart camera and PLC was critical. "It took a little while to get the camera and the PLC in sync but after a day of tweaking, the communication ran smoothly," says de Grood.
Several smart cameras were evaluated by De Grood for the printer’s vision system but Matrox said the application was possible and the Iris GT's price was less than other alternatives, explains de Grood.
It also offered the IP67 form factor de Grood wanted. "The IP67-rated housing was welcomed since this makes for easy integration in the system, without the need for additional protection against moisture," he says. "To keep the system as compact as possible, we wanted to have the camera and processing combined into one package." The printers also link back to the enterprise system, offering the possibility of full remote assistance worldwide.
A Future Beyond Food
De Grood emphasizes that the FoodJet printer can be used by industries other than food processing. “Every production method that applies thick, highly viscous fluids is a potential market. Some non-food examples are decorating ceramic tiles, applying complex glue patterns to printed circuit boards, ICs, flat screen components, etc. or printing a company logo on cosmetic creams to show consumers that they have purchased a real product and not a cheap counterfeit. The possibilities are endless.”
De Grood Innovations BV FoodJet printer was nominated for a 2009 Food Valley award. It is a prize awarded each year by Food Valley, a Dutch agro-food organization. The 2009 award was announced October 8, 2009.The FoodJet printer won second prize.
A condensed version of this article entitled Food Printer Adds Vision System to Handle Delicate Pastries appeared in the February 2010 issue of Control Design. Used with permission.