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In-Line Monitoring of the Thickness of Printed Layers by Near-Infrared (NIR) Spectroscopy at a Printing Press

Volume 66, Number 7 (July 2012) Page 765-772


In this work, it is demonstrated that the coating weight of printed layers can be determined in-line in a running printing press by near-infrared (NIR) reflection spectroscopy assisted by chemometric methods. Three different unpigmented lacquer systems, i.e., a conventional oil-based printing lacquer, an ultraviolet (UV)-curable formulation, and a water-based dispersion varnish, were printed on paper with coating weights between about 0.5 and 7 g m−2. NIR spectra for calibration were recorded with a special metal reflector simulating the mounting conditions of the probe head at the printing press. Calibration models were developed on the basis of the partial least squares (PLS) algorithm and evaluated by independent test samples. The prediction performance of the developed models was examined at a sheet-fed offset printing press at line speeds between 90 and 180 m min−1. Results show an excellent correlation of data predicted in-line from the NIR spectra with reference values obtained off-line by gravimetry. The prediction errors were found to be ≤ 0.2 g m−2, which confirms the suitability of the developed spectroscopic method for process control in technical printing processes.

Index Headings: Near-infrared spectroscopy; NIR reflection spectroscopy; Partial least squares regression; PLS; In-line measurements; Process control; Printed layers; Printing varnishes.