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Digital Braille by PackEx
16 July 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes

PackEx Innovation: Digital Braille

Braille was developed in 1825 by the Frenchman Louis Braille and enables blind or severely visually impaired people to read texts with the help of their fingertips. For this purpose, six dots in 3×2 lines are punched into paper or other material - this results in 64 possible combinations with which the entire alphabet as well as numbers and punctuation marks can be depicted. Braille is used in everyday life on traffic lights, signs or in lifts, among other things, and helps visually impaired people overcome everyday barriers.

Braille for folding boxes

In the field of folding boxes, Braille plays an important role, especially for medicines, because visually impaired people must also be able to distinguish between medicines. Otherwise, there is a risk of poisoning or overdosing. Since 2006, it has therefore been compulsory for manufacturers of medicines to use Braille on their packaging.

Conventionally, the Braille is inserted into the material using a punch. For this purpose, an extra tool has to be made which presses the dots into the printed sheet from below. This "displaces" the material and the desired braille dots are formed on the surface. In addition to the production of an extra punch, this process also requires a specially adapted set-up of the machine for the respective print job - a cost and above all time factor that should not be underestimated.

A step towards the digital future

All this is diametrically opposed to PackEx's business model, which is based on digitalisation and automation. So it was decided to take a special step: the introduction of Digital Braille. In a unique process for the folding carton industry, Braille is applied additively to the material with the help of a special UV varnish. This has several advantages: in addition to the great time savings, the almost perfect quality stands out above all.

Whereas with the conventional method there is a risk of the braille dots bursting due to material displacement, with the additive method the dots can be perfectly shaped and applied at the optimum height without damaging the substrate. The high precision also means that the braille can be applied closer to corners and edges, giving greater scope when designing the packaging. The separate production and use of a die-cutter is therefore completely unnecessary with this process.

Complex technology for maximum results

For the Digital Braille, PackEx has chosen a globally unique combination of different machines. Based on a Kohmann transport machine, four additional components are used - including three print heads for applying the UV varnish, an LED drying system and a high-precision Braille measuring machine, which is only available from PackEx in this form. The proven video-based quality assurance (VQA) is also used here.

The set-up and coordination of the complex construction was coordinated by PackEx boss Julian Erhard - a lengthy and time-consuming undertaking.

The Digital Braille process is made possible by a complex, worldwide unique combination of different machines

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