Intelligent alpine skis with an intelligent ink jet markin
Precise coding with ink jet printer
HEAD Sport AG produces alpine skis in Kennelbach/Austria to strict technological and design specifications. Using the Koenig & Bauer Coding ink-jet printer alphaJET C, HEAD marks the lateral edges of the skis denoting the exact position for bindings to optimize skiing pleasure.
Howard Head developed the first laminated metal ski more than three years before the foundation of his company of the same name in 1950. Consistent development and rigorous research paved the way for state-of-the-art materials, designs and components for the alpine fun sport. For technology-enthusiast skiers, terms such as intelligent chip technology or Liquidmetal, stand for the best quality, very smooth running, long drive and short turns. Sports equipment undergo rigorous testing and development by Head in their own development and racing division.
Ski bindings will no longer be fitted at the point of production. Without the bindings, skis can be safely and securely packed for delivery. The skis avoid being scratched and the buyer gets to decide which ski binding best suits at a specialist trade store. HEAD experts leave nothing to chance: The optimal positioning of the ski binding is indicated on the ski. The specialist dealer talks about the "boot center", i.e. the middle of the ski boot.
Aesthetics and quality go hand-in-hand
With a move away from a technology-focused image, to the new positioning as a lifestyle brand, the requirement for intelligent and flexible binding position marking has arisen. “We don't want to compromise the attractive upper and underside design on our ski series with unsightly binding markings” cites Alexander Baldauf, Process Engineer at HEAD SPORT AG. "Since we cannot do without the marking, we had only the ski’s lateral edge left to consider. The advantage is clear: the ski’s lateral edge plays a minimal role is its visual appearance, but offers suitable positioning for binding information."
Two individual skis become a pair
The alphaJET C can print up to 6 lines with 48 pixels and script can be turned through 90° during printing. Head AG uses this functionality for the precise coding of the “boot center”, required for optimal fun and safety on the piste. Numbers and signs are marked in grey, quick-drying ink on the insides of the skis and dry without delay, so as the ski goes on into further wax treatments and is packed, the precision ski markings are not smudged or blurred.
Grey ink was chosen as it stands out on broad spectrum of base ski colors. This leaves the field open for ski designers to use a wide range of colorful and creative designs on their skis. Grey script is readable on yellow, red, green backgrounds, removing the need for ink color changeovers. This reduces downtime and ultimately saves money.
Precise coding with quick-drying ink
The annual output of approximately 480,000 ski pairs cannot be achieved without reliable production machinery. The industrial ink jet printer alphaJET C from Koenig & Bauer Coding has an excellent reputation built up over the years, in demanding key markets including proven results in the electronic components and automotive industries. The ink jet’s ability to perform well at high speed has been well proven as this unit is widely used throughout the cable manufacturing sector. Alexander Baldauf adds: "We have decided in favor of the Koenig & Bauer Coding alphaJET C because it brings the necessary efficiency and compatibility with our existing machinery. The ink jet printer could be linked into our software and receives its orders and coding data via our Mainframe. The excellent print results have also convinced us totally."
After fabrication in the modern, well-equipped production facilities, the skis are then transported via a paternoster to the fully automatic, fence-protected machining centre. At this point the alphaJET C print head initially prints forwards along the first ski edge, then on the return sweep prints the second ski, coding it with identical data, consisting of serial number, ski length and the marking of the middle of the ski boot. In the next step, skis are waxed, impregnated and packed.