Printer breaks world record with advanced servo, motion controller

Application Update: M&R Printing Equipment beats its own world record by 12% for speed printing using latest generation, advanced servo motor and stand-alone motion controller in its new machine design.


The development team raises its hand in victory after setting a new printing record for most T-shirts printed in 1 hour; Rich Omar, winning operator, is in front with the signed T-shirt. Mitsubishi Electric Automation MR-J4 Servo and Q170MCPU stand-aloneM&R Printing Equipment challenged itself to beat the world record for the most T-shirts printed by one operator in one hour, a benchmark the company set in 2010 at 1,909 shirts per hour with the M&R Challenger III press. M&R also set the previous record in 2005 with 1,805 shirts per hour on the M&R Formula press. To see if the new concept M&R Challenger III D J4 automatic textile press could accurately index faster than prior M&R presses, the company chose a very public venue, FESPA (Federation of European Screen Printing Associations), said to be the largest global event for the wide format print industry. The servo systems incorporated within the press would have to deliver improved performance with short settling time and be highly accurate despite the system’s inertia.

M&R, said to be the world’s largest manufacturer of screen printing equipment, has production facilities in Glen Ellyn, Ill., Niles, Ill., and Wojnicz, Poland. To beat the T-shirt printing speed record, M&R required that its new high-speed concept press provide fast index time, quick setting time, rapid closed-loop control, and extremely accurate positioning control. The complex application also required reliable motion control.

New demands, next generation

At the FESPA show, M&R Printing Equipment is on its way to breaking its own record for number of T-shirts printed in 1 hour, 2139, with help from advanced servo and controller technologies. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric AutomationA 20-year history of working with the same automation supplier that supplied a safety servo drive and motor used for the Challenger III press convinced M&R to upgrade the servo systems using the same manufacturer for the Challenger III D J4 press. To meet the new demands of the M&R concept press, the motion controller required built-in motion, logic control, and Ethernet network capabilities. Using a motion controller and PLC, motion control data is shared via the built-in EtherNet/IP (an ODVA Ethernet protocol) port. Designed to handle the most complicated high-speed applications, the controller includes built-in power supply, an external encoder interface, and high-speed registration inputs.

Tight cooperation continues between M&R Printing Equipment and its automation supplier. Maintaining product legacy “is important to our future development needs,” said M&R’s chief electrical engineer, Bo Biel, emphasizing the importance of sharing “the same vision for the development of our products.”

New record achieved

M&R Printing Equipment created a high-profile event at the FESPA industry trade show to try to break its prior world record. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric AutomationAt FESPA 2013, M&R set a new world record of 2139 T-shirts screen printed in one hour by a single operator, in front of a crowd of printing industry professionals. For the increase, more than 12% higher than the prior record, the operator used M&R’s high-performance Challenger III D J4 automatic screen printing press, M&R’s Passport automatic T-shirt unloader, and M&R’s Fusion electric conveyor dryer to achieve the feat. When asked about the significance of beating its own world record, Biel explains that setting the new benchmark requires testing new technologies for future product development, to improve performance and increase production output. He expects the automation company to continue “to support our development needs 5, 10, or 30 years from now,” Biel concluded.

Adaptive control, closed loop

The high-performance servo motor and stand-alone motion controller provided:

  • Motion control with built-in logic control
  • Industry-leading speed frequency response
  • Patented model adaptive control
  • High resolution feedback
  • Fully closed loop with external encoder
  • Benefits such as short settling time, robust disturbance compensation, fast response, as well as high positioning accuracy, speed, and precision

- Greg Hookings, marketing communication manager, Mitsubishi Electric Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering,


See related files, linked below for video, more photos, product details.

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