Accurate measurement for Braille dots and embossing tools

Troika Systems Limited, a UK company

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Troika Systems Limited
In the first week of March 2009, Troika Systems Limited, a UK company known for innovative development for print-based quality control products announced the release of BrailleCAM. The device based on Troika’s quality systems for measuring flexo plate dot profiles, is designed to accurately measure Braille dots used in communication applications for the visually challenged.
BrailleCAM is a hand held, portable camera specifically designed to measure and view Braille dots with precision and clarity. The camera utilises a PC link in order to show 3D images of a dot using colour representation, allowing the user to view dot form and inspect for surface cracking. The system also provides the tools necessary for highly detailed measurement and recording of dot values. BrailleCAM can measure male and female embossing tools as well as final output.

When measuring finished product, the auto-focus feature of the camera automatically finds the top surface. It then takes a series of images, each with a different focus depth, down to the ground level of the substrate. Software removes all un-sharp parts of each image and combines the levels into a rendered 3D grid model. This can be analysed via the PC and rotated in any direction.

The BrailleCAM project started following discussions with packaging equipment specialist Chesapeake Packaging Systems. Part of EU legislation already requires the incorporation of Braille information on all new drug packaging, and proposed directives will include detailed specifications for the height of the Braille dot.

“Measurement of Braille dot height is an important issue to producers of packaging for consumer products, and their customers,” said Andrew Degnan, Head of Packaging Systems at Chesapeake. “Our customers need to ensure that we, and other suppliers, are providing Braille images that comply with the directive. The current technology to measure Braille is limited – typically in the form of a micrometer. Naturally, such rudimentary technology has measurement limitations that require a large number of samples to provide the confidence levels required. BrailleCAM, based on Troika’s technology for measuring the dot on a flexographic plate, is a far more sophisticated tool. It is both precise and consistent, and provides an array of further information to fine tune the Braille process. At last we have a technique that gives the appropriate level of confidence, and as a result will minimise inspection time.”

Following the first public showing of BrailleCAM on the Chesapeake Packaging Systems stand at the recent Packtech exhibition at the NEC, Andrew Degnan added: “BrailleCAM provides clear 3D images of the Braille dot and tooling. It provides the dot height, profile plot, alignment, symmetry and diameter. Meeting the proposed EU directives on Braille height just became a scientific process.”

The exhibition offered pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to see BrailleCAM in action, and the reception was very enthusiastic, with major players already showing considerable interest.

Phil Hall, Managing Director of Troika Systems, added: “Following our initial discussions with Chesapeake, we could clearly understand the need in the market, and were easily able to see how our existing technology could be adapted to provide pharmaceutical packaging specialists with the detailed information that they needed regarding the Braille dot. Compared to a 1% dot on a flexo plate, these dots are large!

“The product is already generating significant interest among the pharmaceutical companies themselves, as well as the packaging producers. The pharmaceutical sector is the first and obvious outlet for BrailleCAM due to the demand for standards and accuracy within the industry. However, with the ability to measure the embossing tools prior to long run production, we are also looking at opportunities in a wide variety of other markets where a similar profile inspection and measurement technology will offer an advantage.”