Braille is not new. However, the proliferation of braille on packaging has evolved significantly in recent years. A European directive for braille has been implemented in relation to braille on Packaging.
Indeed, there are suggestions that this directive will migrate out to food packaging and other packaged products in the not too distant future.
Braille is added at the carton manufacture stage – in Die-cutting or at Gluing (e.g. Accubraille)
At Truform Laser Dies, we have the capability in-house to produce punched braille strips for use on such gluing lines. However, as a die-maker, we are primarily involved in braille embossing and braille embossers as part of the die-cutting process.
Effectively, the same process as is used with blind embossing prevails. However, with differing specifications in use across the industry and specific customers (e.g. Marburg Medium spec, Non-Burst spec and Reduced Burst spec derivatives), some considerations, other than just embossing have to be managed and harnessed within the tooling we supply.
Until recent times there was little control of braille dot shapes and what was acceptable though various parts of the supply chain. Some processes did highlight weaknesses is dot shapes – particularly in relation to visual aesthetics of a finished carton while others seemed to forget the fundamental reason for braille – the tactile requirements of the visually impaired.
Of course we have moved on from this and our industry now tries to meet the expectation of all involved in the process.
At Truform we used to buy braille components for onward supply. However, it became clear in recent times, that manufacturing braille embossers (male and female) was something that we had to take in-house. A lot of research was carried out using our own facilities, talking with customers and carrying out extensive trials so that we were able to produce braille components within tolerance, on-time, cost-effectively and to specific customer needs and expectation. We have achieved this goal within the last 12 months and are now manufacturing all our own braille tooling in-house. All our customers are very satisfied with the braille components we manufacture from a cost perspective, for timely deliveries, for product performance on-press and in relation to the security aspects of our process with particular respect to the integrity of dot patterns.
There are many variants as to how braille components can best be used in a carton manufacturing plant in order to achieve best economic yield while simultaneously ensuring that there is no incorrect product mix. We have consulted with many customers in this and can offer braille forces with alternative mounting systems.
‘Free-fit’ braille is where adhesive-backed braille force is transferred to the plate directly from the female block. This can be done with the use of semi-solid lubricant (that will not contaminate the cartons) or little magnets. These forces can be machined from brass or punched in spring steel.
‘Fixed-fit’ or ‘click-fit’ adhesive-backed braille forces allow for the forces to be placed accurately in position into a pre-made counter with an exact aperture size that holds the force in the correct position. These too can be machined from brass or punched in spring steel.
‘Slide-in’ braille is not adhesive-backed and therefore easily allows for interchangeability of braille forces between different job lots – using the same die, counter profile and thin plate.
Forces can be located inside a counter, into pockets in our milled plates or into apertures in our milled plates. Some of these options require that the forces have magnetic backing. All of these options we can supply.
The shape of the dot on braille forces is often a specific requirement. While we have developed our own dot shape that customers are very happy with, some customers have specific needs and we endeavour to meet these needs.
The female block can be set-up in a few different ways. Most commonly, this block is approximately the same height as the creasing knives and therefore is flush with the back of the die. Other alternatives, where the block is surface mounted, are also available.
In terms of dot and text verification, there are alternative scanners in the marketplace that provide carton manufacturers with data around dot shape, text reading and so on. Here are a few links to alternative systems for dot checking: