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Identification of Flexographic-printed Newspapers with NIR Spectral Imaging

Authors: Raimund Leitner, Susanne Rosskopf


Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a widely used method for material identification for laboratory and industrial applications. While standard spectrometers only allow measurements at one sampling point at a time, NIR Spectral Imaging techniques can measure, in real-time, both the size and shape of an object as well as identify the material the object is made of. The online classification and sorting of recovered paper with NIR Spectral Imaging (SI) is used with success in the paper recycling industry throughout Europe. Recently, the globalisation of the recycling material streams caused that water-based flexographic-printed newspapers mainly from UK and Italy appear also in central Europe. These flexo-printed newspapers are not sufficiently de-inkable with the standard de-inking process originally developed for offset-printed paper. This de-inking process removes the ink from recovered paper and is the fundamental processing step to produce high-quality paper from recovered paper. Thus, the flexo-printed newspapers are a growing problem for the recycling industry as they reduce the quality of the produced paper if their amount exceeds a certain limit within the recovered paper material. This paper presents the results of a research project for the development of an automated entry inspection system for recovered paper that was jointly conducted by CTR AG (Austria) and PTS Papiertechnische Stiftung (Germany). Within the project an NIR SI prototype for the identification of flexo-printed newspaper has been developed. The prototype can identify and sort out flexoprinted newspapers in real-time and achieves a detection accuracy for flexo-printed newspaper of over 95%. NIR SI, the technology the prototype is based on, allows the development of inspection systems for incoming goods in a paper production facility as well as industrial sorting systems for recovered paper in the recycling industry in the near future.

Keywords: spectral imaging, Imaging spectroscopy, NIR, real-time classification, waterbasedflexographic, flexo-printed, recovered paper

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