We have often talked about Creadigit Infinity, the revolutionary digital printing system developed by System Ceramics which marks the beginning of a new era for digital decoration in the ceramics industry. One of the fundamental features characterizing this technology is its formidable computing power, provided by new electronics of which CoreXpress is the beating heart.
But what is CoreXpress? How can it process such a large amount of data in real time? How has it been possible to achieve such a high performance? We asked this question and many others to Luca Turrini, Hardware Engineer Manager of System Electronics who led the CoreXpress project together with his team.
What is CoreXpress? What are the features that make it so special?
CoreXpress is the latest-generation embedded PC designed and produced in System Electronics. It’s a platform furnished with an extremely high computing power thanks to various factors that our team has taken into consideration right from the start of the project. This includes the components that we selected for the design phase and, in particular, the 9th-generation CPU i7, which represents the state of the art in the industrial PC field.
In the design phase, moreover, we focused on the analysis of performance data gathered with previous technologies, which was essential for managing to achieve such a high level of performance. At this point we obtained a result that at first seemed incredible: CoreXpress is, in fact, able to function at the top of its computing capacity for 24 hours running and without ever suffering a drop in performance; it can do this also in conditions of high temperature (40/45°) which we usually find inside industrial machines that work non-stop.
Another characteristic is the opportunity of working at full bandwidth: CoreXpress is furnished, in fact, with a significant data transmission capacity as it utilizes all the communication ports at 100% of their capacity and without ever reducing the fluidity of the operations carried out. This last feature is fundamental.
How did the CoreXpress project come into being? What was required in terms of time and resources to reach such a high level?
The project arose out of System Ceramics’ R&D Decoration team’s need to be able to have a platform on Creadigit Infinity able to process a very high volume of data. But not only. It was necessary for the transmission of these data to be in real time, in order to guarantee a practically perfect result on the ceramic surface.
Basically, it’s necessary to have a machine that always functions at maximum possible speeds, which processes data accurately and without margins of error in the printing.
To achieve this result, we cooperated for about a year and a half with our R&D colleagues who were working on Creadigit Infinity, exchanging information and ideas on a daily basis. It was an excellent example of synergy, which we at System Electronics knew we could count on.
Let’s talk about the team that worked on CoreXpress. How many and what specialist professionals were involved in the development of the project?
We utilized all the specialized professionals that normally work inside System Electronics. A team of Informatic Engineers, specialists in Firmware, Ethercat and operating systems were involved in the development and fine-tuning phase of the project, as well as a team of Electronic Engineers specialized in PCB Design and hardware design.
It was an engrossing and complex adventure which could only be successfully completed with the coordination of high-level professionals. In addition, the possibility of managing the entire process, from design to production, entirely in System Electronics was a considerable advantage. It will continue to be an important enterprise, also for the future.
System Electronics works on the development of many other products for industrial electronics, following the entire process from preliminary study to production and finally to testing. How many and what types of tests have to be carried out before definitive completion so that a product like CoreXpress can be considered as effective and reliable?
Like all System Electronics products, CoreXpress was also subjected to a series of pre- and post-production tests that confirmed effectiveness and reliability, also in extreme conditions.
In the design phase most of the work was dedicated to making sure that every single component worked according to specific expectations and that, with the architecture designed by our specialists, the CPU was able to work at full-rate also at high temperatures. The tests in the anechoic chamber, moreover, allowed us to raise the quality standard of the product and in the industrial electronic field this is a fundamental step that few can guarantee.
Having passed this first phase, numerous tests were then carried out in the production cycle to check that all the parts of which CoreXpress is composed function correctly: through functional tests we ascertain that the device is able to perform all the required activities at the same time; the mobile in-circuit probes verify that every single component works correctly as per the design; the stress tests inside the climatic chambers allow us, instead, to confirm that the product can work at temperatures above 40°;
It’s a 100% tested product: this means that every single CoreXpress produced by us is subjected to the above-described checks.
CoreXpress is one of the elements that has taken digital decoration with Creadigit Infinity to a level never seen before. Can you explain to us the role that CoreXpress plays inside the Creadigit Infinity family and why it’s so crucial?
CoreXpress has enabled a significant leap forward in electronics for the digital decoration of ceramics, not only in technological terms, but also regarding print quality. The reasons are various; I’ll mention just a couple.
What we mainly focused on was efficiency and speed in the transmission of data: we basically managed to reduce the times for communication between the CPU, which contains the image to be printed, and the head that physically prints the graphics. This is a fundamental advantage. The data are transmitted in real time, and this guarantees a perfect synchronization between the printing speed and data transmission. Everything is more fluid, more precise and faster with regards to both the computation of the graphics to be printed and to the execution of the print.
Another crucial aspect is the implementation of Creavision: the computing power that CoreXpress is able to provide to Infinity means that the operations on the graphics performed by Creavision(such as rotation, roto-translation, centering the graphics on the substrate) before the tile enters the machine, occurs more rapidly, without slowdowns.
To be clearer, CoreXpress is so powerful that it can perform different actions simultaneously and on a number of different components of the machine, without sacrificing speed and printing precision. One single Infinity has a CoreXpress for each bar, plus one for coordination: this guarantees the creation of a ceramic product which is practically perfect and without limits.
Can we say that CoreXpress is synonymous with future development? In other words: those who make use of a technology such as Infinity, thanks to CoreXpress, can be guaranteed future developments that improve the performance of this technology even further?
That’s exactly right. Infinity has electronics that leaves much scope for future developments. CoreXpress is, at the current state of things, a platform on which it is possible to intervene to make upgrades or to implement of new features without taking action structurally on the machine.
In addition, given the rapidity with which the electronic world is evolving, we have, in any case, designed CoreXpress so as to be able to incorporate future evolutions on 10th-generation CPUs, with even higher levels of performance.
Find out more about Creadigit Infinity, visit the web page.