The mass production of printed electronics can be achieved by roll-to-roll (R2R) printing system, so highly accurate web tension is required that can minimize the register error and keep the thickness and roughness of printed devices in limits. The web tension of a R2R system is regulated by the use of integrated load cells and active dancer system for printed electronics applications using decentralized multi-input-single-output (MISO) regularized variable learning rate backpropagation artificial neural networks. The active dancer system is used before printing system to reduce disturbances in the web tension of process span. The classical PID control result in tension spikes with the change in roll diameter of winder and unwinder rolls. The presence of dancer in R2R system shows that improved web tension control in printing span and the web tension can be enhanced from 3.75 N to 4.75 N. The overshoot of system is less than ±2.5 N and steady state error is within ±1 N where load cells have a signal noise of ±0.7 N. The integration of load cells and active dancer with self-adapting neural network control provide a solution to the web tension control of multispan roll-to-roll system. © Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014.