posted on January 07, 2013 12:24
Roy Cannon, product manager at contact cleaning equipment manufacturer Teknek, details how contact cleaning can help printers and converters deliver fault-free drinks packaging
Printers and converters must process materials that can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and that’s certainly true when it comes to processing the PU coated paper used in drinks packaging.
All drinks packaging is paperboard based and then plastic coated through an extrusion process, and frequently laminated with various materials and finishes designed to preserve the container’s contents.
Even as recently as a few years ago there was room in the market with its own defined class of buyer, for both the producer of value-added products that could command a higher price, and the no-frills operator.
However, we all now operate in a global marketplace, with all that entails. Fewer but larger international groups continue to erode the supplier base with more converters chasing fewer customers.
Competition is therefore now at its most intense – there is no longer room in the market for the producer of inferior products. The quality bar is constantly being raised as customers prescribe ever-tighter tolerances.
Where once a few defects or blemishes may have been acceptable, more and more customers are looking for zero defects. Therefore a supplier has to work even harder to prove they really do deserve the customer’s business and deliver a fault-free product.
One of the greatest barriers to achieving high quality is contamination. Dust and other organic material are present in the air and on the substrates. If this contamination lands on the packaging material before the extrusion process the surface of the pressure roller will be uneven causing bumps in the PU coating. This can potentially cause damage to the barrier properties of the coating.
During the printing process the dust will transfer from the web onto the printing plates. These particles will cause “hickeys” and will be picked up by the printer’s inspection system. The press then needs to be stopped and all the plates cleaned. Valuable press time is lost during this cleaning process – up to 20 minutes a time.
Packaging manufacturers have found one of the most effective solutions to be the installation of contact cleaning equipment on to their line, normally after a traditional brush and vacuum system.
Contact cleaning equipment was originally invented by Teknek for the electronics sector but is now widely deployed in a number of quality critical industries such as primary film production, printing, converting and packaging.
In contact cleaning a specially formulated elastomer roller runs in contact with the web gently lifting dry unattached particles down to one micron in size from the substrate. The particles are then transferred on to a unique reverse wound pre-sheeted adhesive roller where they are permanently trapped.
Once the roller becomes saturated the sheet is removed leaving a fresh sheet underneath.
This method is so effective because it makes direct contact with the web and cuts through the boundary layer to remove the debris from the web surface. It will remove the particles that traditional systems leave behind.
Packaging production equipment runs continuously at very high speeds (up to 350m/min) therefore it is essential that the contact cleaning equipment is “speed matched” so that it runs completely in tandem with the production line. Purging of the adhesive can be achieved without stopping the line.
In conclusion, contamination on drinks packaging material can pose a serious threat to the quality and appearance of the end product. However, the application of high performance contact cleaning can dramatically improve yields, reduce waste, increase press time and increase quality ultimately leading to greater profitability and happier customers.
Teknek is a global supplier of contact cleaning equipment for a number of sectors including PCB, SMT, converting, printing, decorative surfaces and medical packaging. The equipment helps manufacturers increase production yields and reduce wastage by removing contamination. Over 90 percent of Teknek’s equipment is exported.
Teknek is the only contact cleaning manufacturer to make its own rollers and adhesive rolls in-house. This ensures consistency, tractability and quality which are essential to anyone manufacturing food based items. In addition, Teknek is the first contact cleaning company to introduce oxydegradable and biodegradable adhesive rolls with its EcoFilm and EcoPaper ranges.