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Autotype International invests in a Parkland SM150 slitter rewinder

With its development of new markets in the electronics industry, Autotype International needed slitting and rewinding equipment that would not damage or mark the materials’ surface. It chose Parkland International to provide it.

A coater and converter of paper and film for more than 130 years, Autotype has operations in the USA, Singapore and the UK, and has, until the last 10 years, been mainly associated with products for the printing and graphic arts industries. The development of products for the electronics industry has involved major investment in equipment and manu- facturing facilities in Britain.

They included films for touchscreens, LCD displays and control panels, which require clean room conditions for manufacturing. A coating line, installed three years ago, was followed by a dedicated converting facility, both within purpose built clean rooms. Materials used include polyester (50 to 250 micron thick) and polycarbonate (175 -750 micron thick) films.

“Designing a machine that will not mark the film surface isn’t easy,” says Mick Denny, the manager at Autotype’s Wantage plant with responsibility for converting. “The only real proof of success is in the finished product.”

Overhead path

From a short list of three, the company decided in favour of the SM150 Series II slitter rewinder proposed by Parkland. The basic machine, which slits from 50-150mm, could be customized to meet the specific needs of the working environment and the end product without compro- mising performance or build quality.

An overhead web path was considered essential. Autotype stipulated that material should not pass under the inspection platform. “Some machine suppliers may claim that there’s no risk of contamination, but we can’t take any chances,” says Mick Denny. “The overhead web path was the only option.”

Integral laminate

Adopting this also enabled the machinery builder to incorporate the integral laminator without extending the length of the machine. “For optimum quality we prefer to laminate at the coating stage,” explains Mick Denny. “However, certain products require two-sided lamination and here the best option from a quality point of view is to apply the second side on the slitter. It’s not something we use very often, but the Parkland machine provides this facility and produces excellent results.”

The inspection platform gives easy access to knives and for threading up. The knives are fully guarded when the machine is running and therefore access to the inspection area can be from the same platform without compromising safety. Health and Safety is an important issue for Autotype International. Parkland’s solution not only addressed the welfare of employees but also delivered some operational benefits.

Manual handling of slit reels has been eliminated. A fully motorized push-off mechanism on the machine transfers the reels to an adjacent floor mounted handling system. Spindles on the pivoting off-load unit are swung into alignment with the cantilevered rewind shafts. The rewind support door is opened and the slit reels pushed across by a screw driven plate that traverses the machine. The off-load system then pivots clear of the machine and the turret carrying the two spindles rotates through 90 degrees and lowers the reels onto a pallet for removal.

The system, which is able to handle two reels, each up to 200kg and 600mm diameter, enables Autotype to make more effective use of the workforce as anyone, with suitable training, can operate the machine.

“Within three days of delivery, the machine was up and running and after another two days of operator training it moved into full production,” adds Mick Denny. “During acceptance trials at Parkland’s Bury factory we took advantage of the opportunity to give a couple of operators advance training and this certainly helped us with a smooth start-up.”

The factory operates a two-shift system with the machine in use up to 16 hours/day. Set-up time for change-overs has been reduced by as much as a third, reports Parkland. This is particularly important as much of the work comprises relatively short runs. Cantilevered air differential rewind shafts offer faster and easier unloading and material handling systems at both unwind and rewind save time and effort.

Laser rewind core positioning and digital knife setting have helped to reduce set-up time along with a program storage facility in the pivoting rewind control panel. Clockwise and anti clockwise rewind drive rotation also offers the option to wind laminate face in or out as required without having to re-thread the machine.