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Flexibility finds favour

Combination lamination and new vacuum coaters feature strongly in new technology

Combination solvent and solventless laminators are proving popular in the far eastern and South American markets especially for those customers doing business with the multinationals, according to Gérade Lansade sales director of DCM. “In China and Indonesia, for example, people found solvent based lamination much easier to handle. Solventless means the need for special adhesives where supply is not easy, and more skill is required. But these customers realise they will need solventless in the future. That’s why they want the combination machines.”

“In addition, this equipment can be used to print coldseal.” That is a useful add-on for the flexo converter where there is a big demand for coldseal. His company has been marketing its Laminastar Combi for the last year. Typical running speeds are 200m/min for solvent based lamination, 360m/min for solventless and 150m/min for coldseal. It is also capable of performing hotmelt in register, but needs a kit comprising trolley with heated tray, cooling cylinder and premelting tank.

Like the combination equipment from DCM, Comexi’s offering, the Nexus Dual also offers one colour rotogravure printing, lacquers and varnish, explains Joan Feliu.

Shaftless technologies, high performance dryers and quick plug systems are incorporated to enable high productivity without loss of reliability, says the company. The pressure cylinder is sleeved and is removed from the side without tools, and the locking/unlocking device works with pressured air. Maximum speed is 350m/min.

Latest development from Comexi is the Nexus One, designed for short to medium runs for solventless application for plastics films (BOPP, LDPE; LLDPE, Nylon, OPA, PETp and PP) and aluminium foil. Easy operation has been combined with an ability to handle a wide range of laminating jobs. The metering cylinder includes an “innovative floating system, which, by means of a touchscreen, allows the operator to set and modify the adhesive quality.” The shaftless system helps quick and easy change of the reel and it includes web guides with ultrasonic sensor detection, as well as electro-magnetic brakes for automatic tension control. Maximum speed is 300m/min.

Speaking during K last month, Paolo Benvenuto, head of coating and laminating at Bobst, announced that the company is to invest e2.5M in a new coating technology development centre at Rotomec, Italy. The line will include new winding technology and a flotation dryer with integrated ventilation, a web width of 1,600mm and speed of 1,500m/min. There will be provision for a non conventional second coating unit and dry bond lamination unit. “The line should be completed in 10 to 12 months,” he said.

  “Our vision is to be the technology leader in coating, perceived as the best and most innovative partner in the supply of solutions packages for the self adhesive labels and tapes business as well as a reliable partner, able to provide solutions to flexible packaging customers in the fields of extrusion coating and special lacquering.” On the laminating front he said: “We are a multi solutions supplier for any customer need. Our target is to more than double our current market share in compact machines by the end of 2007 (greater than 30 per cent).”

The CL 660 Unica, presented as a world première during drupa, and in demonstration at the open house held in Piacenza last September, is Schiavi’s new generation multipurpose coater laminator. Allowing users to work with multiprocess applications, enabling the converter to widen production capabilities with just one machine, it features interchangeable standard trolleys for gravure, semi flexo, flexo, PVdC, solventless and wax-hotmelt. By recalling the relevant program on the touchscreen display Siemens supervisory system, and by using the dedicated trolley, the machine can apply dry bond lamination, solventless lamination, PVdC coating, in-register one colour printing, in-register coldseal and wax-hot melt coating, says the company.

During the open house, the CL 660 Unica demonstrated solventless lamination, solvent based adhesive lamination and in-register coldseal coating.

The coating unit is housed in the mainframe upright, which also supports the primary unwinder. The laminating unit is housed in the second upright, which also supports the secondary unwinder and the rewinder. The standard version of the machine features a single laminating group positioned after the drying tunnel, a solution that allows it to perform both solvent based and solventless lamination. To optimize solventless lamination, a second laminating group can be positioned above the coating unit, whilst the addition of another unwinder allows for paper-aluminium foil wet lamination.

Mechanical speed is up to 450m/min; standard web width is 1,350mm and reel diameters 1,000 mm

It became apparent during drupa, reports Kroenert, celebrating its centenary this year, that there is still a remarkable degree of interest in gravure roll coating application using a closed doctor blade in the six o’clock position to the roll. The MPG 600 CI which Kroenert had on display is an example of multi pressure gravure technology with doctor blades which has been used in many different applications – more than 100 worldwide. On-going development has allowed the achievement of production speeds of 1,000m/min and a working width of more than three metres. Aqueous, solventless, solvent based and UV/ESH curable compounds have been successfully coated.

No change

Potential foaming of the coating is prevented by optimal flow conditions in the pressure chamber and custom made pumping and recirculating systems, explains the company. Changes in the application weight can be achieved without changing the gravure roll. For example, application of aqueous acrylate adhesive can be varied between 40 and 200 per cent without changing the gravure cell pattern, merely by altering the pressure of the chamber blade, it adds.

Causing plenty of interest on the stand at K, another Bobst company, General Vacuum Equipment (GVE), showed its new Holosec vacuum coater. Designed to meet the requirements of small batch sizes and high value production typical of the security hologram and small converter market, the equipment can be used in production, batch coating and R&D. The compact production unit has a footprint of 3x2m – minute compared with the large metallizers designed for the flexible packaging market. It sits directly on the floor without the need for a pit. Operating cost is low; there is a reduced noise level (no external pumps) and the machine can be installed in hours, said Andrew Jack, area sales manager, vacuum coating and metallizing.

The coater features the company’s own designed plasma pre-treater, which assists in the adhesion of the coatings. Metallizing can be pattern coated by using a flexo type operation of printing an oil mask to prevent the metal adhering and the company is currently working on an optional in-register control. Web width is 400mm and roll diameter 450mm. Asked whether the equipment could be used for producing RFID labels, Andy Jack said: “You need a thicker layer of copper to make an antennae and that’s a bit of an unknown at the moment, but we have looked at it with customers. There is certainly a lot of interest in the field at the moment.”

Versatility is important in this market so the equipment has been designed to handle an extensive range of materials including aluminium, copper, chrome and zinc sulphide, as well as an extensive range of substrates. “We can change the metal within one and a half hours,” claimed Jack. The retractable sources are unusually placed in that they come out on the door of the equipment. Running speeds are claimed to be up to 200m/min with aluminium (60m/min with copper).

The Holosec is priced at around $0.5M for the basic machine in comparison with $1.5M for the large K 5000 metallizer. Jack reports two orders for the machine, one in North America and the other from South East Asia.

Development versatility

A new vacuum web coater, the Smartweb, is designed to eliminate the costly transition from development of new products to production and to allow faster turnover to higher volumes for converters. Launched at K by Applied Films, the clean room compatible coater will be available with three chambers or a duplex version with six chambers to be able to deposit six nano layers, for example. Smartweb incorporates sputter sources, evaporation sources for metals and for polymers, as well as PECVD equipment. The design enables any combination of these technologies in a single coating operation, claims the company.

Development products include flexible displays using organic light emitting devices (OLEDs) and super barrier layers for in-line encapsulation of moisture sensitive layers.

An interesting deposition tool developed by Applied is a rotatable magnetron for target utilization above 80 per cent. With the cylindrical target rotating around a stationary set of permanent magnets, a uniform erosion of the target tube results in a high utilization and thus a long lifetime of the target.

On the Multimet front – Applied´s high vacuum metallizer for film capacitor applications, the company announced that it was looking to use the oil mask technology it currently offers for pattern structures in equipment for the packaging materials sector.

Leybold Optics (LO) presented its PRO-M series of vacuum web coaters during K. Designed for metallization of films and paper, they are said to offer reliability and easy handling, high throughput and good winding quality at low operational cost. With a coating speed of up to 840m/min the series is available for five web widths – 1,360, 1,700, 2,100, 2,300 and 2, 500mm. It features a high speed winding system.

The company has been particularly successful in China, selling 24 systems there over the last 12 months. It represents an increase of over 400 per cent in sales figures.

BOC Edwards has introduced an addition to its range of vacuum coating systems for thin film deposition processes. The TF600 combines a 600mm wide coating chamber with a high throughput, vacuum pumping system and is designed to deliver increased productivity and flexibility for those responsible for the research, development and production of substrates used in the semiconductor, laser and scientific industries.

More flexible

The TF600 has several new design features such as the placement of the high vacuum pumping system at the rear of the chamber, to provide faster pumpdown. Pumping system options include diffusion, turbomolecular, and cryogenic high vacuum pumps, and the XDS 35i ‘dry’ scroll pump for backing and chamber roughing. Process options include resistance evaporation, electron beam, RF, DC and pulsed DC sputtering. With a variety of chamber heights, loadlock options and multiple source configurations, the TF600 allows users to address a wide range of applications and specialist techniques, such as lift off and ion beam processing.

CEO Pietro Profumo has led an MBO of Galileo Vacuum Systems, from the Fata Group, the former majority shareholder. Fata still maintains a minority position in the Prato, Italian based company.

The development was motivated by the diverging strategic focus of the two companies, with Fata moving away from its traditional industrial base in aluminium, and Galileo’s growing markets in flexible packaging requiring a more decisive and specific strategy.

“Galileo Vacuum Systems’ future looks bright,” commented Dr Profumo. “2004 will be our record year in terms of new contracts for our roll to roll metallizer and slitter rewinder product lines.”

Wheatley opts for combined laminator

Wheatley Packaging has installed in-house lamination with the commissioning of a Nordmeccanica Super Combi 2000 laminator. Initially supplied for solventless lamination, the Scunthorpe, UK based converter chose the unit because of its flexibility to handle other processes such as water and solvent based lamination, as well as PVdC, coldseal and other coatings in the future.

The 1,300mm wide equipment is claimed to be capable of speeds up to 350m/min and can handle reel diameters of 1,000mm on its vectorial motor driven shaftless unwinds and rewind. With reel changes taking around one minute, downtime is kept to the minimum, providing potential for high output.

In order to speed up job changes, the touchscreen controlled Supervision system memorizes previous job set-ups to reduce operator workload and allow repeatable results, it is claimed.

Andrew Riley, Wheatley Packaging’s managing director, said: “This installation is the final phase of a 12 month £2.5M capital investment programme, which is the largest annual investment undertaken by the company in its 25-year history. The entire expansion underlines the commitment of the Frantschach Group to Wheatley Packaging and our drive to move into higher value product sectors.”

Also part of Nordmeccanica’s supply is its new World Mixer two-part adhesive pumping system, which is said to maintain the adhesive temperature and, by using gear pumps automatically, delivers to the coating station at a controlled level and in the required ratio. Sensors warn if the ratio is outside the set tolerance. The mixer is itself automatically refilled direct from the adhesive supplier’s drums.



Contacts

Applied Films
Tel: +49 (0)6023 92 65 65
BOC Edwards
Tel: +44 (0) 1293 528844
Comexi
Tel: +34 972 477 744
DCM
Tel: +33 (0) 1 41 3752 70
Engelmann & Buckham
Tel: +44 (0) 1420 82421
Galileo
Tel: +39 0574 564311
General Vacuum Equipment (Bobst)
Tel: +44 (0)1706 622772
Kroenert
Tel: +49 40 853 93 01
Leybold Optics
Tel: +49 0 6023 500 190
Schiavi
Tel: +39 0523 493306
Wheatley Packaging
Tel: +44 (0)1724 280 388





External weblinks
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Applied Films
General Vacuum and Schiavi
BOC Edwards
Engelmann & Buckham
Comexi
DCM
Galileo
Kroenert
Leybold Optics
Wheatley Packaging