Matrix, also known as trim, is an unfortunate byproduct of the converting process. Its removal often results in press downtime and, when the matrix has to be rewound, web tension fluxuations. Today’s systems have been designed to remove this industry-specific waste quickly and efficiently, while also offering cost-savings.
Here, several suppliers discuss the products they have available on the market.
Matrix removal systems from Precision AirConvey (PAC), Newark, DE, USA, automatically capture the matrix waste at the press or presses, cut it into manageable, little pieces and convey it to a compactor or baler while removing airborne dust particles. PAC has installed more than 100 automated label matrix removal systems worldwide.
When customizing a matrix removal system, PAC’s optional upgrades include: sound attenuation to control and reduce sound pressure levels at key system points; central oil mist systems to provide an efficient and fool-proof way to distribute oil evenly to each press; and an EcoPAC baler, which provides “bale in a bag” technology for easy transport and to keep the work environment clean.
CEO Tom Embley describes PAC’s systems and discusses how they work. “Automated PAC matrix removal systems create a powerful pneumatic conveying action that can be most easily understood by comparing it to a vacuum. An infeed placed at the press captures the label matrix waste as it is generated, then it is drawn through an inline cutter, which cuts the matrix waste into little pieces. Next, it is drawn through hidden or overhead ductwork towards a baler or compactor. As the matrix waste nears the end of its journey, it enters a separator that removes the air and momentum and allows the bits of matrix waste to drop gently into the baler, compactor, or other type of collection container. The air is then drawn into a PAC dust collector before returning the air to the environment,” Embley explains.
PAC’s systems do away with manual rewinding entirely, thus eliminating the requisite line downtime while increasing uptime for production and promoting maximum press speed. “Manual rewinding equipment typically requires an extra inch of material width. By eliminating the need for rewinding, PAC systems permit instant savings in labelstock by permitting the use of labelstock with reduced widths,” Embley says, adding, “At Diversified Labeling Solutions in Itasca, IL, for example, this advantage alone returned upwards of $500,000 in raw material savings – annually.”
In addition to cost, savings in labor and improved cleanliness are other advantages to using PAC’s systems. “PAC systems require virtually no human involvement and may enable staff to be reassigned from hauling and dumping cartloads of matrix waste to other tasks. Also, PAC systems prevent dust from the matrix waste from entering the plant environment. This results in improved indoor air quality and promotes OSHA compliance while maintaining a cleaner, less cluttered work environment,” Embley says.
PAC takes into account the label converter’s needs when designing its systems. The company uses a proprietary non-stick coating that enables sticky waste materials such as that from PSA to glide through the system.
Available dust collectors were unable to meet the high performance demands required by the converting and label industries, so, with that in mind, PAC’s dust collector line was designed to accommodate the specific needs of its trim and matrix waste removal systems.
Embley points out some of systems’ features that promote an efficient work environment. “PAC designs its systems with a range of optional sound attenuation devices. This promotes a quiet work environment and also aids in complying with OSHA regulations. Our systems are also designed for maximum energy efficiency, delivering the optimum pneumatic conveying power required with the least horsepower fan and least energy consumption possible,” he says.
Keene Technology, Inc. (KTI)
In addition to automatic splicing and turret rewinding equipment for the both ends of a press, South Beloit, IL-based KTI offers a matrix turret rewind as the final component necessary to achieve non-stop diecut label production on presses. Matrix Rewinders from KTI offer continuous and cost effective removal of the matrix material.
Mounted on top of the press, the KTI matrix rewinder has a two-spindle turret design which allows removal of rewound matrix material without stopping the press line.
The “winding” spindle winds the matrix into a compact roll. At the appropriate time, the machine will speed-match the surface speed of the new core to the web speed. The cut-off knife then simultaneously severs the matrix from the full roll and attaches it to the new core. The previously wound roll is then removed by the operator and a new core is placed on the shaft. Tape or glue is not typically required since the adhesive on the matrix provides adequate adhesion to the core.
According to the company, this system eliminates excessive noise, loss of climate controlled air, jam-ups and oiling associated with vacuum chutes and compactors.
“Solid construction, compact design, and affordability are the qualities that earn the MT series Matrix Rewind its reputation for helping label houses achieve full press automation,” the company says. “And, like all KTI equipment, the MT series Matrix Turret Rewinder comes with the KTI promise to build affordable, easy-to-maintain equipment backed by the full support of the people at KTI.”
Combined with a KTI butt splicer and turret rewinder, the MT series Matrix Rewnder completes a package which the company says can eliminate the need to stop the press for roll changes.
AirTrim Inc., of Springfield, OH, USA supplies converters with trim and matrix waste systems designed for their specific material type, machine speed, matrix/trim width, and collection point. Included are venturi and chopper system types. Each system type offers a range of options; from a beside-the-press model, to a plant-wide central system handling multiple presses.
Venturi systems allow the material to pneumatically flow through the system in a rope-like form to the collection point. Chopper systems cut the material into smaller pieces to pass through the material handling fan to the collection point.
Each type of system has optional coating products to prevent adhesive matrix/trim from sticking and clogging the conveying line. One option is Teflon coating material contact points within the conveying lines. Another option is to use a lubricant introduced into the conveying line; AirTrim strongly recommends and has extensive experience using a food-grade silicone lubricant versus oil. The lubricant is introduced, intermittently during the production shift, near the matrix/trim intake point and is carried, thus, coating, through the pneumatic conveying duct. In addition, in chopper system types, the lubricant is introduced to the system through the rotating blades of the coated chopper, eliminating plugging.
Benefits of automating the matrix/trim removal process include the elimination of press stoppages for waste roll changes; no manual lifting of spools or material loss from press re-registering; the ability to use narrower raw roll stock; increased press speed (no longer limited to windup speeds); the elimination of fiber core costs; the ability to diecut intricate labels without matrix breakage; and increased label production capacity.
These benefits translate to continued cost savings that the company says easily justifies the initial cost of a system.
To demonstrate that premise, AirTrim offers a rental unit (either a venturi type or chopper type) for potential customers to use on their machine. According to the company, this has been a very successful endeavor as most of the rental units do not come back; they are bought.
AirTrim recently introduced a complete chopper line of products to their system component offerings. As the US distributor for Lundberg of Denmark choppers, AirTrim says it is able to provide customers with the most unique, quietest, lower maintenance choppers on the market. The choppers have from three to 12 rotating blades in a cast-iron housing with an extremely low measureable sound level. It is rare to have to sharpen the blades more than once a year or longer, the company says.
According to AirTrim, now featured in the all-in-one, self-contained portable conveying system, these choppers have proven themselves to AirTrim’s customers preferring chopper-type systems.
Press Performance Products
The PPP Matrix Removal System from York, PA-based Press Performance Products consists of a blower providing air pressure which is diverted by an aspirator (venturi) to create a powerful suction on the intake side and a strong air flow on exhaust side. The aspirator is mounted on the matrix rewind shaft of the press and the blower sits behind the press. An exhaust hose transports the matrix away from the press area and lengths of standard PVC pipe can be added to convey the matrix 100’ or more depending upon blower size. Each system has its own conveying pipe, but multiple systems can be run to a common collecting area, baler or compactor.
According to the company, on a per-press basis, the cost of a PPP Matrix System is one-third that of most central matrix systems. In addition, the systems can easily be installed by in-house maintenance personnel saving the cost of mechanical installers. Also, since each press will have its own matrix system, the customer buys only what is needed, when it is needed. By contrast, central cutter/fan systems cannot be expanded so the buyer must anticipate future needs and pay for any extra capacity up front. Individual systems also allow the user to confirm with one press what his automation savings will actually be before committing to more splicers, rewinders and matrix systems.
All central matrix systems use plasma-coated or similar cutters, one cutter for each press. In addition to the expense of the cutter, the cutting process creates pieces of matrix along with dust. Because of cutting, all central systems require an air/material separator as well as a filtration system to filter out dust before returning it to the building. PPP says thay besides the considerable cost and space required for these two components, blades will need sharpening, separator screens will need cleaning and filter cartridges will need to be replaced. None of this maintenance is required for PPP systems.
PPP Matrix Removal Systems do not use cutters. Upon entering the aspirator, the matrix collapses onto itself forming a “rope” of matrix material which is then pulled through the pipe with the high-speed air stream. No cutting, no dust, no need for separators or air filtration. In addition, when the matrix collapses onto itself, much of the exposed adhesive is eliminated because the matrix strands simply stick to each other. The rope of matrix is only mildly tacky as it exits the pipe. A few drops of oil/minute are added during operation just to keep a slick coating in the pipe in case the operator shuts off the system before allowing the rope of matrix to clear the pipe.
The PPP individual press approach means users turn on the systems for presses which are actually in use. If a press is not running, the matrix system is simply shut off, saving power and oil. With a central cutter/fan system, however, the entire system is either on or off. Even though just a few presses are running, the entire system is always using full power. Moreover, if a PPP system has a functional problem, only one press is affected, but when a central cutter/fan system has a problem, matrix removal is lost for all presses.
With PPP’s individual systems, the company says, separation of recyclable and non-recyclable material is simple. Just collect each type in separate containers. With central systems, material from all presses ends up in the same large pipe so that no separation for recycling is possible.
While central cutter/fan systems can be a practical, economical and desirable way to handle large numbers of presses, the company says, “they are simply too expensive for many smaller companies.
“We believe the PPP Matrix Removal System, with its far lower initial cost, self-installed design plus lower operating and maintenance costs provides an affordable way for these companies to enjoy the substantial benefits of non-stop press operation.”
Converter Accessory Corporation
Converter Accessory Corporation (CAC), Wind Gap, PA, USA, offers matrix removal systems among the variety of products the company manufactures for narrow to wide web industries.
Jeff Damour, CAC’s sales manager, discusses the company’s matrix removal products and the options customers have when selecting an appropriate system. “We manufacture pneumatic matrix removal systems with PTFE (Teflon) lining. The PTFE lining ensures pressure sensitive adhesive will not stick to any components within our system. Although our system does not require the matrix to be chopped, we have optional choppers available for customers who prefer their waste be in pieces rather than one continuous length. Choppers are plasma coated where pressure sensitive adhesives are present.”
For its label customers, CAC specifically offers the Fox TrimAway, a system that Damour says is appealing due to its quiet, efficient blower and venturi design. “With the way the Fox TrimAway is designed, the blower supplies pressure to the venturi and the venturi creates suction and conveys matrix either to the side of the machine or long distances, depending on the customer’s application,” he says. CAC’s Fox TrimAway matrix removal system is a “dry” system, and contributes to a cleaner work environment. “Our system does not require oil or powders to neutralize exposed adhesive,” Damour says. “There is no mess associated with blowing these materials around a label plant, because we do not use them.”
CAC offers one to 15 horsepower blowers and four venturi sizes from which to choose. This ensures the system will be properly sized for the application.
“Fox TrimAway systems are highly efficient, providing power-savings in the long run. We also have complete, turnkey, portable systems available called Fox Runner. Installation is a snap. We supply all mounting components, and the matrix path through the machine does not change. CAC has been manufacturing Fox TrimAway matrix removal systems for over 25 years, and we understand the requirements of each, individual application,” Damour says.