Matrix Removal Systems

By Steve Katz | May 7, 2009

The label industry has its own exclusive waste product, and there's equipment available that's designed specifically for its efficient removal, resulting in labor and cost savings.

Label converting is a manufacturing process that incorporates specific materials, namely substrate, adhesive, ink, and coating. While these materials come together to form a pressure sensitive label, they also create a waste product that's specific to label printing – matrix, also known as trim. Matrix waste can be a burdensome byproduct of the converting process, yet there are products available designed specifically to assist label converters in having it removed efficiently.


An add-on air separator from Airtrim sized for 12 presses, with room to handle four more.
AirTrim Inc., Springfield, OH, USA, offers its patented Matrix Removal System as an alternative to airshaft-spooled matrix. This is an automated method of pneumatically conveying waste matrix and edge trim to a compactor, baler, or other receptacle.

The system eliminates lost ink and substrate, core costs, and press downtime to adjust or remove spooled matrix. Bill Titus, sales manager, says, "Customers report increased production, maximized press speeds, and improved label quality as a result of using the system. In addition, they are able to use smaller width roll stock as the system removes matrix as narrow as 1⁄16". Employees appreciate not having to lift the heavy spools of matrix."

The Matrix Removal System can be used on a single press or designed for a whole plant. "The beauty of our systems is their adaptability to our customers' requirements," says Andrew Bubp, technical manager. "We can design a 12 press system and install it in two press or four press phases as need or finances dictate."

"As additional equipment is purchased, plant floor plans change, or a new facility considered, the flexibility of the system allows it to adapt with minimal cost to the customer," adds Bob Simon, technical service.

"Responding to our customers and providing what they want drove the initiation of the Matrix Removal Rental Unit program," says President Robert Patton. He adds, "We can make claims in our sales literature, but to actually use the unit on your press with your material makes a substantial statement."

The rental units include all the components and hardware for a single press matrix removal system, an illustrated handbook, and step by step assembly instructions for the cost of freight and a nominal rental rate. Customers can evaluate production improvement and accurately calculate the potential ROI of a system. Nicki Valley, customer service manager, says, "Most rentals are for about a month but some never come back. They buy them."

AirTrim has informational bulletins about Matrix Removal Systems. Included are "(7) Reasons a Matrix Twister Removal Rental can save you money and make your job a little easier," "(9) Reasons Matrix Twister Removal Systems save you money and make your job a little easier," and "Pneumatic Matrix Removal vs. Spooled Matrix Removal Comparison Report." All bulletins are free and available by calling 888-247-8746.

Converter Accessory Corporation

Converter Accessory Corporation (CAC), Wind Gap, PA, USA, designs, engineers and manufactures web handling equipment for converters of paper, film, foil, nonwovens and textiles. Matrix removal systems are among the variety of products CAC manufactures, from narrow to wide web.

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."

A 3D image of CAC's Fox TrimAway
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.

Convair Tech

Convair Tech, Newark, NJ, USA, designs and builds trim removal systems engineered to solve converter's specific trim conveying needs. Popular products among the company's label customers include the eductor system, material handling blower with inline cutter, and the chopping blower. Options for pressure sensitive applications include Teflon coating, oil misting, an air separator for the discharge side, and silencing equipment.

"All of our systems are composed of at least one intake nozzle, a duct to convey the material, and some form of blower and discharge duct to convey the material to the receptacle," explains Phil Stulic, Convair Tech's owner.

"When the matrix can be transported and discharged in continuous form, we have an eductor system fitted with a fishtail nozzle. For pressure sensitive applications, it can be Teflon coated throughout. This is our simplest and most cost effective solution. The matrix is transported in continuous form and can be deposited in a box, compactor, baler, etc.," Stulic says.

For situations where customers need matrix to be chopped, Convair Tech offers an inline cutter coupled with a material handling blower. The inline cutter can be plasma coated for pressure sensitive applications and the duct can be Teflon coated. "If the matrix is paper, or in some cases, paper with a thin film, the best solution is a chopping blower," Stulic says, explaining that the chopping blower chops the trim and eliminates the need of an inline cutter, thus reducing maintenance and downtime.

Convair Tech has a variety of options that converters can choose from based on their specific needs. Stulic provides an example: "One blower can be connected to a manifold and a specifically sized duct to collect waste from more than one machine," he says.

"Air separation options for the discharge range from simple separators that diffuse the air to the room in which they sit, or more complex separators for film. We also offer enclosed separators that can redirect conveying air to a dust collector or another part of the plant. This last option can save the customer a lot of money on climate control."

"As long as the system has an empty box, compactor or baler to dump into, a properly sized pneumatic conveying system can run for a very long time. It eliminates the need to remove trim wound up on a roll. Advantages to simply dumping trim on the floor are innumerable, and labor savings are immediately realized," Stulic says.

CTM Systems Inc.

CTM Systems Inc., Nazareth, PA, USA, designs and manufactures matrix and edge trim removal systems for the label and narrow web industry. The company offers both Venturi systems (sometimes called inductors or eductors) and cutter systems (sometimes called choppers), depending upon customer's requirements and needs.

Larry Bush, president of CTM, says there are pros and cons to each type of system. "Since we supply both types, we have lengthy discussions with our customers to come up with the best possible solution to meet their needs," he says.

The greatest advantage of a Venturi system, Bush says, is that it is virtually maintenance free, while a disadvantage is that it has a higher electricity usage than a cutter system. "Venturi systems use fans or blowers to induce air flow at the pickup area by blowing air through the Venturi at a high velocity. The system then pneumatically conveys the matrix or edge trim in a continuous stream to a discharge point. Depending on the application, some type of air separation is implemented to separate the matrix or edge trim from the air stream. This can be as simple as a mesh bag, a perforated steel elbow, knockout box or a slant screen air separator. Another disadvantage of venturi systems is that one Venturi is needed for each press or slitter. Mixing matrix or edge trim from two or more locations will cause clogging problems because of the different speeds of the presses or slitters," Bush says.

A silencer attached to CTM's inline cutter
A cutter system has a much lower electrical requirement than a Venturi system. However, there are some maintenance issues such as the sharpening or replacement of knives, and over time, new bearings. CTM has recently developed systems that address these issues. "Our new cutter design significantly reduces the required maintenance time. No special tools are needed, and access to the knives is made simple," Bush explains. "Cutter systems chop the matrix or edge trim into small pieces that can be easily conveyed in a relatively small diameter pipe. Contrary to Venturi systems, multiple machines running at different speeds can be combined in a cutter system. The cut material then goes through a material handling fan and then into some type of air separator, usually a cyclone or slant screen air separator."

Bush emphasizes that no matter which type of system is used, the use of non-stick coatings is essential to proper performance. "Non-stick coatings can be Teflon or a plasma- type coating. Oil mist systems are also offered to assist with very aggressive adhesive applications. Most of our customers who have purchased our Venturi systems do not use any oil mist. Cutter systems, however, most often require an oil mist system to keep the internal areas of the cutter lubricated to prevent chopped up matrix from accumulating."

Bush points out the many areas where cost savings can be found by utilizing CTM's matrix removal systems. He says the systems remove the labor and eliminate the press stoppages required to remove wound up matrix, as well as the labor to remove waste from the production area. Also eliminated is the cost of cores to wind up matrix and when used with a butt splicer, the press can run indefinitely, so there's no down time for roll changing.

"CTM Systems prides itself in the fact that we offer high quality matrix removal systems at competitive pricing. Even more important is our commitment to best-in-class ongoing service and support after the sale," Bush says. "We understand the implications of downtime and we work with our customers to provide the best solution to their specific needs."

Precision AirConvey

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.

A matrix removal system from Precision AirConvey
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.

Dual dust collectors from PAC
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.

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