In a huge range of industries – from automotive manufacturing, to printing, and from healthcare to packaging – static frequently poses a serious problem to be overcome. The label converting industry is no exception, and with competition to catch the attention of consumers on supermarket shelves fiercer than ever, eye-catching designs and consistent quality are prerequisites for commercial success.
And as that cut-throat competition puts ever-greater downward pressure on prices – losing valuable production time due to product rejections and machinery breakdowns is not sustainable for any converting business.
Left unchecked, static can also present a serious health and safety risk. Aside from the obvious likelihood of unpleasant electric shocks, static charges can cause sparking, which poses a significant fire risk.
Static is a problem all converters can relate to, but there are a range of factors that can influence just how big a challenge it poses. Production speed is, of course, a major factor – static build-up can be greatly reduced or even eliminated by slowing down production speeds. In the highly competitive, modern converting marketplace, however, this is simply not a realistic option. Production speed has to be maximized to keep pace with demand and ensure that expensive machinery is producing enough to remain profitable. And the faster the web moves, the greater the chances of static charges being generated.
Another factor affecting static charge generation is the climate. When it’s damp or humid, moisture in the air helps to dissipate electrons before charges can build up. In drier conditions, charges build up far more readily, and static shocks are much more likely. Drier air is more prevalent in the winter months, but in the summer, air conditioning indoors can also create a very dry atmosphere, which increases the possibility of static charge generation. For one long-standing Meech customer, an Indiana-based flexible packaging company serving some of the biggest global brands, the cold, dry winter months were when they found their problems with static were most acute. An investment in Meech ionizing bars in 2014 has ensured seamless year-round production in the years since.
The type of substrate used is also obviously a major factor in static charge generation – and the plastic substrates necessary for label production are some of the most susceptible, making effective static control absolutely vital for label converters.
There are many different products out there to give converters control over static build-up on their production lines. For the best results, static control solutions should be paired with web cleaning technology to ensure that webs are free of both static charges and any dust or other debris that might compromise the end product.
There are two main actions that make web cleaning successful – the boundary layer of air on the web must be broken, allowing contamination trapped under and within it to be removed, and the static charge on the web must be eliminated so that contamination can be removed. Untreated webs will attract dust, dirt and other contaminants – this can impact final product appearance, leading to waste and downtime as debris can block up important machinery on the production line.
The typical remedy for a narrow web press is to install a web cleaning system before the first print station, with static control systems before each of the other print stations to make sure the web stays static free. A thorough system such as this will result in a spotless web – vital in a sector where consistently high levels of quality are essential for commercial success.
Active static control uses ionization, which employs high voltage AC or “pulsed” DC to produce ionized air to neutralize surface charges. Static control bars, such as those found in Meech’s extensive Hyperion range, have marked a transition from AC systems to 24v integrated power supplies, providing more efficient ionization. Long-range ionizing systems achieve highly efficient static control in general applications, whereas for short to medium range applications (with target distances varying between 2" to 20"), plug and play bars are better suited. And for installations where space in which to install ionizing equipment is extremely limited, Meech’s Hyperion 924IPS bar is the most compact pulsed DC bar available on the market.
No two customers are the same – the challenges and problems static causes will differ from company to company, as will the specifics of the solution best suited to each. The speed of the productions lines; the types of substrate being used; the level cleanliness of the work environment – all will have a bearing on choosing the best product. Meech has the expertise and the product range to create bespoke solutions, tailored to meet specific needs.
Recent advances in wireless technology have also opened the door for more automated processes in static control. Devices, such as Meech’s SmartControl, present detailed information on static levels and allow users to remotely monitor and adjust the performance of connected Hyperion equipment through a mobile phone, tablet or remote desktop.
SmartControl tracks ionizing equipment’s performance using Meech’s Ion Current Monitoring Technology. As well as monitoring, the SmartControl also makes it possible to adjust and control connected ionizers in order to optimise efficiency.
A single SmartControl has the capacity for up to six Hyperion devices to be connected at a time (additional devices can be connected using an expansion kit). This means that in an application using multiple ionizing bars, they can all be monitored and controlled through one SmartControl unit.
The efficiency of Meech’s static control solutions – and the crucial role they can play in cutting down on energy use and waste – is well illustrated by a new Meech customer in South Korea. This blister packaging manufacturer had trialed various static control products over the years but found them to be unreliable, their range limited and that operators frequently received shocks. When introduced to Meech’s Hyperion 929IPS bar through a local distributor, they discovered that not only did it have a much greater effective range than their previous solutions, and no risk of shocks to operators, it also had the added benefit of automatically, and continuously, adjusting the positive and negative ion charges as required. Given the vast range of different shapes, sizes and types of plastic thermoformed products produced by this company, having this kind of flexibility was extremely valuable.
Furthermore, the company was able to benefit from a Korean government initiative to boost efficiency and reduce waste in factories around the country. In late 2018, the South Korean government launched its “Smart Factory” initiative, which aims to improve efficiency and reduce waste in the manufacturing sector through the use of advanced and environmentally friendly technologies. The South Korean government hopes to have helped 30,000 factories transform themselves by 2022 – making subsidies available to manufacturing businesses investing in technology with a proven ability to reduce waste and boost efficiency. Meech’s Hyperion bars are approved by this initiative – underlining their cost, time and waste saving credentials.
About Meech International: Meech International is a global provider of static control devices for a huge range of production sectors. Established in 1907, Meech International is a manufacturer of static control, compressed air technology and both contact and non-contact web cleaning systems. Meech has specialized in industrial electrostatic control for over 50 years, with R&D ongoing to match changing customer needs. Meech has developed the industrial use of pulsed DC technology for static control and now has thousands of systems installed in the plastics, converting, printing and packaging industries. Headquartered in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, Meech is a global company with offices and customers all around the world. Meech Static Eliminators USA, located in Norton, OH, serves customers throughout the Americas.
About the author: Matt Fyffe joined Meech USA in 1994 and has subsequently been involved in all facets of Meech’s business activity in the USA. He was appointed VP and general manager in 2001, with responsibility for day-to-day operations of Meech USA and the development of Meech business in Latin and South America. For more information, visit www.meech.com.
TAKK Industries launches the 3024 Compact – ‘the smallest 24-V DC short-range static-eliminator bar available’
TAKK Industries, a manufacturer and supplier of static elimination tools to the narrow web label converting industry, has announced the launch of the 3024 Compact, a static elimination product that is being touted as the industry’s smallest 24-V DC short-range static elimination tool.
Joe Overman, president of TAKK Industries, says, “This powerful, high-performance static-eliminator works very well with high-speed machinery where space is constrained. And, it’s a real workhorse. The 3024 Compact is the only bar, at this scale available, with an integrated power supply. The compact design is ideal where space constraints exist. The 3024 Compact is ideal for fast-moving materials- at speeds up to 4200 fpm – that’s over 48 miles per hour.”
Overman adds that TAKK Industries’ customers using the 3024 Compact experience increased production speeds, reduced rejects, less downtime and enhanced product quality. “This bar really pays for itself quickly,” he says.
The 3024 Compact, with built-in electronics, delivers up to 7.5kV, integrated into bars that come in 6" and 8" lengths. The ideal operating range is 1" to 2", Overman says.
In addition to remote monitoring of its operational status, the 3024 Compact is high-voltage with increased density emitters for strong, close-range performance.
“The 3024 Compact is protected against undervoltage, overload and reverse polarity. It’s shockless, with resistively-coupled tungsten emitters for long-life,” explains Terrance Clark, technical sales at TAKK Industries. “To learn more about static-elimination at high-speeds, in tight places, please contact me, at TAKK, 513.353.4306 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, go to our website, www.takk.com.”
Simco-Ion offers various options for static and contamination control
One of the greatest barriers to achieving high quality is contamination. Dust and other organic material are present in the air and on substrates. If this contamination lands on the material before manufacturing, the material is compromised throughout the entire process. Ultimately, contamination on material can pose a serious threat to the quality and appearance of the end product. However, the application of high performance contact cleaning or non-contact web cleaning can dramatically improve yields, reduce waste, increase run time and increase quality, ultimately leading to greater profitability and happier customers. Simco-Ion offers label converters various options for contamination control, both in contact and non-contact form.
Simco-Ion’s Teknek NWP Narrow Web Cleaner for industrial films and papers is a top-of-the-line contact cleaning solution. It utilizes the highly effective Teknek Cleaning Core to remove surface contamination prior to the printing, coating or laminating process. Teknek’s formulated elastomer rollers are manufactured in-house and have much higher performance and cleaning properties than ordinary tacky rolls or tacky rollers, the company says. The large diameter elastomer rollers lift dry unattached particles down to a micron and transfer them to a reverse-wound, pre-sheeted adhesive roll. When the adhesive is full of contamination, a layer is easily removed, refreshing the roll.
Operators have full side access to the Teknek pre-sheeted adhesive rolls for purging. This ensures the NWP can be fully integrated into the line or process. Threading up of the web is made easier with the opening top half of the NWP. This feature also allows operators full access to the elastomer rollers for cleaning. Additionally, the flexibility in mounting position ensures the NWP can be fully integrated into many applications. The machine can be mounted in both vertical and horizontal positions depending on the requirements of the application.
The NWP has the option of two different anti-static systems, active and passive. Mounted on the exit of the machine, each system will greatly reduce the risk of re-contamination of the web after cleaning. The flexible design of the NWP allows for optional diverter rollers to be fitted either to the entry or exit of the machine. The ability for different web paths in and out of the NWP provides customers with many mounting position options.
Simco-Ion also offers label converters a selection of non-contact cleaning solutions. The V-Force 30, an industrial vacuum cleaning system for narrow web machines, combines the power of static neutralization with high vacuum, high volume and high velocity – allowing for ultimate cleaning. The complete system includes a non-contact cleaning hood with active static neutralizing bars, a ducting kit, and a self-contained Air Control System (ACS). It can be easily installed onto any area of open web on most major narrow web presses and other narrow web machinery, making it suitable for any application.
The V-Force 30’s low-profile hood integrates four barrier brushes to manage air velocity and air flow. It also incorporates shockless static bars, two upper and two lower, to quickly neutralize and break the bond between charged particulate and the running web up to 2,000 fpm. This optimizes the cleaning performance and neutralizes the web surface.
The ACS is an all-in-one, clean air blow-off/vacuum and collector support cabinet that drives Simco-Ion’s cleaning hood. This product provides optimal filtration and airflow. The ACS’s stainless steel enclosure incorporates enhanced acoustic isolation for blowers and vacuum chambers, making the system quieter than a Shop Vac.
Most importantly, the ACS incorporates a non-regenerative blower design with dedicated turbines and a filtered fresh air intake, providing powerful performance without the use of costly compressed air. The quad turbine vacuum source is strategically designed so that there is no degradation of vacuum suction, as each filter accumulates particles. Its flexible design and small footprint makes the V-Force 30 system an efficient cleaning system for any demanding application.
Simco-Ion is a large global manufacturer of static control products and has been providing products to electrostatic issues in a wide range of industries since 1936. Simco-Ion’s comprehensive product line incorporates years of research, engineering and field experience. Simco-Ion understands that each application has specific static control or web cleaning requirements. That is why they offer static control solutions for various manufacturing processes and environments aimed at increasing productivity and quality.
For more information, visit www.simco-ion.com