Static Control & Web Cleaning

Improving productivity with static control By Adam Battrick, sales director at Meech International

Although static control bars can be

manufacturers, converters are under more pressure than ever before. A substantial range of speciality foils, plastics and other substrate materials are helping products stand out on shop shelves and manufacturers of packaging and labelling must be able to produce these materials to an exceptionally high standard or risk increased scrappage costs and lost business.


THREATS TO CONVERTERS High demand, though beneficial from a profit point of view, can lead to a myriad of potential problems for converters. High speed lines, where tight deadlines and deliveries must be fulfilled, can lead to contamination becoming present on webs, whereby dust, dirt and other assorted particles in the vicinity of the converting equipment become drawn to the surface of the material. One of the primary causes of this is the presence of static charges. Static occurs when an external force causes an electrical charge to move from one material to another, leaving one positively charged and the other negatively charged. Examples range from fast moving web rolls that interact with equipment parts causing friction; the separation of the roll as it unwinds, or through induction from surrounding machinery. The size of the charge is determined by the force of the friction, speed, pressure and separation – increased force and faster processes will ultimately lead to larger charges being generated. If static generation is not deterred, finished products may appear distorted, printed products may appear out of register or extruded films may have tiny holes. Accumulations of contaminants can also cause blockages in machinery, leading to downtime and maintenance costs. Dust attraction is also one of the biggest issues for the pharmaceutical, and food and drink industries, where there is significant

24 July/ August 2019

ith the rising demand for high quality finished packaging and labelling from product

demand for high levels of quality control.

ELIMINATING STATIC CHARGES A long-standing solution that eliminates static charges comes in the form of ionisation technology, which employs high voltage AC or “pulsed” DC to produce ionised air, whereby a voltage is fed to an array of emitter pins mounted on an ionising bar which creates a high-energy “cloud” of positive and negative ions that neutralise surface charges. Static control bars, such as those found in

Meech’s Hyperion range, have marked a transition from AC systems to 24v integrated power supplies, providing more efficient ionisation. Today’s bars are more resilient to contamination buildup than previous systems and allow for easier cleaning, while their improved shockless design also makes them safer for operators to handle. Long range ionising systems achieve highly efficient static control in general applications, whereas for short range applications, plug and play bars are better suited. Recently developed mid-range systems incorporate extremely powerful ionisation and up to 50% greater maximum working distance than traditional mid- range bars.

controlled on site and their performance adjusted to suit the application, the introduction of Industry 4.0 to static control principles is helping to improve the way converters function. Using LAN or WAN networks, an automated system can be connected to a multitude of static control devices, allowing for them to be adjusted quickly and remotely through a single online platform and reducing the need for on-site monitoring of static control issues. Operating performance information of the static bar is sent via the chosen method of connection to a selected local display unit, such as a mobile phone, tablet, touch screen or monitor. This allows the operator of the

converting equipment to access the performance information at any place at any time and amend the operating settings to achieve maximum productivity and quality output.

WEB CLEANERS Any static control system should be used in tandem with a web cleaner in order to maximise the cleanliness of the web. By removing the debris that contaminates webs, downtime and wastage levels can be reduced. Web cleaning technology comes in two forms – contact and non-contact. Deciding on the most practical system depends on the web materials being processed, the application, the flexibility required by the converting line, and the available budget. Contact cleaners are designed to make

contact with the web and break the boundary layer. Some such systems incorporate twin elastomer rollers, which are in full contact with the entire width of the web and physically lift debris from the web’s surface. Non-contact systems, such as Meech’s CyClean, use blow-and-vacuum technology that employs air knives on either side of the web, stripping the boundary layer of contaminants which are captured and subsequently removed.

CONCLUSION Due to its impact on web and machinery performance, static’s elimination should be a fundamental part of the quality control measures adopted by any converter. Combining automated static control and a web cleaner can allow for the most pristine of webs, guaranteeing consistent print quality, reducing the need for maintenance and ensuring high levels of health and safety are observed.

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