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AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe • May 18-21, 2020 • Valencia, Spain • Register Now

Flexible Packaging Special Market Report 2020 Quarter 1 Printed Electronics USA 2019 Report ........................... 10 2020 AIMCAL Executive Leadership Conference ........ 24 AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe 2020 Preview.......... 25 Despite plastic-waste disputes, flex-pack industry well positioned to grow in every category in US ........... 32 Flexible plastic packaging in the circular economy..... 36 Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion enhancement of cast-film systems................................ 42 Benefits of in-register pattern metallization ................. 48 Troubleshooting and defect reduction in web-coated products.................................................... 52 2019 AIMCAL Matteucci Award: Dynamics of dispersing blades....................................... 58 Roll-to-roll coating of flexible materials: Program focus on “Technology Cross-Over” ................. 62 Stretching the limits: Ultra-thin polymer film R2R metallization for capacitor applications ............... 68 Multi-tension-zone drive system for web handling: Part 1 Dry Commissioning .................... 74 The emerging trend of hybrid radiation curing ............ 82 Guidelines for web-coating of quality, cost-effective products: Part 2........................................ 88 Tensioned-web over slot-die coating: Part 2 ................. 91

Official Publication of the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators

ULTIMATE CONTROL IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS Introducing the Control Series, T Tidland’s next generation of electronic knifeholders. U ltim Ultimate slit quality requires ultimate control. A vailable in Control and Control Plus models, Tidland’s Available newest innovation in slitting ffeatures a multi-function LED-backlit rresistive e touchscreen interface, greater robustness for harsh, mill duty environments and available wireless o pe operation from any Wi-Fi-enabled device. T he C o The Control Plus model adds real-time side force m onito monitoring via the touchscreen or a PC interface to eensure n the highest possible slit quality.


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2020 Quarter 1 Vol. 10, No. 1


Despite plastic-waste disputes, flex-pack industry is well positioned to grow in every category in the US The flexible-packaging converting field is poised to continue growing in the US because of – not in spite of – its environmental sustainability. End-oflife management must be solved to address consumer demands and CPG sustainability goals. By Alison Keane, Esq., president and CEO, Flexible Packaging Assn.

29 Flexible Packaging Special Market Report

Linear economy:

“Flows like a river” *

Circular economy:

Flexible plastic packaging in the circular economy


Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion enhancement of cast-film systems

This SPE FlexPackCon 2019 award-winning article presents the concept of circular economy, relates it to present work in the plastics industry, and seeks to arouse curiosity to generate a new creative mindset in flexible packaging. By Dr. Pierre Sarazin, dir.-R&D, PolyExpert, Inc., et al

Reduction of individual polymer-layer thicknesses down to 25 to 50 nm lets processors produce films with unusual optical reflections, enhanced OTR and/ or WVTR barrier and increased toughness for new applications. By Dr. Michael Ponting, co-founder & president, and Deepak Langhe, dir., PolymerPlus LLC

“Like Like a lake” lake *

Raw Materials




Benefits of in-register pattern metallization


Troubleshooting and defect reduction in coated products

Residual Waste

* From Walter R. Stahel, Circular Economy, 2016, Nature 531, 435-438

36 Flexible plastic packaging in the circular economy

New registration control lets converters metallize previously printed film accurately matching the graphic motifs. Process features, quality performance and the vast potential of a variety of applicatons are presented. By Fabiano Rimediotti, vacuum technologist, Nordmeccanica N.A., Vacuum Div.

Managing well understood defects in an established product is different from dealing with poorly understood defects that arise unexpectedly or with a new product. By Dr. Ted Lightfoot, principal consultant, Ted Lightfoot LLC


Roll-to-roll coating of flexible materials: Program focus on “Technology Cross-Over” The AIMCAL technical advisor reviews the highlights of two days of presentations during the 2019 ProFlex conference, organized by Fraunhofer FEP in Dresden, Germany. Individual technologies need to be combined to make new electronics products. By Dr. Charles A. Bishop, principal, C.A.Bishop Consulting, Ltd.

68 48 Benefits of in-register pattern metallization


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Stretching the limits: Ultra-thin polymer film R2R metallization for capacitor applications This 2019 AIMCAL R2R Conference Asia award-winning paper reports on a new 1,100-mm-wide vacuum-coating solution for UTPF technical trends, process challenges and advancements for the production of complex electrodes. By Dr. Anye Chifen, senior technical executive, ENGICCS GmbH, et al


2019 AIMCAL Matteucci Award: Dynamics of dispersing blades


Drives for Web Handling: Multi-tension-zone drive system for web handling: Part 1 Dry Commissioning

This paper reviews the difference between mixing and dispersing, general rules for optimum mixing, general rules for optimum dispersing, and the various blade styles for both processes. By Daniyel Firestone, president, Norstone, Inc.

How does a drive technician plan and execute the commissioning of a webhandling line drive system in an effective, timely and cost-effectve manner? By Clarence Klassen, P.Eng., KlassENgineering, Inc.


Drying & Curing: The emerging trend of hybrid radiation curing


Guidelines for coating quality, cost-effective products: Part 2


Tensioned-web over slot-die (TWOSD) coating: Part 2


Characteristics of UV, LED and Excimer curing, their advantages and challenges are presented. By Chris Davis, head of sales-Industrial Systems, IST America

58 Dynamics of dispersing blades

Each solution web-coated product has a range of distinct process requirements. This paper covers selecting a coating method, general operation and waste management. By Dr. Ed Cohen, president, Edward D. Cohen Consulting

The TWOSD concept uses a metal roll and a metal slot die within microns of each other. This paper covers process design, web-handling aspects and key process factors. By Mark Miller, CEO, Coating Tech Slot Dies LLC

COLUMNS SUBSTRATE SECRETS: Film & Substrate Manufacturing How do we design a substrate to have enhanced surface chemistry? Part 2 By Dr. Eldridge M. Mount


VACUUM VERBIAGE: Vacuum Processing & Deposition Is it possible to predict a film’s barrier performance before vacuum metallizing? By Dr. Charles Bishop


COATING CONCEPTS: Practical Web Coating & Drying Why are original and current coater designs important in new products? Part 1 By Dr. Edward D. Cohen


CUT POINTS: Practical Slitting/Rewinding Advice How can we improve razor-blade cut-edge quality and reduce defects? By David Rumson


ECONOMIC FRONT: Business Trends and Forecasts What a difference a year makes By Dr. Robert C. Fry

68 Stretching the limits: Ultra-thin polymer film R2R metallization for capacitor applications

104 WEB WISE: Practical Web-Handling Advice

How can our web processing change when “we didn’t change a thing?” By Dr. David R. Roisum

DEPARTMENTS EDITOR’S COMMENT .............. 4 AIMCAL NEWS.......................... 6 BREAKTHROUGHS ................ 10 INSTALLATIONS ..................... 95 PATENT PROFILES ................ 96

TECHNOLOGY WATCH ................ 97 INDUSTRY CALENDAR................. 99 MARKETPLACE ........................... 100 SUPPLIER INDEX ........................ 103

74 Drives for Web Handling: Multi-tension-zone drive system for web handling: Part 1 Dry Commissioning

ON THE COVER: Various entries in the FPA 2020 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition show off their colorful, high-tech designs. (Photo courtesy of the Flexible Packaging Assn.) 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


EDITOR’S COMMENT Special Market Report on Flexible Packaging


he global flexible-packaging market is perhaps the most colorful and creative field in the converting industry. And by some estimates, it will grow to represent $303.2 billion in value by 2024. In the first of our new Special Market Reports for 2020, we’ve collaborated with the Flexible Packaging Assn. (FPA) to offer an overview of flex-pack market demands & legislative developments, as well as four technical papers covering breakthrough technologies by leading industry experts. Among the papers:  FPA President/CEO Alison Keane explains how flex-pack converting will continue to grow because of – not in spite of – its environmental sustainability amid consumer demands and CPG-company goals.  In his SPE FlexPackCon award-winning article, Dr. Pierre Sarazin presents the concept of Circular Economy and its application to a new creative mindset for flexible plastic packaging.  Dr. Michael Ponting of PolymerPlus LLC describes how new micro- and nanolayer coextrusion of cast films enhances OTR and/or WVTR barrier, offering a variety of improvements for flex packs.  New registration control lets converters vacuum-metallize preprinted film to accurately match the graphics, explains Fabiano Rimediotti of Nordmeccanica, thus boosting quality and product-marketing opportunities.  Dr. Ted Lightfoot covers three strategies for troubleshooting web-coated product issues and which strategies are most appropriate in what context. AIMCAL begins 2020 with a new executive director. Chris Kerscher (right) succeeds Craig Sheppard, who retired at the end of 2019 after 21 years at the helm of the association. Chris has worked with international teams and all stages of the plastics and specialty-material value chain and brings to AIMCAL a strong background in technology, marketing, sales, association management, and strategy.

PUBLISHER Jeff Peterson jeff@petersonpublications.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mark A. Spaulding 262-697-0525, mark@aimcal.org MANAGING EDITOR Dianna Brodine dianna@petersonpublications.com ART DIRECTOR Becky Arensdorf becky@petersonpublications.com NATIONAL SALES DIRECTOR Janet Dunnichay janet@petersonpublications.com COPY EDITOR Kelly Adams kelly@petersonpublications.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Brenda Schell brenda@petersonpublications.com Published by:

Peterson Publications, Inc. 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 785-271-5801 www.petersonpublications.com Official Publication of:

“This is an exciting time to join AIMCAL,” he says, noting, “Major markets and applications for coating, laminating, and metallizing are evolving. Dynamic conditions create a favorable environment for AIMCAL to continue successful programs and simultaneously explore new services aligned with changing industry needs.” Chris’s background includes many years of association board experience, primarily with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), Flexible Packaging Div., where he served as marketing chair (2007-2009), technical program chair (2013-2015), and board chairman (2016-2018). As the technical program chair, Chris was instrumental in coordinating efforts for the first joint AIMCAL/SPE conference (now R2R Conference USA/FlexPackCon).

Association of International Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators 150 Executive Center Drive, Suite 201 Greenville, SC 29615 803-948-9470, fax: 803-948-9471 www.aimcal.org

Join me in welcoming Chris to AIMCAL. 

Converting Quarterly is published quarterly. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher.

Mark A. Spaulding Associate Publisher & Editor-in-Chief 262-697-0525 mark@aimcal.org


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Begin or renew your subscription at www.convertingquarterly.com



ello, AIMCAL members and CQ subscribers. Welcome to 2020 and what is sure to be an exciting year in our industry of metallizing, coating and laminating. If it wasn’t clear in 2019, it certainly is now that the world is making big moves in the area of environmental awareness when it comes to packaging and converting. The subjects of recyclability, compostability and sustainability are impacting virtually every company in our industry one way or another. Our AIMCAL slate of events and CQ issues will keep you connected with people and information covering these topics and more. Shortly after this issue is published, AIMCAL will hold its 2020 Executive Leadership Conference, March 24-25 at the

NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. Fittingly, AIMCAL will kick off its 50th year with the unveiling of the AIMCAL Hall of Honor. The inaugural class of five inductees will be celebrated for their unbelievable accomplishments and tireless efforts in our industry and in our association. On May 18, our five-day R2R Conference Europe will open in Valencia, Spain, in cooperation with AIMPLAS (Technological Institute of Plastics). Later this fall, the R2R Conference USA will be held in sunny Orlando, FL. Finally, this will be my last President’s letter as my two-year term ends in March 2020. It has been an honor and pleasure to serve an association that I believe in so strongly and to help foster growth, change and expansion along the way. Thank you to my fellow board members, the AIMCAL staff and each AIMCAL member for their support. Respectfully, Milan Moscaritolo President of the Board – AIMCAL

AIMCAL to celebrate its 50th anniversary at NASCAR Hall of Fame

AIMCAL will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the 2020 Executive Leadership Conference, March 24-25, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. Keynote speaker Jeff Burton, professional stock car racing champion and NBC Sports analyst, will discuss the “Role of Communication in Building High-Performance Teams.” Known for his business intellect and leadership, Burton has worked closely with NASCAR on safety improvements, including the creation of more protective seats, track walls, cockpits, helmets, uniforms and HANS devices. Known by fans, competitors and media as “The Mayor,” he is frequently sought out for his perspective on issues affecting NASCAR.

Executive Leadership Conference attendees will have a chance to learn about NASCAR history and experience race-car simulators during the 50th Anniversary Reception.

The Executive Leadership Conference will open with the annual AIMCAL Awards Ceremony and recognition of the inaugural class of inductees to the new AIMCAL Hall of Honor. The honorees are outstanding contributors to AIMCAL and the roll-to-roll (R2R) industry with a minimum of 10 years of participation with the association and at least 15 years of employment in the R2R industry. The ceremony also will honor Product of the Year, Technology of the Year and Sustainability Award competition winners.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

AIMCAL will mark its golden anniversary in March at its 2020 Executive Leadership Conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Winners in each category receive a trophy and international recognition in industry publications. In another keynote, Kyla Fisher, program manager for AMERIPEN, will discuss “Sustainable Packaging Trends: Death Knell or Opportunity for Lamination and Metallization?” Other conference highlights include presentations on safety, economic outlooks, mergers and acquisitions, motivation across generations, and employee recruitment and retention. An optional dinner and team competition at Top Golf is scheduled. Registration materials are available on the AIMCAL Website, www.aimcal.org.

Pay dues now to be included in the 2020 AIMCAL SourceBook

Membership renewal forms have been emailed to AIMCAL members. Dues must be paid by Feb. 15, 2020, to be included in the 2020 edition of the AIMCAL SourceBook. A major perk of AIMCAL membership, the SourceBook is a cross-referenced list of members and their capabilities. The print version is distributed at many meetings and tradeshows throughout the year. The reference also can be accessed electronically at www.aimcal.org by clicking the SourceBook link on the Membership tab. AIMCAL membership All AIMCAL members benefits each employee in a meeting the deadline for dues member’s organization by payment are included in the providing access to technical annual AIMCAL Sourcebook, training from industry which cross-references leaders, business-building companies and capabilities. opportunities, market research and networking at meetings and through participation in the work of AIMCAL Technical Committees. Members also receive discounts on industry events and training.

“The growing popularity of the topic and its technology demands that we bring back the Web Handling Committee to work with our Web Coating Committee members,” says Joe Connelly Neal Michal AIMCAL President Milan Moscaritolo. “This renewed emphasis will bring the best attendees to the AIMCAL R2R events in Valencia, Spain, and Orlando, FL, in 2020.”

Spain’s AIMPLAS will host AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe 2020

The agenda is being finalized for the 2020 AIMCAL R2R (rollto-roll) Conference Europe, hosted by AIMPLAS, May 18-21, in Valencia, Spain. Like previous R2R conferences, the dual-track schedule will focus on web coating, vacuum web coating and web handling. In addition to technical sessions, the schedule includes a tabletop exhibition, short courses, networking activities and plenty of opportunities to speak to industry experts. AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, is a non-profit association, which coordinates research, development and innovation projects and provides analysis and testing, technical assistance, training, and competitive and strategic intelligence services for companies in the plastics industry. To register, click on 2020 R2R Europe Conference on the Events link on the AIMCAL Website, www.aimcal.org. continued on page 8 

For membership questions or to join AIMCAL, contact Tim Janes (tim@aimcal.org, 803-948-9469).

Web Handling Committee returns

AIMCAL has reactivated its Web Handling Committee. Joe Connelly, product manager-Winding and Slitting at Parkinson Technologies, and Neal Michal, principal of Converting Expert LLC, serve as co-chairs.

The 2020 AIMCAL R2R Europe Conference will be hosted by AIMPLAS in Valencia, Spain. 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


AIMCAL NEWS  continued from page 7

Save the date (Oct. 18-21) for the R2R Conference USA 2020

One of the most respected and well-attended technical meetings in the converting world, the AIMCAL R2R Conference USA, makes its annual appearance, Oct. 18-21, in Orlando, FL. A schedule with multiple tracks and several keynotes features presentations on roll-to-roll (R2R) processes. Experts from consulting, academic, original equipment manufacturer organizations and end users of converting equipment and converted materials will discuss developments in web coating and laminating, vacuum web coating, web handling and winding, adhesives and coatings, while also providing market overviews. The schedule includes tabletop receptions with 75+ exhibitors. A popular Vendor Session presents entertaining infomercials limited to three minutes each. The best pitch earns an AIMMY Award. Contact AIMCAL Operations Manager Tracey Messina (tracey@aimcal.org, 803-948-9470) for tabletop exhibition and sponsorship information. Registration materials will be available this summer on the AIMCAL Website, www.aimcal.org.

Membership roster grows by six

AIMCAL moves ever closer to the 300 mark with the addition of six members since the last edition of Converting Quarterly. With four out of the six newcomers based outside North America, the association’s international presence continues to expand. DCS USA Corp. (Morrisville, NC): Engineering teams in Europe, Asia, and the United States support installation of Sysco Machinery rotary diecutting, laminating, and lasercutting equipment for roll-to-roll or roll-to-sheet applications. US subsidiary of Dorey Converting Systems (Chatillon Saint Jean, France) also integrates laser (CO2 or fiber), printing, and ultrasonic technology to achieve complete lines for multilayer products. (314-220-0732) Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland): The Plasma Research Laboratory, School of Physical Sciences, at the university focuses on third-level coursework and research and development efforts devoted primarily to plasma sources and plasma diagnostics, plasma physics and understanding commercial plasma systems, and engineering plasma systems to deliver process goals. (+35387-6943644) entrotech, inc. (Columbus, OH): As a vertically integrated provider of advanced materials, the company has witnessed the emergence of carbon fiber, pushed the boundaries of existing


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

technologies and developed new molecules that result in advanced products for diverse applications such as battlefield medical care, high-performance disc drives and intelligent paint technology for rigorous aerospace requirements. (910-616-4217) FUJIFILM Manufacturing Europe (Tilburg, The Netherlands): One of the largest FUJIFILM production companies outside of Japan, the company produces photo paper, offset plates, and membranes. Its Tilburg Research Laboratory develops new products and optimizes existing products with a focus on membranes and regenerative medicine. With approximately 850 employees, it’s one of the largest industrial employers in the region. Powered by a large afterburner and five wind turbines, the operation generates 100% of its energy needs. (+31-13-57919-11) Keplinger Research Group, University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO): Located in the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, the group researches and develops artificial muscles made primarily from thin-film polymer pouches. Destined for soft robotic devices, the hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic actuators combine muscle-like performance, self-healing capabilities and exceptional versatility. (540-535-5710) Supervac Industries LLP (New Delhi, India): This specialist in vacuum coating manufactures and supplies consumables for the vacuum-coating industry. A worldwide network of facilities ensures quick order turnaround and technical support. The company claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of graphite and boron-nitride suspensions and offers an array of equipment, vacuum oils and testing capabilities. (+91-1143554966)

Locate suppliers via Ask AIMCAL The Ask AIMCAL form on the AIMCAL Website, www.aimcal.org, helps users of converting products, services, equipment and materials to locate suppliers and answer technical questions.

Queries are directed to the appropriate AIMCAL member companies and can be categorized according to product or related service, including the following:  Coated / Laminated Films, Papers, Non-Wovens  Metallized / Vacuum Coated Films, Papers  Coating Equipment / Accessories  Vacuum Coating Equipment / Accessories  Slitting / Rewinding / Diecutting  Adhesives / Coatings  Base Films  Base Papers  Other Product / Service Requests 


Emerging printed-electronics technology finding proven, real-world applications Global market for printed, flexible, organic electronics is about $37.1 billion. By Editor-in-Chief Mark A. Spaulding


hen it comes to today’s printed-electronics (PE) arena, high-technology enabling materials and manufacturing advances are uniting to create new form factors (flexible, stretchable) to increase the ubiquity of electronics (sensors, wearables and the Internet of Things). That’s the 30,000-ft overview presented at the recent IDTechEx Show! USA 2019 in Santa Clara, CA. One highlight of the tradeshow is the handson Demonstration Street, showing real-world applications of breakthrough printed-electronics technologies. Two of the score of examples that caught my eye: SunCurtain (Kitzingen, Germany) organic photovoltaic (OPV) vertical shading system (see below): The idea is to turn curtains into miniature power plants. Classic louvered slats are made of flexible, semi-transparent OPV materials via OPVIUS GmbH, that let enough light into the room so that no artificial light is needed. The setup is reportedly as effective as a 150W/m2 solar panel but needs only a 5-min installation. It also blocks up to 40% of infrared heat from the outside. Asada Mesh Co., Ltd. (Riverview, FL), capacitive-touch photoluminescent keyboard (at right): The flexible keyboard is made via screen printing of sub-25-micron features on plastic materials equipped with capacitive sensors and backlit by photoluminescent inks via Sun Chemical. It measures only about 2 mm thick. In his opening keynote, IDTechEx CEO Raghu Das offered plenty of forecasts for the three stages of today’s $37.1-billion printed, flexible and organic electronics global market.


Enabling materials & manufacturing  OLED displays dominate the overall PE field with about $30.2 billion in market share this year. Sensors are the next big area with about a $3.9 billion share, and conductive inks take another $2.3 billion.  High-volume orders are beginning for graphene with about $50 million in sales in 2019. That may grow 10-fold to $500 million in 2029, shared equally by electronic/electrical applications and composites/heat-management uses.  Conductive inks of all types (pen, transparent layers, EMI shielding, sintered silver, silicon) may grow to a $3.22 billion market by 2029.  Printed and/or flexible logic/memory circuits will reach a $1-billion market by 2030. New form factors  Foldable OLED displays will be a $2-billion market in 2022 with about 22 million units sold. This could multiply 10-fold as well to $20 billion and 331 million units sold in 2029. Such flexible electronics will help invigorate the slowing smartphone field (see last year’s Royole FlexPai and the just-released Motorola Razr flip-phone).  Whole new product categories can be created, such as e-textiles ($340 million), flexible batteries ($190 million) and flexible sensors ($3.4 billion) by 2029. Increasing ubiquity of electronics  Biosensors will enable a $43-billion, point-of-care diagnostics market by 2029, and sensor fusion with smart packaging will lead to cashier-free retail shopping with RFIDs and machine vision taking the place of human workers.  Applications for RAIN RFIDs grew 18% from 2018 to now; with 20.1 billion RFIDs of all types in use this year. Contactless NFC cards are an especially strong market at 2.3 billion units.  Overall, wearables are a $56.3 billion market in 2019, including everything from smartwatches and fitness trackers to AR/VR headgear and skin patches. But, the strongest growth may be with healthcare applications: Medical wearables will double to nearly $20 billion between now and 2024; and continuous-monitoring skin patches (blood glucose) alone will hit $20 billion by 2029.  More info: www.idtechex.com/usa2019/show/en/

www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1


With a worldwide installation base unequaled in the industry that spans multiple markets and applications, our UV experience is OLWHUDOO\VHFRQGWRQRQH:HRIIHUWKHะบQHVWLQSURYHQ89WHFKQRORgy including LED, Traditional and Hybrid combinations of the two. When considering the addition of UV curing to your operation, let ,67SURYLGHWKHXOWLPDWH89VROXWLRQIRU\RXUFRPSDQ\7KHUHDUH lots of choices out there, as true UV professionals we can help you make an educated and informed decision on the right UV path to pursue to meet and exceed the needs of your company. IST AMERICA U.S. OPERATIONS 121-123 Capista Drive Shorewood, IL 60404-8851 Tel. +1 815 733 5345 info@usa.ist-uv.com, www.ist-uv.com

SUBSTRATE SECRETS Film & Substrate Manufacturing

Q: How do we design a substrate to have enhanced surface chemistry? Part 2

In the case of metallization, it has been found that a hydroxylated HDPE surface (EVOH, flametreated HDPE, in-chamber plasma or combinations) gives the best metallization barrier [6]. HDPE films also are more easily corona-treated to give improved adhesion [7] than homopolymer PP due to the differences in surface chemistry of the skin polymer produced by the flame vs. corona.



Treatment vs. % Surface Oxygen of Homopolymer PP Flame vs. Corona Corona Flame


Linear (Corona)

y = 1.0234x + 32.68 R² = 0.8821

Linear (Flame)


40 y = 0.4739x + 30.281 R² = 0.7954


Corona treatment of homopolymer PP results in chain-scission of the PP, 30 producing acid and keto end groups [8] and a lower molecular weight surface, 25 while flame treatment produces a lower 0 5 10 15 20 25 oxidation state with less chain scission. % oxygen In addition, flame treatment has been FIGURE 2. Dyne level vs. surface-oxygen content for flame- and coronafound to give higher dyne levels for lower treated homopolymer-PP skin. The divergent slopes indicate differences surface oxygen concentrations (see Figure in the surface chemistry for the flame- and corona-treatment methods. 2) and to give predominantly a hydroxyl (-OH) or alcohol surface chemistry with in order to obtain high dyne levels. Higher dyne levels do HDPE [9] and perhaps for homopolymer PP. not necessarily indicate an improved bonding surface, just improved wettability. In general, increased dyne levels In general, the EPcopolymers, BPcopolymers and in OPP films indicate an increase in wettability – but also EBPterpolymer are easier to corona- and flame-treat surface degradation for homopolymer-PP skins and, hence, for enhanced adhesion than the homopolymer-PP the formation of a weak boundary layer, which diminishes surfaces, also giving higher dyne levels, similar adhesion. surface chemistry and likely lower levels of chainscission, resulting in stronger surfaces (see Figure In conclusion, we can see that for OPP, the skin polymer 3). The closeness of the slopes between the flameand the surface-treatment type interact to give various and corona-treatment curves for Figure 3 suggest a dyne levels vs. surface-oxygen concentration and oxygensimilarity of surface chemistry for EPcopolymer with functional groups. These differences all factor into both flame- and corona-treatment methods. improving surface wettability, adhesion and, for metallized films, improved barrier properties. These concepts also Overtreatment downsides The greatest problem (danger!?) with surface treatment will hold true for other substrates based on HDPE, PET and Nylon. The interrelationship between surface layers, of any polymer surface is the tendency to overtreat treatment type and treatment level on surface properties and performance must be determined experimentally.

Flame treatment has been “found to give higher dyne

levels for lower surface oxygen concentrations.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Eldridge M. Mount, Ph.D. Consulting Technical Editor 585-223-3996, emmount@msn.com AIMCAL Member, AIMCAL R2R Presenter

References 6. Mount III & Wagner, US Patent 5,981,079, Nov. 9, 1999 7. Migliorini & Mount III, US Patent 5,194,318, March 16, 1993 8. Chi-Ming Chan, Polymer Surface Modification and Characterization, Hanser/Gardner Publications, Cincinnati, (1994), Chapter 7 9. Figures 7.9 and 7.10, Chi-Ming Chan, Polymer Surface Modification and Characterization, Hanser/Gardner Publications, Cincinnati, (1994)

Treatment of EP copolymers Flame vs. Corona

48 Flame



y = 1.1728x + 31.172 R² = 0.9421

Linear (Flame)


Linear (Corona)

y = 0.9262x + 33.02 R² = 0.7026


treatment, dynes/cm

Having developed many metallized films, my personal preference is for flame treatment for all skin resins, first because it has no backside treatment, which is common and unavoidable in corona treatment. Backside treatment can lead to metal pickoff. Second, because it gives lower oxidation-state oxygen functions (hydroxyl groups) on the surface, which are better for adhesion and metallized barrier properties. 

40 38 36 34 32 30 0



6 % oxygen





FIGURE 3. Dyne level vs. surface-oxygen content for flame- and coronatreated EPcopolymer skin. The similarity of slopes indicates smaller difference in the surface chemistry for the flame- and corona-treatment methods in comparison to the homopolymer PP in Figure 2.

2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


VACUUM VERBIAGE Vacuum Processing & Deposition

Q: Is it possible to predict a film’s barrier

performance before vacuum metallizing?

I was recently at the ProFlex 2019 conference in Dresden, Germany, and listened to a paper where the defects in the coating were measured on-line in the vacuum system, and these results were correlated with barrier measurements taken at a later stage. The results of this correlation then were used to predict the barrier performance of film as it was being vacuum-coated. Speaking to the author of the paper afterward, it became clear that this process was at an early stage, and the accuracy of the predictions had not been sufficiently tested yet.


This method is reasonable but, in my opinion, is really too late as the measurement of the defects is taken after the substrate has been coated, and so the cost of coating has already been incurred. The next step surely must be to measure the defects before the coating is added so that, if it is predicted to fail to meet the desired barrier requirements, the roll of film can be rejected before any coating is applied. Multiple sources of problem defects This leads to the question of what is the source of the defects that result in the loss of barrier. There are papers that demonstrate that the resistance-heated boats evaporating aluminum can produce defects in the coating because of spitting from the boats. The spitting often is caused by variations in the deposition process that cause the molten pool of aluminum to vary, and spits from the changing conditions at the edges of the pool get ejected as spitting that can result in pinholes and even damage to the polymer web from the larger spits. However, this is only a part of the range of defects that are the problem. The major source of pinholes in the metallized coating is from particulate contaminants on the substrate surface that are metallized and then moved after metallization, leaving behind pinholes in the coating where they were positioned during coating. These particulates are present when the roll is received and ready to be coated; therefore, measuring the particulate contamination of the substrate before metallization could tell you whether the film is even worth coating at all. If the particulate coating is too bad, then potentially too many pinholes will be generated. The resultant loss of barrier will mean a coated film that fails to meet the required barrier performance. This early measurement gives the opportunity to take


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

corrective action to improve the roll, such as by cleaning the surfaces, so it can meet performance requirements after metallization. This is potentially useful, but the trickier questions are who performs the measurements, when are they done and who pays for them. There appears to be a requirement for continuously improving barrier films, but the expectation for many applications seems to be that this will be at no additional cost. In my experience, it is easy to improve the barrier performance, but it always will be at some additional cost. A case of pointing fingers I can remember early in my career being told by a film supplier that all pinholes were the fault of the metallizer. Whereas the metallizers believed their process was perhaps not perfect, but reproducible enough that particularly bad coated rolls also must have some inherent problems that were attributable to the film supplier. Now we know that it is impossible to keep the film surfaces clean, and there always will be particulate contaminants on the film surface, any of which could result in a pinhole in the coating. We also know that if the evaporation process is kept stable, the number of pinholes is minimized and, conversely, that if the process is not kept stable, the number of pinholes rises. There also are papers that tell us that the more a film is handled, the more defects will be present; that the number of surface particulates increases every time the film is slit; and that there are more particles present at the film edges than in the center of the web. We have lots of information about what causes the problem of loss of barrier but not necessarily which of these factors is the most critical source of the problem. Upstream tactics It looks as if there is an opportunity for someone to grade the rolls of film before they are sold to whoever is going to coat them. I would assume the last operation that is done to the film, where it has to be unwound and rewound, would be where it is slit to width. If, on this machine, the film also is scanned to map out the number and size of the surface contamination, it would enable the film to be graded with respect to what barrier performance might be expected of it once metallized. However, if the slitter is going to go to the expense and bother of measuring the defects, then surely it ought to be in the slitter’s own interests to improve the continued on page 17 

VACUUM VERBIAGE Vacuum Processing & Deposition  continued from page 14

surface quality by cleaning the film surfaces too, thus bringing down the number of particulates and increasing the potential barrier performance. Predicting the performance by using data obtained during the process is fine and can be regarded as a manufacturing improvement. However, to me, it still is unsatisfactory because I know the film could be produced with a cleaner surface that would produce an improvement in barrier performance. Simply using a tacky roll to clean the web surfaces immediately before the rewind on the winder prior to the film going for metallizing would be an improvement. Justifying ROI for better barrier This is not something typically done because the cost of installing the equipment to scan and measure the film-surface quality and clean it is significant, particularly if it has to match the normal operating speed. Where the film supplier also takes the film downstream and metallizes its own film, the cost might be more easily absorbed. If the supplier is able to reproducibly produce a cleaner film than anyone else, the supplier will, in theory, have a justification to charge a premium for the film which could offset cost. In reality, this may not be the case. The size and number of particulates is so high that even if these were reduced by a factor of 10, the improvement in the barrier performance would be only marginal. Significant barrier improvements would result only if the reduction in the particulate-surface contamination was reduced 1,000-fold, or more.

surprising that even this method of film evaluation is not routinely done, and so films are coated first and then somewhere downstream will have the barrier performance measured. I will be interested to see if this “measure and predict” approach is adopted for the production of barrier coatings. No doubt it will be adopted if there is perceived to be sufficient cost benefit in making the change, although this looks to have the hurdle of someone’s cost for someone else’s benefit.  Editor’s Note: Read Dr. Charles Bishop’s summary of key presentations given at ProFlex 2019 on page 62.

Charles Bishop, Ph.D. +44-509-502076; cabuk8@btinternet.com Active AIMCAL Member, AIMCAL TV Presenter, R2R Presenter, Converting School Educator

With this in mind, it is not surprising that there is not a rush to install measuring and cleaning stations if all that can expected is a marginal improvement. As a low-cost alternative, unwinding a roll and cutting samples to measure and size the number of particles per unit area also could be correlated with the barrier performance. This, in theory, should give a similar result, but the error is likely to be greater as when the roll is unwound there will be an increase in the triboelectric charge on the surface which can attract more airborne particles to the surface. In addition, when the sample is cut out of the web, the cutting process will generate particles that also may increase the number of particles on the surface. This may make the samples unrepresentative of the bulk of the roll. This extra contamination may be somewhat reproducible and so may result in only an offset between this static measurement of surface contamination compared to the on-line dynamic measurement of contamination. As even this low-cost approach would take time, effort and may have big errors in the results, it is hardly 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


COATING CONCEPTS Practical Web Coating & Drying Advice

Q: Why are original and current coater

designs important in new products? Part 1

The web-coating process manufactures a wide variety of new and novel as well as upgraded current products. Each will have very different requirements, such as coating weight, drying capacity, quality, coatweight uniformity, Td & Md uniformity, substrate thickness and type, and solvent needed.


To ensure that all products being coated can be made with excellent quality, at the required sales volume and at low cost, it is essential to know the performance capability of the web-coating line being used. The needed product-process parameters must be attainable with the original design limits and current capabilities. The product may be able to be coated and still operate outside of these limits, but the quality, cost, uniformity and reproducibility will be compromised. In addition, new concept products being developed may not be coatable because they require coater parameters that cannot be achieved. For example, the range drive for a coater designed to coat a thick substrate (more than 7 mils) may not be capable of uniformly transporting a thin film (less than 1 mil) without distorting the substrate. High-tech but low volume The number of new and upgraded products produced by the web-coating process is continuing to expand and has wider product requirements. One of the characteristics of these new products, typically, is that they will be specialty materials with relatively low volumes. And as previously stated, each will have very different requirements. As a result, the coating machine has to be versatile and capable of meeting these needs. Usually, all new products will start the manufacturing cycle on an existing coating line, which may have been designed, fabricated and installed many years ago and thus may not have the capability to meet the new product’s needs. Often, new materials are not a commercial success because the required properties could not be economically achieved due to a fundamental limitation of the existing coater that could not be overcome. Also, if a product is being made close to a specific hardware limitation, it can result in deficiencies, when normal variability results in occasionally operating the coater outside of its design limits.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

TABLE 1. Web-coating process components 1a. Primary unwind 1b. Wet-bond facestock unwind 1c. Dry-bond facestock unwind 2. Web cleaner 3. Corona/flame/plasma treater 4. Coater 5. Wet-bond laminator 6. Curtain coater 7. Vacuum roll

8. UV lamp (100% solids) 9. Oven (or E-beam curing) 10. Steering roll 11. UV lamp (solvent-based) 12. Remoisturizer 13. Heated rolls/chill rolls 14. Dry-bond laminator 15. Rewind

Know your limitations Another factor to consider is that when product deficiencies occur, the cause often is traced to operating outside of the web-coater design and current capability. Often, this situation is not thought through and limits problem-solving efforts. Also, when development personnel are designing new products, they need to understand the coater’s operating parameters to ensure it meets requirements. If the current system is insufficient, the product must be modified or another manufacturing source found. (See Coating Concepts, 2019 Q4, page 16, for information on the role of contract coaters and converters). Fundamental coater limitations can be a major obstacle in developing new products and must be considered. The web-coating process The web-coating process typically includes 15 components (see Table 1). This encompasses 10 basic hardware modules and 10 ancillary modules (see Table 2). These modules are designed to provide a specific treatment to the product – such as formulate solution, apply coating to substrate, dry the wet coating, transport the substrate through the coating line – so that the final product meets all of its requirements to be a commercial success. Each module also has many hardware components that must be specifically designed and fabricated to produce the intended product requirements. These designs typically have a range of parameters so the coating line is versatile Edward D. Cohen, Ph.D. 480-836-9452; cohen146@aol.com Active AIMCAL Member, AIMCAL TV Presenter, R2R Presenter, Converting School Educator

WANT MORE PRODUCTION? Unwinding the products you use everyday! TABLE 2. Web-coating process modules Unit operation modules Substrate manufacturing Web-transport system Solution preparation Coating application Post-dryer treatment

Substrate unwind Substrate pretreatment Solution-delivery system Dryer Roll windup

See why major corporations, small converters and OEM’s prefer the proven and versatile shaftless unwind machines from Powell Engineering, Inc. Made in the USA since 1985 PROVEN QUALITY AND RELIABILITY

Ancillary modules Raw-material storage Solution characterization Process-control systems Process data systems Basic coating technology

Raw-material acceptance Operating personnel Product characterization Quality-control systems Information transfer

enough to handle more than just one unchanging product.  References E.D. Cohen, “Web Coating Defects: Role of the Coater Module,” Converting Quarterly, 2012 Q4, page 22. R. Wagner, Jr., and E.B. Water, Solvent-Based Coating Technology, Multilayer Flexible Packaging, Elsevier, 2nd ed., 2016. J. Greener, G. Pearson and M. Cakmak, Coating & Solidification in Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing: Process Elements and Recent Advances, John Wiley & Sons, 2018.

Model EP

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• Easy one man roll changes • Braked or spindle driven • Dual position units, dancers and more available • Reasonably priced • In use worldwide P: 205-625-5444 • 800-213-4267 unwind@powellengineering.com www.powellengineering.com

2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


CUT POINTS Practical Slitting/Rewinding Advice

Q: How can we improve razor-blade

cut-edge quality and reduce defects?

As I’ve stated in previous columns and technical papers, the razor-blade slitting web-separation process causes a “tensile stress fracture.” The web is separated at the “Cut Point,” and the blade pushes the two web edges away from each other.


Because there are so many different web materials, having different tensile strengths and physical stresschanging characteristics, numerous web-edge defects can happen. Multiple geometric, dynamic and blade physical factors determine the types of defects that result. This column will offer a few factors to consider relating to tangential web-path razor slitting when the full blade thickness contacts the web. These would include blade sharpness, thickness, web-path alignment and surface finish (or roughness). Note: I realize you already may have these factors under control. But, if I provide a variation or newness to your knowledge that stimulates your operationalimproving thought process, I will have accomplished what I set out to do. So, chasing the cut… Blade sharpness Sharpness relates to the blade’s Grind and Hone Angles and the finished-tip radii. The Included Grind Angle is commonly 9° to 10°, and the Included Honed Angle is 20°. The blade-tip radii are typically 0.00025 in. to 0.0005 in. (0.006-0.012 mm). (See Figure 1). Blade life and meeting finished roll-product specifications directly relate to blade sharpness, and many factors interact with the web and blade during slitting (see Figure 2). Blade thickness The more common slitting razor blades (the DoubleBevel Slotted and the Three-Hole) have a range of thicknesses from 0.004 in. to 0.125 in. (0.101-3.17 mm). These blades each can offer four different webslitting locations via blade rotation and flipping (see Figure 1). Obviously, a 0.004-in.-thick blade will cause less web disruption than the thicker 0.125-in. blade. The key is to match the blade thickness to your web’s thickness, tensile strength and web speed. Empirical (my favorite


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1



MOST COMMON SLITTING BLADES Thickness Spec +/- 0.0008”

0.004” to 0.125” (0.101 – 3.17mm)

Double Bevel Slotted DAV-CAD (N.T.S)


Included Angles 9° to 10° Grind 20° Hone

Razor Tip Radii 0.00025” to 0.0005” (0.006 – 0.012mm)

Surface Finish N.T.S.


The Three Hole DAV-CAD (N.T.S)


Four Cutting Edge Areas


Ra 32



Ra 8 Data Courtesy of Cadence Specialty Blades

FIGURE 1. Razor-blade surface finish


How Long Will Razor Blades Last? Depends on the Web…and the Blade!

Web Speed


Web Collision Force

Blade Hardness

Blade Material/Wear Resistance

Web Toughness/Density

Blade Surface Finish/Coatings

Web Abrasiveness

Blade Entry Angle

Web Thickness

Blade Shape/Thickness

Web to Blade Kinetic Friction

Blade C.O.F.

FIGURE 2. Factor impacting blade sharpness word) evaluations of different blade thickness might come into play if your slit-edge quality is slightly off at times. Blade web-path alignment Blade-to-web path alignment requires tight control of how perpendicular the blade is mounted in the machine. Because the web is under a pull tension, one side of a “skewed” blade has a higher CD (cross-machine) web stress pushing on it. This results in more edge deformation that may create a “High Edge Profile” as described by

High Roll Edge Defect Skewed Mounting ‌

Resulting In ‌ 0.9 Mil P.E. 50x (0.02mm)

IMAGE 3 ‌ and Contributing To High Edge Profile

Plastic Deformation Material Flow 100 x 12Ο (0.0005�) = 0.050� (0.013mm) = (1.27mm)


TAPPI – The Ultimate Roll and Defect Troubleshooting Guide

FIGURE 3. High roll-edge defect

surface. The RMS measurement defines the peaks and valleys across the surface. Their readings are within 1.1 of each other. Depending on your web materialâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fragility, a rougher contact-surface area increases edge deformation and slitting dust. A standard razor-blade Grind Angle target surface finish measures Ra 32 and the Honed Angle Ra 8. In comparison, a shear-knife standard finish measures 8 to 12 RMS. A polished shear knife should measure less than a 5 or 6 RMS, and a Super Finished shear-knife Primary Angle should measure <= 2 RMS. The blade-body roughness varies with the substrate from which it is made. Talk with your supplier. ď Ž

TAPPIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ultimate Roll and Defect Troubleshooting Guide and/or the blade potentially breaking (see Figure 3). Blade-surface finish Surface finish is defined by Ra and RMS values. The Ra measurement provides the average roughness of a

Dave Rumson 207-510-1959; drumson@maine.rr.com Active AIMCAL Member, AIMCAL TV Presenter, R2R Presenter, Converting School Educator



2020 Quarter 1 â&#x20AC;˘ www.convertingquarterly.com


ECONOMIC FRONT Business Trends & Forecasts

What a difference a year makes I

n December 2018, retail sales (seasonally adjusted) suffered their biggest monthly decline since 2009. Holiday sales were dragged down by a 19.8% decline in the S&P500 from Sept. 20 to Dec. 24. Stock prices, in turn, were dragged down by an escalating trade war between the United States and China, some ill-advised remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (beginning in October) and the Fed’s inexplicable decision to raise its federal funds rate target on Dec. 9.

This agreement came just days after House Democrats and the Trump Administration reached an agreement to ratify the USMexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), which updates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (You can call it NAFTA 1.1 or NAFTA 0.9, depending on whether you think it’s a little bit better or a little bit worse.) This is very good news. Another agreement reached in mid-December 2019 eliminated the risk of a government shutdown.

Industrial production in US manufacturing peaked in December 2018; by October 2019, it would be down 2.5%. Growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) downshifted in Q4 2018. Real GDP grew at just a 1.1% annual rate in the quarter and grew just 2.1% from Q3 2018 to Q3 2019, down from a 3.1% annualized growth rate over the prior five quarters.

Several positive signs ahead Even before the agreements, the US economic outlook was starting to brighten, perhaps in anticipation of these agreements. This was showing up both in hard data and soft (survey) data. A blowout November 2019 employment report, released Dec. 6, featured a 266,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls, the biggest boost since January 2019, and a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5%, a 50-year low (and 0.1 percentage point from a 66-year low). There also were upward revisions of 41,000 to employment growth over the prior two months.

Fast forward a year… In early 2019, the Fed stopped talking of rate hikes. Then, it cut its federal funds rate target in July, September and October, by a total of 0.75 of a percentage point. The about-face in monetary policy supported a rebound in stock prices. The S&P500 is at record highs, up more than 35% from its December 2018 low (see line graph above). The stock price rebound also has been aided by periodic suggestions, mostly from the Trump Administration, that the United States and China were getting close to a trade agreement. Expectations of a trade deal were realized on Dec. 13 when China and the United States announced an agreement in principle on a “Phase 1” trade deal. The deal cancels the US tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15 and cuts existing tariffs on $120 billion of Chinese goods from 15% to 7.5%, in return for increased Chinese purchases of American agricultural products and stronger protection of intellectual property. The text of the agreement still needs to be worked out (in two languages), and tariffs remain in place on many goods, but the agreement still is good news.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Industrial production in US manufacturing rose 1.1% in November, its biggest monthly increase since October 2017, but this followed declines of 0.7% in both September and October. Housing starts in November were up 18.8% from their February low and, except for August, were at their highest level since June 2007. Building permits for single-family homes, the most important number in the monthly housing report, were up 16.8% from their April low and at their highest level since July 2007. Starts and permits are reliable leading indicators for the overall economy and for manufacturing in particular. Retail sales were disappointing in November, but that could reflect difficulties in seasonally adjusting data when Thanksgiving comes very late in the month. Except for the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index (PMI), which remained below the neutral level of 50 in November, most survey data are looking up. The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was up sharply in early December, following increases in September to November. The National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB)

Even before the [US-China trade “deal and USMCA] agreements, the US economic outlook was starting to brighten, perhaps in anticipation of these agreements.

Small Business Optimism Index jumped in November. The CFO Optimism Index published by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business rose sharply in Q4 2019. (Even though the NFIB index focuses on small businesses and the CFO index focuses on large businesses, they are highly correlated with one another.) The National Assn. of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, also known as “Builder Confidence,” rose five points last December to its highest level since 1999. Help from lower interest rates – globally The improved outlook, particularly the rebound in housing, reflects interest rate cuts, not just in the United States but globally. The Fed’s October 2019 rate cut was especially helpful, not because of its magnitude or because it lowered rates to some magical level, but because the Fed signaled that it would be the last rate cut for a while. This removed the incentive for potential borrowers to wait for further rate cuts. The Fed also set a high bar for future rate hikes, which pleased financial markets. (When the federal funds rate is at the “right” level, expectations of future rate hikes and future rate cuts are evenly balanced and not very strong. Mathematically, this implies that the federal funds rate should be a random walk.) The improved outlook also reflects the reduction in trade concerns and uncertainty associated with the Phase 1 trade deal with China and the likely ratification of USMCA. The recent improvement in the economic outlook is not confined to the United States. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s broadest Composite Leading Indicator rose in October 2019 after a long decline. It doesn’t lead global industrial production by very much, but it rarely changes directions. When it does, it generally signals a turning point. Indexes from ZEW and Ifo in Germany and INSEE in France, which are leading indicators for industrial production in European manufacturing, also have turned up. Value added of industry, China’s measure of industrial production, was up 6.2% YOY in November versus just 4.7% in October.

Back in November, I noted that my own leading index will start growing in spring 2020. I’ve raised my forecast for GDP growth in the last three quarters of 2020. The brighter outlook reflects Fed easing, the lessening of trade uncertainty and the end of a global inventory adjustment. But, despite recent good news, US manufacturing is likely to remain weak in Q1 2020 because of Boeing’s suspension of production of the 737-MAX aircraft. Also, most of the expected acceleration will be due to an increase in business investment, and it takes a while to ramp up investment. Computers and software can be bought off the shelf, and light trucks can be bought off the lot, but specialized equipment (i.e., coaters, laminators, vacuum metallizers, printing presses, slitter/rewinders) and nonresidential structures have longer lead times.  From the December 2019 issue of Current Economic Conditions. Copyright ©2019 Robert Fry Economics LLC. Reprinted with permission. Robert Fry is chief economist of Robert Fry Economics LLC. To subscribe to Current Economic Conditions and receive every monthly issue as soon as it is published, contact robertfryeconomics@gmail.com. Robert C. Fry, Jr., Ph.D. Chief Economist, Robert Fry Economics LLC 302-743-8553 RobertFryEconomics@gmail.com, www.linkedin.com/in/robertcfryjr

For Pete’s sake ...


Novation’s AF3 WebFlagger can now apply different color flags to your web at the push of a button, so finding defects downstream just got a whole lot easier! Work safely, cut waste, save money and maintenance with the WebFlagger that set the industry standard.

STOP HAND FLAGGING The printing and converting industry standard in defect marking and tracking

NOVATION-INC.COM (610) 837-5026 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com



AIMCAL to celebrate 50 years at Executive Leadership program Conference will unite business-management talks, AIMCAL Awards, new Hall of Honor inductees March 24-25 at NASCAR site in Charlotte, NC. By Editor-in-Chief Mark Spaulding


IMCAL will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the new 2020 Executive Leadership Conference set for March 24-25 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. Along with conference presentations on communication, M&As, sustainable packaging, operational excellence, converting market forecasts and a 2020 global economic outlook, the 50th anniversary celebration (March 24) will unite the trade group’s annual AIMCAL Awards Ceremony and induction of the inaugural class of the new AIMCAL Hall of Honor. Following a networking cocktail reception, the award ceremony will honor AIMCAL Product of the Year, Technology of the Year and Sustainability competition winners. Then, the Hall of Honor induction will recognize those who have been integral to the success of AIMCAL and the R2R industry as a whole. The 50th celebration continues with a special event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where guests are invited to view NASCAR history and experience Executive Leadership Conference attendees can try out NASCAR race-car simulators during AIMCAL’s 50th anniversary race-car simulators. reception. Premiere keynoter “The Mayor” Jeff Burton, professional stock-car racing champion and NBC Sports analyst, will kick off the conference on Tuesday evening, discussing the “Role of Communication in Building HighPerformance Teams.” Known by fans, competitors and media as “The Mayor,” Burton has worked closely with NASCAR on a range of safety improvements. Among the other keynotes: Mary Ann Bartels of Merrill Lynch Global Research will speak on “Economic Analysis and 2020 Outlook;” Jonathan White, MD of Mazzone & Associates, will address “M&As in the Value Chain of Converted Web Products;” Corey Reardon, president/CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates, will cover “Paper, Film, Coating, Laminating & Converting Market: Industry Outlook & Future Expectations;” Kyla Fisher, program mgr. at AMERIPEN, will provide insight into “Sustainable Packaging Trends;” and Phil McIntyre, MD at Milliken, will talk on “Achieving Operational Excellence through Health & Safety.” An optional dinner and team competition at Top Golf will wrap up the program on Wednesday evening. 


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Details At A Glance

WHAT: The new 2020 AIMCAL Executive Leadership Conference includes presentations on communication, M&As, sustainable packaging, operational excellence, converting market forecasts and a 2020 global economic outlook. The AIMCAL 50th Anniversary Celebration on March 24 features the annual AIMCAL Awards, induction of the inaugural class of the new AIMCAL Hall of Honor and a special reception in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. WHEN: Tuesday, March 24-Wednesday, March 25, 2020 WHERE: NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, NC FEES: AIMCAL member $550; member spouse $50; sponsored non-member guest of AIMCAL member $550; Top Golf outing & dinner networking event $75 ORGANIZER: Assn. of International Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators (Ft. Mill, SC) MORE INFO: 803-948-9470, fax: 803-948-9471, email: aimcal@aimcal.org, www.aimcal.org/2020-executiveleadership-conference.html


2020 R2R Conference Europe shifts to Valencia, Spain Biennial AIMCAL program working with AIMPLAS (the Plastics Technology Centre) to offer short courses, research tours, dozens of technical presentations. By Editor-in-Chief Mark Spaulding


fter a string of successful programs in Prague (Czech Republic), Cascais (Portugal), and Dresden and Freising (Germany), the 2020 AIMCAL Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Conference Europe shifts to sunny Valencia, Spain, this spring. Set for May 18-21, 2020, the event is being co-organized by AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre. Over the years, these AIMCAL conferences have proven to be especially valuable for industry professionals to learn from and network with leading consultants and suppliers from around the world. Session tracks on solution web coating/laminating & web-handling; and vacuum-web coating will cover a wide range of technologies to improve efficiencies, address problems, reduce waste and bring state-of-theart, “best practices” to the plant floor. Attendees are free to move between the tracks of dozens of different technical presentations to whichever talks hold the most interest. A series of short courses will precede the program on May 18.

Sunny Valencia, Spain, will host the AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe on May 18-21, 2020, co-organized with plastics technical-research center AIMPLAS.

Similarly arranged like the 2019 R2R Asia program, this year’s main technical sessions will be held at the AIMPLAS Conference Ctr. in Valencia, and the nearby Hotel Mas Camarena will host the tabletop exhibitions and receptions. AIMPLAS research & development focus AIMPLAS is listed in the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness’s Registry of Technological Centers. It is a nonprofit association, which coordinates research, development and innovation projects and provides analysis and testing, technical assistance, training, and competitive and strategic intelligence services for companies in the plastics industry. AIMPLAS serves a dozen different sectors that all apply plastics for global solutions in the entire value chain. Among them are packaging, automotive, agriculture, aerospace, recycling, construction, electronics, health, printing, energy and raw materials. In the key field of packaging, AIMPLAS works to improve food safety, sustainability and functionality while reducing food waste and environmental impact. 

Details At A Glance

WHAT: AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe 2020 presents two tracks of technical sessions on solution web coating/laminating & web handling, and vacuum web coating. Dozens of presentations, short courses, networking opportunities, research center tours and two tabletop exhibitions/receptions are offered. WHEN: Monday, May 18-Thursday, May 21, 2020 WHERE: AIMPLAS Conference & Training Ctr. and Hotel Mas Camarena in Valencia, Spain ORGANIZERS: Assn. of International Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators (Ft. Mill, SC); and AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre (Valencia, Spain) MORE INFO: 803-948-9470, fax: 803-948-9471, email: aimcal@aimcal.org, www.aimcal.org/2020-r2r-europeconference.html, +34-96-136-6040, www.aimplas.net 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com



Spring 2020 Events At-A-Glance Converters Expo 2020 2020FLEX

WHAT: Four-day technical conference and two-day tradeshow on the latest developments in flexible, printed electronics and sensors. Agenda includes two technology short courses on Feb. 27; two keynotes on Feb. 25; and various networking receptions. Twenty session topics range from displays, applications, manufacturing and materials to sensors, hybrid electronics, printing, substrates, metrology and emerging technologies. A highlight will be the 2020 FLEXI Awards ceremony on Feb. 26. WHEN: Monday, Feb. 24-Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 WHERE: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, San Jose, CA ATTENDEES: 750 expected EXHIBITORS: About 60 ORGANIZERS: SEMI, FlexTech Alliance, MEMs & Sensors Industry Group (Milpitas, CA) FEES: All-In Combo pass: $1,240 members, $1,735 nonmembers, $349 student; expo-only pass: $50 members, $75 nonmembers MORE INFO: 408-943-6900, www.flex.semi.org

Gravure Global Summit 2020

WHAT: Two-day international conference on technical and management leadership in the global gravureprinting industry with the theme, “Gravure: Leading Today, Transforming Tomorrow.” Session topics include a Brand Owner presentation; a review of packaging trends in biodegradable, compostable and recyclable materials and inks; a preview of drupa 2020 and why you should attend; a review of safety & environmental regulations; using educational partners such as UW-Stout Graphic Communications Program; an update on the GEF Endowment; Prof. Robert Eller’s update on gravure transformation research; and more. Also offered will be the Global Marketplace tabletop exhibition. WHEN: Wednesday, March 11-Thursday, March 12, 2020 WHERE: Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans, LA ORGANIZER: Gravure Assn. of the Americas FEES: $600 (GAA member), $800 (non-member) MORE INFO: 201-523-6042, gaa@gaa.org, www.gaa.org


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

WHAT: One-day tradeshow dedicated to converting and webprocessing machinery, equipment, accessories, components, materials and consumables; and converting companies (bags, films, flexo printing, laminating and nonwovens). Networking events include a Welcome Reception at the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame on the evening of April 29; and a Buffet Lunch and Happy Hour on April 30. A tour of Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC) facilities, with live demos of the Fusion C printing press, is available on the afternoon of April 29. WHEN: Wednesday, April 29-Thursday, April 30, 2020 WHERE: Lambeau Field Atrium, Green Bay, WI EXHIBITORS: About 120 ORGANIZER: BNP Events FEES: $65 before March 13; $100 after March 13 and onsite MORE INFO: 610-436-4220, ext. 8514, meetings@packstrat. com, www.convertersexpo.com

interpack 2020

WHAT: Seven-day trade fair for the entire value chain from the converting and production of packaging raw materials to packaging machinery, finished materials and containers for companies in the food, beverage, confectionery, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and industrial markets. Special highlight includes the “Life Without Packaging?” one-day conference on May 12, which examines packaging, sustainability and the environment from different, controversial perspectives. VISIT: AIMCAL and Converting Quarterly in the North Entrance Hall, Stand A04. WHEN: Thursday, May 7-Wednesday, May 13, 2020 WHERE: Fairgrounds, Düsseldorf, Germany EXHIBITORS: About 3,000 ORGANIZER: Messe Düsseldorf GmbH FEES: Day ticket 67 Euro; three-day ticket 125 Euro MORE INFO: 312-781-5180, info@mdna.com, www.interpack.com 


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Flexible Packaging Special Market Report

2020 Quarter 1 Despite plastic-waste disputes, flex-pack industry well positioned to grow in every category in US ........... 32 Flexible plastic packaging in the circular economy..... 36 Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion enhancement of cast-film systems................................ 42 Benefits of in-register pattern metallization ................. 48 Troubleshooting and defect reduction in web-coated products.................................................... 52

Official Publication of the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators

Flexible Packaging Special Market Report Co-produced by AIMCAL & FPA


he global flexible-packaging market is perhaps the most colorful and creative field in the converting industry. And by some estimates, it will grow to represent $303.2 billion in value by 2024. In the first of our new Special Market Reports for 2020, we offer an overview of flex-pack market demands & legislative developments, as well as four technical papers covering breakthrough technologies by leading industry experts. —Mark A. Spaulding, editor-in-chief


020 will continue to bring opportunities and challenges to the flexible packaging industry, given the continued growth of this truly sustainable packaging type and the current anti-plastic sentiment that prevails. The Flexible Packaging Assn. (FPA), in its 70th year, represents converters and suppliers to the industry, with four primary pillars – Advocacy, Promotion, Data and Networking. FPA will continue to strive for workable legislation regarding end-of-life management for packaging, particularly flexibles. Ongoing work in sustainability, including lifecycle analyses of flexible packaging vs. traditional packaging types and support of efforts to increase recovery and recycling of flexibles in the US, will be a primary focus of FPA in 2020 to enhance our advocacy of the industry at the state and federal levels. FPA will have a new publication, Flexpack VOICE™, with which to promote the industry with data and content for members, customers, policymakers and consumers. And, new research on transitioning to flexibles from other packaging types will be released. FPA looks forward to promoting and protecting the industry in the new decade. —Alison Keane, FPA president and CEO


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1


s AIMCAL embarks on our 50th year, we celebrate the history and dedication of our members, volunteers and contributors. On behalf of the AIMCAL staff, we are thankful for the opportunity to serve and celebrate with you. Looking ahead, our core industries continue evolving, presenting us with new opportunities, and in some cases, new challenges. AIMCAL enters 2020 focused on continuing our efforts to educate, connect, and grow the converting industry. This issue is the first in our series of Special Market Reports where we showcase the vast markets, end uses, and people across the converting industry. We kick things off with Flexible Packaging where laminated and metallized structures enhance performance and support new applications. We are honored to partner with The Flexible Packaging Assn. on this project. You’re encouraged to learn more about FPA’s sustainability and advocacy initiatives as they support growth across the industry. —Chris Kerscher, AIMCAL executive director

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Despite plastic-waste disputes, industry well positioned to grow in every category in the US By Alison Keane, Esq., CAE, IOM, president and CEO, Flexible Packaging Assn. (FPA)


he last several years have shown a slow but steady antiplastic sentiment, and, in 2019 in the US, we saw several legislative initiatives that purported to curb â&#x20AC;&#x153;single-useâ&#x20AC;? plastic waste. But, not all plastic is created equal, and legislation introduced around plastic waste actually includes all packaging types, regardless of material. In the meantime, the flexiblepackaging industry is projected to grow in every category, including in every segment of its largest category â&#x20AC;&#x201C; food (see Figure 1). So, how is FPA addressing two seemingly opposing outlooks for 2020 and beyond?

A $31.8 billion force for good Flexible packaging currently is the fastest-growing segment of the packaging industry â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at 19% â&#x20AC;&#x201C; just behind corrugated containers at 22%. Flexible packaging is defined as any package or part of a package whose shape can be readily changed. It includes packaging made with paper, plastic, film, foil, metallized or coated paper and film, or a combination of any of these materials. The flex-pack field is a $31.8-billion industry, employing 79,000 people in the US across approximately 950 manufacturing facilities.

FPA believes it means that even with the challenges of plastic pollution and marine debris, the industry is well positioned to continue to grow in the US because of â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and not in spite of â&#x20AC;&#x201C; its environmental sustainability. At the same time, end-of-life management of flexible packaging must be solved, both in terms of packaging design and recovery infrastructure, to address consumer demands and consumer product groupsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and retailersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; published sustainability goals.


A recent FPA survey of consumer and brand-owner perceptions of the sustainability of packaging revealed that 86% of consumers care about sustainability in general; 83% say they understand the meaning of sustainability; and 65% think sustainability is at least a very important attribute of packaging for products sold in-store and online. Further, 82% of consumers say they care about the sustainability aspects of packaging; 79% say they prefer products that are in sustainable packaging over ones that are not; and 72% say they trust labels that include sustainability benefits on product Flexible Packaging Industry By End-Use Market packaging. So sustainable packaging (breakdown percent of total $31.8 billion) matters to consumers (see Figure 2). %HYHUDJH ELOOLRQ







FIGURE 1. US flexible-packaging industry breakdown by end-use market


www.convertingquarterly.com â&#x20AC;˘ 2020 Quarter 1

The survey also found that younger generations are more likely to understand and define sustainable packaging as considering all lifecycle benefits, rather than simply end-of-life benefits, such as recyclability. In fact, millennials said itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s extremely important or absolutely essential that product packaging has a sustainable lifecycle, including that it is manufactured with less energy and has been transported efficiently. Flexible packaging, including flexible plastic, goes even further with reductions in water use, greenhouse-gas emissions, product-to-package ratios and materials to landfills.

Case-study comparisons So, FPA developed case studies to show the difference between flexible packaging and traditional packaging when it comes to environmental benefits, particularly when speaking to brand owners looking to transition their packaging (www.flexpack.org/sustainablepackaging/lca-case-studies/). We also launched a new Website, www.perfectpackaging.org, to tell the sustainability story in ways a consumer or policymaker could more easily understand the science behind flexible-packaging innovations and why so many consumer products companies (CPCs) have transitioned to it. And, we started a platform for conversations on social media, particularly with younger consumers, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. New case studies on ecommerce packaging will be released this year, and an influencer program will be undertaken to push the message out further. In one case study, where the difference between plastics easily was seen, FPA detailed the difference from an environmental-lifecycle standpoint of flexible standup pouches for laundry detergent pods vs. rigid PET containers. The use of single-dose pods has become a popular method for packaging laundry detergent, replacing liquid or powdered detergent with pre-measured dissolvable packets. When it came to the lifecycle aspects of water use, greenhouse-gas emissions and fossil-fuel consumption, the standup pouch won hands down. In fact, even when considering current US recycling rates for PET, which is readily recyclable, the rigid PET container results in nearly 4X more material ending up in the landfill than the flexible pouch (assuming zero recycling for the pouch). Legislative, regulatory advocacy & action Our work does not stop with outreach and education on flexiblepackaging sustainability aspects, however, as end-of-life management of flexible packaging is of upmost importance given current CPC and retailer sustainability goals, as well as the demand from consumers and legislators regarding recovery and recycling of packaging. As stated earlier, 2019 showed the most significant amount of attention to date in the US around packaging, particularly plastic packaging and single-use plastics, with bills in four states and a concept outline at the federal level; and while none of the bills were passed last year, all will be back in 2020 (see Table 1). To better advocate on behalf of the industry, FPA established key advocacy points and used them at both the federal and state levels to steer the conversation and suggest improvements to legislation, thus providing real solutions. Under FPA’s policies, any packaging legislation 1) must address infrastructure needs first; 2) should look at the entire lifecycle of the packaging and not just its recyclability or compostability; 3) should treat waste-to-energy (WTE) as a viable option, at least while more advanced technologies are brought to scale for packaging waste; 4) should use funding for new infrastructure and not just reimbursement for current recycling; and 5) must involve the consumer, to bring about meaningful change. A key development in 2019 was the progress made with a bill introduced on recycling infrastructure, titled “Realizing the Economic continued on page 34 

FIGURE 2. Buying into sustainability 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Outlook  continued from page 33

Opportunities and Value TABLE 1. 2019 legislative activity impacting flexible packaging of Expanding Recycling Issue Bills States Detail Act (RECOVER CA, CT, ME, MA, NJ, NY, VT 11 7 EPR Act).” As part of a CT, HI, IN, IA, MA, ME, MS, MO, NJ, NY, OR, WA broad coalition that Labeling 31 12 worked to draft and AL, FL, ID, MN, MO, ND, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WV Pre-emption 18 12 get the RECOVER Act introduced, FPA supports AR, CA, CT, FL, HI, IA, MA, ME, NJ, NY, OR, TN, TX, VT, Recycling 31 16 WA, WV the Act as we believe a suite of options is needed AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, Plastics MD, MA, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NH, NJ, NY, NC, 263 38 to address the lack of OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV infrastructure for flexibleCT 2 1 Solid waste packaging materials in the US. Investment in AZ, AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, MD, MA, Toxic chemicals ME, MI, MN, MS, NE, NH, NJ, NY, ND, NC, OH, OR, PA, 228 34 that infrastructure is RI, TN, VT, VA, WA, WI, WV necessary before new CA, IA, KY, MA, MS, NJ, RI, TX mandates and unrealistic 9 8 Other goals are set for both AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, TOTAL producers and consumers IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, 593 46 ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, and before short-sighted UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV bans are imposed. Current infrastructure is not adequate to process even the readily recyclable packaging seek to solve the lack of recycling infrastructure and end-markets that is being produced, let alone the flexible packaging that has for flexible-packaging waste. emerged over the last two decades. The RECOVER Act will address the need to expand domestic recycling infrastructure and Two others, Californians for Recycling and the Environment create end-markets, diminishing the need for Extended Producer (CRE) and a dialogue facilitated by the Product Stewardship Responsibly (EPR) legislation at the federal or state level. Institute (PSI), are specific to packaging legislation and lobbying on behalf of FPA polices. CRE is a grassroots effort in California, Movements on the state level which ran parallel with the legislation, but unlike our traditional At the state level, 2019 started with an ambitious EPR bill for lobbying efforts (working with the sponsors and staff on the packaging in Washington State, followed by a report in Rhode legislation itself), CRE was focused on consumer education and Island by the Governor’s Task Force to “Tackle Plastics” and outreach. PSI represents state and local government agencies, a bill in California for specific rates of municipal solid-waste dealing with solid-waste issues, and it attempts to find consensusreduction, recycling and composting by specific dates, which based solutions that benefit both sides. Educating government producers would have to meet to continue selling their products participants on the environmental benefits of flexible packaging and packaging in the state. and various ongoing projects to provide for its end-of-life is a key component to avoiding product bans. The California bill (Senate Bill 54/Assembly Bill 1080) went farther than any plastic and packaging legislation last year and Conclusion any programs to date in Europe or Canada. Finally, in Maine, the FPA encourages the entire supply chain to join in the legislature passed a resolution to study EPR for packaging, which conversation. To keep the outlook for flexibles bright, we need resulted in a conceptual model for a packaging EPR system good science, and we need to articulate that science in an easy designed to be introduced in 2020. and meaningful way. Let’s start arming consumers, CPCs, retailers and policymakers with the truth about the environmental As FPA continues to believe that there will not be just one benefits of flexible packaging, including plastics. Without solution to packaging-waste issues, we continue to pursue this effort, truly sustainable and lifesaving plastic packaging multiple programs/platforms that will help our members in may indeed be sacrificed for less environmentally beneficial the debate. Two of our continued infrastructure projects, alternatives.  the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) (www. materialsrecoveryforthefuture.com/) and the Hefty® EnergyBag® More info: www.flexpack.org Program (www.hefty.com/hefty-energybag/hefty-energybagprogram), are ongoing, as well as a new partnership with the University of Florida and its Advanced Recycling Center. All


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Flexible plastic packaging in the circular economy By Pierre Sarazin, Ph.D., dir.-R&D, PolyExpert, Inc., and Emma Sarazin, Business Administration student Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from presentations at the AIMCAL R2R USA / SPE FlexPackCon 2019 conferences, held in Myrtle Beach, SC, in October 2019, titled “Flexible Plastic Packaging Sustainability: Will the Industry be Ready for 2025?” and “Flexible Food Packaging in the Context of Circular Economy.” Abstract In the last few years, the concern about plastics use has been rising within the growing environmental responsibility of the public. Following that same mindset, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been working for more than a decade on the development of a new model of economy, more respectful and responsible for our environment: the “Circular Economy.” In 2017, the Foundation started to address this issue by evaluating the problem of plastics, draw conclusions and propose actions to “Rethink plastics.” In October 2018, the Global Commitment was unveiled to create a concrete circular economy for plastic materials. The following article firstly aims at presenting the concept of circular economy and relates it to present work in the plastic industry, and secondly aims at arousing curiosity to dig deeper and generate a new creative mindset in flexible packaging.

information accessible to consumers about its use, particularly for retail goods. This resulted in unfair attacks toward food packaging, especially in Europe and Canada, and thus motivates education efforts to address key issues such as: 1) The reason why plastic packaging is present at each stage of the food-processing value chain; 2) The serious consequences for the food supply without its packaging; and 3) The environmental cost of replacing plastic with another packaging type and material. If consumers point out instances of overpackaging in food, communication would be key to address the misunderstanding around the presence of the packaging and be able to provide a better packaging based on those consumers’ observations, if needed. Based on our knowledge, we find food-overpackaging examples to be very rare as the problem usually is caused by an inappropriate application of the packaging instead of the packaging itself – for example, unskinned fruits in a plastic container. In fact, plastics tend to be the scapegoat for many environmental issues due to the visibility of its waste, disassociated from its real effect on global climate issues. As R. Stafford and P.J.S. Jones argue, “Plastic pollution has been overemphasised by the media, governments and ultimately the public as the major threat to marine environments at the expense of climate change and biodiversity loss.” [1].

There are more serious and Everybody agrees that ocean plastic pollution is a concern urgent threats than plastic pollution oncerns about the use of plastics and the environmental that needs to be addressed – and should have been a long time issues regarding its disposal have been rising within the ago, as the situation was known and monitored for more than public opinion. The last two years have demonstrated the Circular economy: Linear economy: “Flows like a river” * “Like Like a lake” lake * delicate position to which the plastic industry has been confronted in response to this new concern from Raw Materials consumers. The industry suddenly felt vulnerable and unprepared for this outcry, Dispose Residual Waste even with the supporting presence of serious studies showing the benefits of * From Walter R. Stahel, Circular Economy, 2016, Nature 531, 435-438 plastic packaging. This confusion about plastics arises from the lack of FIGURE 1. Circular Economy: A new relationship with our goods and materials



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1. Inseparable layers (13%): innovate 2. Uncommon materials (EPS, PS): replace 3. Small format (lids, caps, sachets): redesign 4. Takeaway food packaging: scale up compostable plastics

Bottles, carrier bags, e-commerce packaging, pallet wraps, large rigid packaging…

Share of market by weight

1. Design changes to improve recyclability (materials, formats) 2. Harmonise / Adopt best practise for collection and sorting 3. Improve recycling processes 4. Improve collection & sorting infrastructures 5. Implement policy measures & regulations

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The New Plastics Economy: rethinking the future of plastics & Catalysing action, 2017. http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications

FIGURE 2. Identifying a concrete set of priority actions 30 years. However, the authors are convinced that “there is considerably less evidence of its effects at a planetary, ecological or toxicological level.” The elimination of single-use plastics might be positive – and we need facts to measure the extent of the progress achieved by this elimination – but it will not mitigate climate change. The authors explain that Earth faces several major anthropogenic environmental threats caused by overconsumption of natural resources by a growing population. Changes in practices and policy pushed by anti-plastics campaigns fail to address the root cause of those environmental issues. They argue that “ocean plastic pollution has created a convenient truth to distract environmental policy from more serious and urgent threats.” To summarize, it is true that without action on plastics we might have more plastic residue than fish in the ocean by 2050, but we might not have any fish at all in the seas if drastic worldwide actions are inefficient to reduce overfishing itself and to slow climate changes, which, for example, incrementally reduce the oxygen in ocean water. However, having this sort of global view is not an excuse to remain passive regarding plastic pollution. The flexible plastic industry must increase its efficiency to act on the sustainability of the products and services it provides. The industry has to be flawless on the design and manufacturing of plastic packaging as it has the potential to do so. The flexible-packaging industry soon could be a model for sustainability in other industries. Circular economy: “River” vs. “lake” approaches The circular economy is a concept that emerged in the 1980s and initially was elaborated by Walter R. Stahel, who illustrated the fundamental differences with the current linear production system. As stated by W.R. Stahel [2], “a linear economy flows like a river, turning natural resources into base materials and products for sale through a series of value-adding steps. At the point of sale, ownership and liability for risks and waste are

passed to the buyer (who now is owner and user). This economy is driven by a “bigger-better-faster-safer” syndrome. On the other hand, a circular economy is “like a lake” (see Figure 1). All the products manufactured ultimately will stay in the “lake” after use. The concept is built around the idea that goods have unlimited value, echoing nature’s own system in which there is no concept of waste [3]. Materials used for a certain product can be reused, recycled, repaired and/or remanufactured back into other goods. Instead of following the traditional linear path of extracting resources, creating a product and disposing of it once its useful life has expired, circular economy focuses on giving multiple lives to goods. One key idea is to replace initial production of goods by what can be called secondary production, namely, everything done to extend the service life of the goods, such as repairing, remanufacturing, recycling, etc. – practices which, in theory, require fewer resources and less energy. This mechanism is referred to as “closing loops,” meaning that materials see no end to their service life: Once their main useful life is over, the goods serve as resources for other products, thus creating an endless loop. The focus shifts from creating cheap and disposable goods to long-lasting ones, contrasting profoundly with the current economic system. The performance economy concept goes even further by focusing consumption on services to use the goods instead of buying them. The ownership of products in this model stays on the production side, thus giving incentive to manufacture longlasting goods. Michelin is an example of that, selling tires “by the mile” to vehicles’ owners [2]. This type of model echoes in many ways the principles of sharing economy, characterized by the coordination of shared goods – for instance, cars and houses – on diverse platforms. The attraction of a circular economy is further demonstrated by showing benefits simultaneously at continued on page 38  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Sustainability  continued from page 37

an economic, environmental and social level. Moreover, the model offers high perspectives for creating new employment opportunities. In this light, circular economy sounds like the ideal low-carbon model on every angle. However, one of the main uncertainties of circular economy, addressed by T. Zink and R. Greyer [4], is to what extent the “closing the loop” process is realistically better. A cyclic flow does not automatically ensure sustainability and could have a serendipitous effect, which Zink and Greyer named the “circular economy rebound.” This rebound refers to the backfire of the circular model by an increase in production and demand for goods, hence leading to additional environmental impact. Part of this rebound effect comes from the extent to which the “closing the loop” model is applicable to all goods and services. It also is hard to predict consumers’ reactions to extended product lifespan. Our current economic model encourages overconsumption by presenting cheap and attractive goods corresponding to seasonal or yearly trends. A circular model thus necessitates a change in individuals’ consumption behavior to favor use of long-lasting, second-hand and recycled goods. The body of literature on the topic is reaching a boiling point, and some references are full of insights, such as the book by Ken Webster [5] and the last work written by W.R. Stahel, released in June 2019 [6]. This latter one, for which the working title has been for a long time “Circular Economy for Beginners,” is essential to understand the concept of circular economy. Rethinking the future of plastics According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation [7], product design is at the root of waste and pollution prevention. Around

80% of environmental impact comes from decisions made at the design stage of a good. In 2016/2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation proposed actions to “Rethink plastics” [8], among which companies working in flexible plastic packaging can find a lot of potential avenues to improve design and recyclability (see Figure 2). The report recommends innovation for products based on inseparable layers. A good example concerns the multilayer films needed for barrier performance. In October 2018, the New Plastics Economy (NPE) Global Commitment was unveiled to “offer a root-cause solution to plastic pollution with profound economic, environmental and societal benefits,” defining the circular economy by six characteristics (see Figure 3). So far, more than 400 organizations, counting among them more than 200 businesses representing over 20% of all the plastic packaging used globally, are part of this common vision. Flexible-plastic structures certainly are the most suitable to improve packaging sustainability while maintaining functional performance. The signatories’ commitments, split into five categories, then were reported in June and October 2019 [9] (see Figure 3). In our AIMCAL R2R USA / SPE FlexPackCon 2019 presentations, we focused on major CPG, Retail & Hospitality companies for their responses based on the June report noted above. We can see the declared will to take action on specific resins and alternatives for some problematic plastic packaging (see Tables 1-2). Will the industry be ready for 2025? So far, it is hard to say after just one year of the NPE Global Commitment. We are expecting more from the committed organizations, and future progress data will determine if we truly see a change. continued on page 40 

Individual responses of the reporting signatories for the 6 categories below:

FIGURE 3. New Plastics Economy Vision


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Protects the Flexible Packaging Industry )3$LVKDUGDWZRUN ) LV GD






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FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Sustainability  continued from page 38

TABLE 1. Eliminate problematic plastic packaging RESIN & STRUCTURE CHANGES




• • • • •

Phase out PVC quickly PS, EPS, PVdC, coloured PET also targeted Eliminate oxo-degradable Alternative to incompatible multilayers Alternative to black plastics or detectable black

• • • • • •

Eliminate plastic bags Alternative to plastic straws Food compaction Eco-design Optimize packaging in e-commerce Decrease packaging weight

• • • • •

Phase out PVC, PVdC, EPS Prohibit the use of oxo-degradable Convert shrink wrap to LDPE Reduce / eliminate fossil-based plastics Convert plastic to paper & cardboard (bag closure, blister)

• Reduce single-use plastic bags; Replace by reusable / paper / biodegradable shopping bags • Charge for plastic bags • Phase out plastic in straws & disposable items, plastic cutlery, cotton swabs • Identify / reduce unnecessary packaging for fruits & vegetables • Remove non-recyclable for organic fruits/vegetables • Reduce packaging use for fresh products (ex: cheese plastic trays) • Reduce the thickness • Alternative solutions for food trays and structural packaging • Re-design

always is a win-win situation to focus on sustainability. Indeed, it is important that the supplier itself, to the best of his or her knowledge, understands and is convinced that the suggested solution will be the best on the sustainability value for the customer. In this way, the client is not only buying a product, but also the whole service aiming at making that product more environmentally responsible.

A package of solutions The sustainability in flexible plastic packaging is a work TABLE 2. 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable in progress, with a lot of tangible actions taken only RESIN & STRUCTURE CHANGES OTHER ACTIONS recently. Ellen MacArthur • Recyclable paper bags • Phase out or be able to convert opaque PET Foundation’s NPE Global • Eliminate caps, labels • Develop a recycling stream for PS CPG • Eco-design • Recycle PP and use rPP Commitment is clearly an COMPANIES • Make plastics out of pyrolysis feedstock & chemical recycling • (Compostable) impressive accelerator of the • Eliminate multilayers mindset. The solutions are • Printing with vegetable-based ink (carboard packaging) • Transition from PS, PVC, black plastic in real-time development, • Replace plastic trays by PET or cardboard trays to recyclable materials RETAIL & even though we cannot HOSPITALITY • Use monomaterials where possible • PP bakery bags to home-compostable COMPANIES • Plastic collection cellulose bags determine so far which ones • Home compostable will emerge in a lasting way. New Plastics Economy Global commitment – June 2019 Report, 235 pages, June 17, 2019 It is both quite exciting and troubling to observe and act The packaging manufacturers aside, a lot of concrete action in this paradigm shift that looks like a “sustainable technologies currently has been taken in North America by a multitude of bubble” where there will be winners and losers in that quest for stakeholders, such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition sustainability. (SPC) [10] and one of its projects, How2Recycle [11], and some retailers, such as Walmart (we certainly are missing a lot of Five years ago, who would have thought that metallized films exceptional players and apologize for omitting them). Walmart would provide recyclable, high-barrier packaging, as claimed recently introduced a new version of its Sustainable Packaging today by Celplast Metallized Products, Ltd.? Who would Playbook, a concrete initiative to support its suppliers [12]. Such have thought that recycling by selective dissolution or by global commitments can translate into practical strategies for depolymerization would be so seriously considered? According companies of all sizes. to a report prepared by McKinsey & Company, nearly 60% of plastics production could be based on plastics reuse and recycling At our firm, a non-integrated blown-film manufacturing leader in by 2050, and nearly 30% of plastics production could be provided sustainability and certified EcoResponsible TM Level 2 (Ecocert), from recovered monomer and recovered feedstock [13]. The the first action is to describe the possible options to customers discussion will continue this year among several significant requesting a “sustainable solution,” and film design will start only conferences, including FPA, SPC, TAPPI IFPED, AIMCAL R2R when the full life cycle of the product clearly is identified (see / SPE FlexPackCon (see Events at www.convertingquarterly. Figure 4). In fact, it necessitates to consider each of the stages com). of the circular economy and understand what the preferable endof-life of the packaging product would be. In several cases, the The plastic industry in its entirety is step-by-step, making discussion needed to be shared and extended with the customers significant moves, but this change needs to be supported with of the clients. These clients could have concerns about disclosing more regulations, from which will stem more logistics and more those discussions or be reluctant to connect directly their supplier communication between companies partnering in the same loops. or with their customer, but ultimately experience shows that it It could with time reinforce the flexible plastics industry, with New Plastics Economy Global commitment – June 2019 Report, 235 pages, June 17, 2019


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978-0367200176, 118 pages 7. Ellen MacArthur Foundation website. https://www. ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/ circular-economy/what-is-theWhatt itt iss • For lowering energy consumption & carbon footprint: circular-economy told d to o thee 1. Reduce: for example, packaging downgauging for 8. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, similar or improved performance Customers The New Plastics Economy: 2. Reuse: limitations for food packaging; impact on rethinking the future of plastics freshness and food safety • Not a unique solution! & Catalysing action, 2017. http:// • The complete value chain of the packaging should 3. Recycling by melt processes: separation, cleaning, www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/ be examined compatibilization if needed, re-extrusion publications • The complete packaging must be examined • Compatibilization will lead to a new class of mix plastics containing barrier resins (EVOH, PA) in minor phases, with new properties: 9. June and October reports can • It will imply a change: process, aspect, cost… contamination for PE recycling stream? be downloaded at https://www. • Should be addressed: 4. Composting for niche applications • What is the end of life of the product? ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/ • If it was recyclable, could it be recycled? 5. Recycling by Selective dissolution or by our-work/activities/new-plastics• If it was compostable, could it be composted? depolymerization economy/global-commitment • What are the properties that could be changed? 10. https://sustainablepackaging.org/ • Converting the film: do you have room for process modification? goals/ • What would be the perception of the end-users? 11. https://how2recycle.info/ 12. Walmart Sustainability Hub’s resources: https://www. FIGURE 4. “Cradle to Cradle” for flexible food packaging walmartsustainabilityhub.com/ packaging-and-plastics/resources. The links for the last “Recycling playbook” (Oct. 25, 2019) and a full of new players entering the market – recycling technologies, liferelevant information are available there. cycle evaluation, etc. – generating more value with less waste 13. Report, December 2018. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/ and a reduced carbon footprint. It also could protect the North chemicals/our-insights/how-plastics-waste-recycling-could-transformAmerican market from new rules being enforced; for example, a the-chemical-industry minimum recycled content, or obligation to use a specific label – 14. EcoResponsible Program includes a series of strategies and tools to SPC’s drop-off label, Ecoresponsible certification [14]. support businesses or organizations looking to improve their sustainable development overall, and the certification is made by Group Ecocert. But, don’t forget: The industry needs to be attentive to the http://www.ecoresponsible.net/

proposed solutions and call them into question, in order that the globally adopted solutions are the best ones possible for society, the planet and future generations. We can see good ideas and not so good ideas. And today, we absolutely don’t know what the winning solutions will be at the end of 2025. 

References 1. Richard Stafford, Peter J.S. Jones, Viewpoint – Ocean plastic pollution: A convenient but distracting truth?, Marine Policy, 103, 187-191, May 2019, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0308597X1830681X & Pierre Sarazin, LinkedIn Article, Nov. 29, 2019, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ocean-plastic-pollution-has-createdconvenient-truth-distract-pierre/ 2. Walter R. Stahel, Circular Economy, 2016, Nature 531, 435-438 https://www.nature.com/articles/531435a 3. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Re-thinking Progress: The Circular Economy, video on YouTube, Aug. 28, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=zCRKvDyyHmI&feature=emb_title 4. Trevor Zink, Roland Geyer, 2017, Circular Economy Rebound. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21, 3, 593-602. June 2017, https:// onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jiec.12545 5. Ken Webster, The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows, Ellen MacArthur Foundation Publishing, 2nd Edition (Jan. 31, 2017) ISBN10: 0992778468, ISBN-13: 978-0992778460, 202 pages 6. Walter R. Stahel, The Circular Economy: A User’s Guide, Routledge Publishing, 1 edition (June 10, 2019), ISBN-10: 0367200171, ISBN-13:

Pierre Sarazin, dir.-R&D at PolyExpert, Inc. (Laval, Quebec, Canada), a Canadian leader in polyethylene blown-film manufacturing, is a member of SPE Flexible Packaging Division. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique Montreal, and is the co-author of 20 journal publications, several patents and patent applications. Sarazin has gained experience in bioplastics and then plastics along with an in-depth understanding of formulations tailored for various processing technologies. He also is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the CREPEC (Research Center for High Performance Polymer and Composite Systems, Quebec, Canada). Sarazin can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/pierresarazin. Emma Sarazin, a Business Administration student at HEC Montreal and at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), is aiming to contribute to sustainable development. She wrote an essay titled “Circular Economy: its Potential and Limitations” in December 2019. She can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/emmasarazin-138b60175/.

2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com



Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion enhancement of cast-film systems By Michael Ponting, Ph.D., co-founder & president, and Deepak Langhe, dir.-Energy Storage Technology, PolymerPlus LLC Editor’s Note: This technical paper is based on a presentation at the 2019 AIMCAL R2R Conference USA / SPE FlexPackCon, held in Myrtle Beach, SC, in October 2019. Abstract Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion processing incorporates tens, hundreds or thousands of alternating polymer layers in the envelope of traditional packaging films. The reduction of the individual polymer-layer thicknesses down to 25- to 50-nanometer range, through this specialized form of cast coextrusion, has enabled processors to produce films with unusual optical reflections, enhanced oxygen and/or watervapor barrier, and increased toughness. The following article describes the micro- and nanolayer coextrusion processing technology and the polymer-material selection criteria required for nanolayer uniformity. It also reviews polymer-structure, property-induced enhancements in layered-polymer film systems constructed of traditional polymer-packaging resins. 1. Introduction icro- and nanolayered films are comprised of two or more polymer materials highly ordered via coextrusion into parallel layered domains that range in individual-layer thicknesses from the single microns down to 10s of nanometers. As a result of these thin, individual-layer thicknesses, coextruded films’ internal layer counts increase from the standard 7-11 to 32 or more in micro- and nanolayered films. Increased development activity is possible due to more readily available commercial tooling suppliers and a growing base of demonstrated enhancements of film systems constructed from conventional, commercial polymer materials. To this end, micro- and nanolayered, coextruded cast-polymer films have been demonstrated at production scales ranging from laboratory and pilot line all the way to commercial-manufacturing systems processing films at 100s of mpm.

2. Micro- and nanolayer coextrusion process The combination of two or more polymer materials to enhance the overall composite properties has been studied extensively using various traditional processing techniques, including melt blending [1], block copolymerization [2,3] and multilayer coextrusion [4-7]. Micro- and nanolayering coextrusion is an advanced cast- or blown-film processing technique capable of continuous film coextrusion with tens to thousands of individual layers. Production of films with several thousand layers results in the reduction of individual-layer thicknesses from the micronscale down to as low as 25 nanometers. Nanolayer film production enables an opportunity to magnify the concentration of interfacial or confinement-induced phenomena



To highlight the technical performance advantage of micro- and nanolayered polymer films, this article first will review the cast coextrusion-processing approach and material-selection rules for coextrusion. Additionally, selected case studies in structureproperty performance of micro- and nanolayered material systems will be highlighted for optical, packaging and specialty film applications.

FIGURE 1. Convention coextrusion with one microlayered feed block (top); and a series of sequential-layer multiplication dies (bottom)

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blocks with greater than 20 layers, though not yet at thousands, and sequential-layer multiplication dies have been reported following the historical development path of cast-film coextrusion. Currently, multilayer-film lines are commercially available from many equipment manufacturers at varying numbers of layers including, but not limited to, Davis Standard, Macro Engineering, Alpha Marathon, Bandera and Windsor. 2.2 Viscosity requirement for coextrusion: When selecting polymer materials and formulations for micro- and nanolayer-film coextrusion trials, the relative viscosity behavior of the constituent polymer materials is a critical parameter to achieve layer uniformity in the final film. Polymer-material candidates for microlayer-coextrusion processing should be selected with a similar viscosity near the desired polymermaterial, coextrusion-processing temperature. When measuring and comparing the material rheological behaviour, selection of process-relevant shear rates is required. Though polymer materials are sheared and melted at a frequency greater than 100 s-1 in extrusion barrels and screws, the layering process occurs at a relatively lower-shear region (10-100 s-1 in the multilayer feed block and/or layer-multiplication flow channels.) A temperature dependent rheological measurement of polymer materials over this shear range and potential processing temperatures always should be examined prior to processing to ensure a viscosity overlap or near-match (see Figure 3) to maintain layer parallelism and continuity in the final produced material.

FIGURE 2. Coextruded cast-layered films after cryo-microtoming as they become dominant with a reduction of individual-layer thicknesses toward the macromolecular dimensions of the individual polymer materials [4,5]. The uniqueness of the nanolayered film-production process is in the combination of conventional coextrusion extruders with either a microlayered feed block [6] and/or with the addition of a series of sequentiallayer multiplication dies [7] (see Figure 1). The sequential-layer multiplier design case creates a highly flexible coextrusion process for producing polymeric films with tens to thousands of layers with simpler tooling changes for development and pilot lines. The micro- and nanolayered, single feed block approach is better suited for production environments where a material system, formulation and number of layers is known and higher production rates allow processing in large batch trials. The single feed block approach for instantaneous coextrusion of micro- and nanolayered structures also results in a higher individual-layer thickness uniformity (1-5% variation of layer thickness) as compared to the sequential-layer multiplication approach (5-15% layer thickness variation). A series of coextruded cast-layered films with increasing numbers of layers is shown in Figure 2. The figure displays microscope cross-section images of cast-layered film after cryo-microtoming. The 8- and 128-layer films were imaged using an optical micrograph, while the 4,096-layer film was imaged via an atomic force microscope (AFM). All films were polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)/polycarbonate (PC) multilayer films produced via nanolayer coextrusion via the sequential-layer multiplication approach shown in Figure 1. 2.1 Blown-film coextrusion for packaging applications: Though only previously discussed for cast-film processing, blownfilm coextrusion is extensively used to fabricate packaging film, much of which is multilayered to improve mechanical, transport, thermal properties as required by the food or medical industry. Research efforts, simultaneously conducted at The Dow Chemical Co. and Cryovac/Sealed Air Corp. [8], have resulted in process-technology advances to enable micro- and nanolayer coextrusion capabilities for blown-film processing lines. Development of blown-film coextrusion, multilayered feed

Though a precise threshold for how mismatched the polymermaterial rheology can vary is not fully understood, a first approximation limit of no more than (a) a 15° C difference in processing temperature and (b) a 1.5X difference in the relative material viscosity at the feed block or multiplier shear rate is recommended for processing trials. If rheological properties of the materials are not considered and matched prior to processing, the potential for a poor viscosity match can result in the lowerviscosity polymer encapsulating and/or forming a slip film between the higher-viscosity polymer and the multiplier-die wall [9,10]. Interfacially driven layer instability and breakup also may result during layer multiplication if the two polymer melt-streams possess a relatively large viscosity mismatch [11]. 3. Novel properties of microand nanolayered polymer films 3.1 First commercial applications: optically reflective films: The first realization of a commercial application of nanolayered film was published in the early 1960s. The first polymer films with tens or hundreds of layers were processed via a system continued on page 44 ď ľ 2020 Quarter 1 â&#x20AC;˘ www.convertingquarterly.com


FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Film Making  continued from page 43

of sequential-layer multiplying dies with two alternating glassy, amorphous polymers. The resulting layered films displayed bold, structurally induced optical reflections and physical coloring similar to that of the phenomena seen in butterfly wings in nature. These early nanolayered films, reported by Alfrey, et al. [12], were comprised of 201 repeating layers of two different polymer materials that possessed a significantly different refractive index (∆n= 0.1). Alfrey translated relationships previously used in inorganic, vapor-deposited Bragg crystals or “soap bubble FIGURE 3. Comparison of ideal viscosity match and off-set temperature match in in air” periodic layered systems multilayered-film coextrusion to describe the phenomena via a mathematical model so as to predict and formulate the optical appearance and color of the nanolayer led to a large drop, greater than 100X, for oxygen transport in films (see Figure 4). The model used polymer-material, refractive- polymers such as polyethylene oxide and polycaprolactone, and index information and layer thicknesses to calculate optical resulted in these conventional, commercial polymer materials reflection peaks due to interfacial reflections within the films. achieving gas barrier approaching barrier-grade Nylon material properties. The first applications leveraging the unusual optical reflection of coextruded micro- and nanolayered, polymeric Bragg crystal The mechanism for the reduction in gas permeation through films were nontechnical, consumer-decorative applications. the confined, layered polymer film can be attributed to an The technology was first licensed for production of decorative, increase in tortuosity of gas molecules diffusing through the optically reflective films [13-15] including gift paper, prismatic film. The intralayer crystalline phases of polymers, now shaped bags and top-coat films for lamination molding in the 1970s. in high aspect-ratio stacks of platelets oriented normally to Eventually, an additional sublicense for the optical micro- and the transport direction of the gas molecules, are typically nanolayered film was completed in the 1990s, leading to the considered impermeable to the diffusing permeant. This restricts technology eventually finding applications as a component in molecular-gas transport to mainly around the crystalline domains electronic monitors and displays as a polarizing and brightness in the polymer-layer, amorphous-phase gaps. The amount of enhancing film. Today, polymeric micro- and nanolayered crystallinity and lamellar orientation can be controlled by varying Bragg films are produced for architectural window coverings the layer thickness in the nanolayered films and controlling the and thermal reflectors via a similar approach [16]; however, the size and spacing of these gaps to reduce gas permeation through optical reflective bands for the material reside in the infrared the nanolayered polymer film. wavelengths. Published efforts have reported confinement of PEO lamellar 3.2. Current development thrust: Enhanced barrier for in 25-nm-thick layers to result in platelet-crystal growths consumer packaging: The micro- and nanolayer coextrusion with an aspect ratio much greater than 100 that suggest an approach to producing high oxygen- and water-vapor-barrier effective addition of micron-area barrier blocking crystals in films offers an additional opportunity to shift polymer-material the layered polymer film due to the confined crystallization morphology as a result of nanoconfinement in very thin layers. approach [18]. This phenomena of layer confinement for Nanolayered-film coextrusion processing [17] allows production increased oxygen or water barrier has been experimentally of multilayer films with thousands of layers with each layer demonstrated in several additional, semi-crystalline polymer thickness approaching the size scale of the radius of gyration of materials, including polycaprolactone, polyvinylidene fluoride, polymer-material chains. Restriction of semi-crystalline polymer high-density polyethylene, syndiotactic polypropylene and poly materials into these highly confined, nanolayered spaces has 4-methylpentene-1. Potential inclusion of this nanolayeringresulted in a change of polymer-crystallization behavior from a induced, barrier-enhancing mechanism also has been adapted 3D space filling crystal spherulite, into two-dimensional, high into biaxially oriented polypropylene and polyester films through aspect-ratio parallel platelets in the plane of the nanolayers (see inclusion of 10-20% of the previously described polymer Figure 5). This change in material-crystallization behavior has materials [19] for use in medical, food, electronic and consumergoods applications.


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3.3. In-development application: Energy-storage films: Advanced solidstate, electronic energy-storage capacitors have been demonstrated from films combining nanolayers of high electric breakdown strength and high dielectric energy storage polymer materials [20]. A synergistic increase in the electrical

breakdown strength of nanolayered polymer films resulted from delocalization of electrical charge across multiple film-interface layers that enable processing of films with energy densities up to 13.4 J/cm3. The nanolayer polymer-films structure enables the increase in polymer-film electrical performance through a combination of controlling electrical-damage propagation at the layer boundaries, a decrease in defect concentrations throughout the film that act as premature electric breakdown failure points and reduced electrical losses of the polymers as layers become thinner due to crystallization confinement of the nanoscale. Electrical breakdown properties of 12-μm nanolayered polymer films were characterized on 32-layer polycarbonate (PC)/co polyvinylidene flouride-hexfluoropropylene (PVDF-HFP) films at relative composition intervals from 0/100 to 100/0 (see Figure 6). PC was chosen based on its excellent insulating properties and high breakdown strength (Eb=850kV/mm) while PVDF-HFP was used for its high dielectric constant (εr=12). The dielectric breakdown strength of the nanolayered films was determined under quasi-homogeneous field conditions using a sphere-plane geometry at a ramp rate of 500 V/s, as previously described [20].

FIGURE 4. Multilayered films displaying optical reflections and physical coloring

FIGURE 5. Change in material-crystallization behavior yields a +100X improvement in oxygen barrier.

The nanolayered PC/PVDF-HFP films exhibited enhanced breakdown strength, compared to the neat polymers, at all compositions tested. Due to the synergies previously discussed from the layer confinement and interfacial boundary contributions, the resulting nanolayer-film energy density as high as 13.4 J/cm3 with a low loss factor (tan δ) was demonstrated for a 70/30 PC/PVDFHFP film sample. A mechanism for the enhanced electrical properties of the nanolayered films was related to the delocalization of the film input charge across the nanolayer boundaries in the plane of the film to spread the local breakdown occurrences in the film and maintain electrical utility. The 250% increase in the electrical breakdown of the nanolayered films over the neat polymer-control films was attributed to this delamination and failure indicative of the nanolayered film breakdown. Current conversation of these nanolayered materials into higher energy density, high operating temperature (140° C vs. current 85° C BOPP stateof-the-art) capacitors is in progress with initial prototype data for 250-μF-sized capacitor work funding by the Office of Naval Research and the US Dept. of Energy. Target application space for continued on page 46  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Film Making  continued from page 45

these higher-performance capacitors include pulsed power, electric vehicle and hightemperature applications. An additional advantage of increasing nanolayered PC/ PVDF energy density to ~5-13 J/cm3 over the current 2-3 J/cm3 of the BOPP state of the art is a potential reduction in filmcapacitor volume by a factor of 2X or greater as the nanolayered-film thickness is reduced to match that of the current BOPP and BOPET parts. Conclusions Micro- and nanolayered coextrusion is a 50-year-old technique gaining traction in commercial film production. Reflective optical properties distinct to the nanolayered structure are commercialized. New discoveries, including nanolayer confined semi-crystalline polymers for food and medical packaging and high-temperature, energy-storage film capacitors, are examples of higher value-added properties in nanolayered films. 

FIGURE 6. Electrical breakdown properties of nanolayered polymer films

Acknowledgements Research was supported by the NSF Science and Technology Grant DMR-0423914. Dielectrics technology work was supported through ONR award no. N00014-12-M-0096 and DOE EERE award no. DEEE0007211. Layering processing studies supported through ARL cooperative award W911NF-17-2-0080. References 1. Paul, D.R. and Bucknall, C.B., Eds. Polymer Blends, Vol. 1. Wiley 2000. 2. Hamely, I.W., Fairclough, J.P., Terrill, N., Ryan, A., Lipic, P., Bates, F., and Towns-Andrews, E. Macromolecules. 29 (1996) 8835-8843. 3. Bates, F. and Fredickson, G.H. Annual Review of Physical Chemistry. 41 (1990) 525-557. 4. Liu, R.Y.F., Bernal-Lara, T.E., Hiltner, A., and Baer, E. Macromolecules. 37 (2004) 6972-6979. 5. Liu, R.Y.F., Bernal-Lara, T.E., Hiltner, A., and Baer, E. Macromolecules. 38 (2005) 4819-4827. 6. U.S Patent 6,905,324. “Interface Control,” Cloeren, 2005. 7. Ponting, M., Hiltner, A., and Baer, E. Polymer Nanostructures by Forced Assembly: Process, Stucture, and Properties. Macrmolecular Symposia. (2010) In-press. 8. US Patent 9,481,143. “Multilayered structures having annular profiles,” Dow Chemical Company, 2016. U.S. Patent Application 2011/0229701. “Multilayered active oxygen barrier film comprised of a plurality of microlayers,” Cryovac Inc., 2011. 9. Michaeli, W. Extrusion Dies for Plastics and Rubber: Design and Engineering Computations. Hanser Publishers (1992). 10. Dooley, J., Viscoelastic flow effects in multilayer polymer coextrusion, Ph.D. Thesis, 2002. 11. J. Zheng, T.P. Lodge, C.W. Macosko, J. Rheology. 50 (2006) 41-57. 12. Schrenk, W.J., and Alfrey Jr., T. In Polymer Blends Vol. 2. Academic Press (1978) 129-165.


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13. US Patent 4,310,584. “Multilayered light reflecting film,” Mearl Corp., 1979. 14. US Patent 5,008,143. “Decorative objects with multi-color effects,” Mearl Corp., 1991. 15. US Patent 4,643,943. “Multi-layer polyolefin shrink film,” Cryovac LLC., 1985. 16. US Patent 7,632,568. “Solar control multilayer film,” 3M Innovative Properties Corp. 2005. 17. Wang, H., Keum, J.K., Hiltner, A., Baer, E., Freeman, B.D., Rozankski, A., and Galeski, A. Science 323 (2009) 757-760. 18. Ponting, M., Lin, Y., Keum, J.K., Hiltner, A., and Baer, E. Macromolecules. 43 (2010) 8619-8627. 19. Carr, J.M., Langhe, D.S., Ponting, M., Hiltner, A., and Baer, E. J. Materials Research. 27 (2012) 1326-1350. 20. Wolak, M.A., Pan, M.J., Wan, A., Shirk, J.S., Mackey, M., Hiltner, A., Baer, E., and Flandin, L. Appl. Phys. Letters. 92 (2008) 113301-3.

Michael Ponting, co-founder and president of PolymerPlus LLC (Valley View, OH), holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. He has served as the lead scientist and primary investigator during PolymerPlus’ 9+ years of operation while serving as a PI on several US DoE- funded, multilayered-materials technology development programs in optics and in broader applications of micro- and nanolayered systems. Ponting has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, conference papers and five patents related to the production and structure-property relationships of multilayered polymer-film systems. He is a member of SPE and OSA (Optical Society of America). Ponting can be reached at 216-264-4818, mponting@ polymerplus.net, www.polymerplus.net.

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Benefits of in-register pattern metallization By Fabiano Rimediotti, vacuum technologist, Nordmeccanica N.A., Vacuum Div. Abstract Selective, or pattern, metallization produces metallized substrates with metal-free areas, resulting in a variety of graphic effects. It is done by “masking” the incoming metal vapor by means of a special oil applied on selected areas of the film substrate with a dedicated flexographic-printing process. A very recent innovation is registration control, enabling converters to metallize on a previously printed film accurately matching the graphic motifs. This article will illustrate and discuss the main process features, the quality performance and the potentially vast variety of applications, ranging from decorative, functional and “smart” packaging to security and flexible electronics. Introduction etallized films represent an important segment among the materials and technologies that make up the flexiblepackaging sector. More than one million tonnes are produced each year for a value in excess of US$3 billion. Most of these metallized films contribute to the protective properties required for food packaging. There are, however, many other applications with lower volume – but often with higher added value – in which the unusual characteristics of metallized films represent


FIGURE 1. Examples of pattern metallization


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a key functional or aesthetic attribute. It is the case of selective metallization, which represents a particular variant of the classic metal-deposition process under high-vacuum conditions and allows producing areas with no metal on an otherwise metallized film. For this reason, it also is called “pattern metallization” or “window metallization.” The absence of metal in certain areas (“windows”) allows the customer to see the product directly, or writings and graphics of any kind can embellish the packaging or give it a more personalized look. Pattern metallization represents a more ecological and more economical alternative to traditional de-metallization that consists of the removal of metal by chemical processes, which has had and still has an important place in the areas of safety, anticounterfeiting and the packaging itself. The next sections briefly describe the process and its most recent variant – the so-called “in-register pattern metallization,” which combines traditional printing and selective metallization to produce products of great visual impact and combinations used in security products. Examples are shown in Figure 1. Selective metallization: The process The principle of selective metallization can be described as an “oil masking” process. As the simplified schematic in Figure

represents the “impression cylinder,” supporting the film as the printing plate is pressed against it. In this flexo unit, the oil delivery to the anilox roll is done by evaporating the fluid from the heated oil tank. The very low pressure at which the whole process works allows the use of low temperatures and guarantees minimization of the oil entering the process chamber. A more detailed description of “oil masking” principles can be found in Reference 1. Pattern metallization is not a new process: It has been used by filmcapacitor metallizers for almost 20 years. Its introduction to other industrial sectors, such as flexible packaging or security, is more recent and still relatively rare in the vacuummetallizing industry.

FIGURE 2. Schematic of pattern-metallization process 2 shows, it consists of the in-line application of a special oil by means of a printing unit placed immediately before the film entering the metal-deposition zone. The oil’s sudden evaporation prevents the metal vapors from reaching the film’s oil-printed areas, leaving clear and high-definition structures. A patternmetallized unit is, therefore, a printing station installed in the vacuum chamber, with the traditional ink replaced by a special oil characterized by purity and chemical stability. The most commonly used oils belong to the family of fluorinated polymers. The system consists of a three-roller flexo-printer design with an enclosed doctor blade and a tank for the oil containment: 1) an engraved anilox roll for the fluid transportation and dosing to the printing roller, 2) with a mounted relief plate or sleeve, and 3) the process drum of the metallizing machine, which

Pattern metallization “represents a more ecological and more economical alternative to traditional de-metallization that consists of the removal of metal by chemical processes.

Registration control in selective metallization The most recent development is selective metallization with registration control, which allows vacuum metallizing on a previously printed film (see Figure 3). This greater system versatility opens opportunities to extend its use to a more universal range of enduse applications. The registration control is represented schematically in Figure 2. It uses the same concept as a multiple-color printing press; that is, an optical sensor detects the misalignment between the two marked positions of the printed and metallized film. The registration error is automatically and continuously corrected by acting on the printing-roll system to finely synchronize the printed and the metallized pattern. The optical sensor can be complemented by a video web-inspection camera to visually check registration accuracy. Although printing-press multiple-color registration is a wellestablished technique, its application inside a vacuum chamber presented a number of challenging issues, requiring special designs and solutions:  All processing takes place in a closed and inaccessible space, and all adjustments must be made by remotely controlling speed and positions from instrument signals. It is, in fact, only by starting metallization at a certain speed that the position control can be operated by reading of registration marks. It requires a fast and accurate predictive positioning to minimize waste materials.  Metallization is a thermal process, and the possible effects on film must be controlled to avoid deformation with the continued on page 50  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


FLEXIBLE PACKAGING Metallization  continued from page 49

FIGURE 3. Printed and pattern-metallized film


consequent negative impact of graphic reproduction. Graphic definition is achieved by means of a controlled, “masking-oil” application, tuned to the amount and type of metal evaporation. Moreover, registration accuracy depends on the position and motion control of the flexo-printing system governing the oil application on the film.

In-register pattern metallization: Printing quality In terms of accuracy and definition, the indicative features of selective metallization graphic properties are described below and represented in Figure 4. Print resolution: In selective metallization, this represents the minimum thickness of a line or of a representative graphic item, which is detectable, measurable and has a reasonable width uniformity. Process capability is about a 50-micron line width (+/-5.0). Repeat length: Represents the space between two successive and corresponding images, which is determined by the printingroll diameter. It is crucial that the repeat length is consistently maintained along and across the web, controlling the possible web deformation due to heat and tension. Length tolerance is typically +/-0.20 mm. Registration tolerance: This characteristic represents the ability of the selective-metallization registration control to track the previously printed-film graphic pattern. Being the most innovative part of the project, this feature is being tested and qualified for multiple patterns, including multiple-color printed and embossed film. Indications are for a tracking accuracy of +/0.30 mm in both directions. Current applications and future opportunities The fact that in-register pattern metallization can be used


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consistently on industrial equipment can extend the opportunities for using this technology to replace chemical de-metallization and be considered for new applications on a roll-to roll (R2R) basis. Current uses are for decoration and brand signatures in flexible packaging or with the production of security features for anti-counterfeiting, document verification and currency protection. Metallizing with different metals, in particular copper, can add color effects to the toolbox for creating multiple graphic structures. Another potential use of pattern metallization will be for flexible electronics, such as integrated circuits, RFID tags and transistors, parts of flexible displays and many other applications, currently in rapid growth mode. They often include miniaturized conductive tracks of different shapes and complexity. From the traditional etched, metal-foil laminate, the advantage of producing large quantities of electronic devices is driving the path to R2R printed electronics using conductive inks. Pattern metallization can be a more efficient and less expensive alternative to existing technologies. If thin metallic films,

Registration error is corrected “automatically and continuously by acting on the printing-roll system to finely synchronize the printed and the metallized pattern.

80 μ

FIGURE 4. Pattern metallization registration control characterizing the traditional vapor-coating process, can result in a too-poor conductor for most of electronic-product requirement, in-register pattern metallization makes it possible to deposit metal in successive steps with exact pattern replication, building up a thicker and more conductive track. Conclusion The recent setup of an industrially proven process of pattern metallization with registration control opens new opportunities for more widespread use of this technology, due to creating multiple combinations of ink printing and aluminum or copper metal coating. Beyond the realm of flexible packaging, future developments could involve products as cutting-edge as components for flexible electronics. A complete analysis of the possible advantages of vacuum deposition as an alternative to traditional processes is certainly worthwhile.  Reference 1. Pagani, A. and others, Pattern Metallized Film: State-of-theart and Growing Opportunity, SVC Technical Conference, 2007. Fabiano Rimediotti, vacuum technologist for Nordmeccanica N.A., Vacuum Div. (Hauppauge, NY), holds a university degree in Chemical Engineering and has spent most of his professional career in the field of vacuum technology, in particular vacuum metallization. He worked for 25+ years with Galileo Co., specializing in the design and construction of vacuum metallizers for flexible packaging and other applications. He has been with Nordmeccanica since 2014. He can be reached at 631-242-9898, email: rimediotti@nordmeccanica.com, www.nordmeccanica. com.


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Troubleshooting and defect reduction in coated products By E.J. (Ted) Lightfoot, Ph.D., principal consultant, Ted Lightfoot LLC

Abstract Troubleshooting means different things to different people at different times. Managing well-understood defects in an established product is different from dealing with poorly understood defects that arise unexpectedly or with a new product. This article discusses three strategies for troubleshooting product issues and which strategies are most appropriate in what context. Introduction here are many kinds of trouble, and many useful ways to classify defects. But, there are two basic scenarios for troubleshooting a product: You may be faced with known defects, and you may be faced with defects you have never seen before. The optimal strategy for troubleshooting is different for the two cases.


Known defects Every product and every process has its signature defects. Extruding a pigmented resin is likely to produce plate-out – which may never be seen if the same resin is extruded without pigmentation. Die coaters – whether extrusion coating or solution coating – are more prone to particle streaks than gravure coaters. Most operations track yield loss to common defects in a Pareto chart. One goal of the R&D phase is developing operating conditions that avoid as many defects as possible. However, most soldout processes operate at an intersection of multiple constraints: Any subtle variation is likely to produce defects (or variation in product properties). Thus, a second goal of R&D is to provide the operations staff with a troubleshooting guide for defects endemic to the product. This guide should specify a sequence of corrective actions, starting with actions operators can take on their own initiative and progressing to actions that require supervisory authorization. For example, on observing particle streaks, an operator may clean the die face. If that does not work, the coating head is retracted to clear the slot. If that does not work, the filter, raw materials or die may be changed – but these require supervisory approval. Operators responding to a known defect may not think of themselves as “troubleshooting,” as in troubleshooting is engineers talking, and corrective action is operators fixing things.


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But, this is a false distinction. All successful troubleshooting ends with a corrective action: What varies is how much analysis and how many unsuccessful actions are necessary before the problem is resolved. It is helpful to position simple corrective actions as part of troubleshooting so all attempts at corrective action are documented and the cost of each episode is documented. All commercial products ran “defect-free” at some point. For you to be troubleshooting, something must have changed. With well-developed products and well-maintained processes, the majority of troubleshooting should be associated with changes in raw materials. Therefore, the primary need for troubleshooting in standard production is the ability to track what changed, when it changed and how that correlates to the incidence of defects. The greatest advance in coating quality over the past four decades is the proliferation of on-line defect detection. These systems (either laser-scanner or camera-based) provide virtually 100% inspection of the coated product and have rendered the concept of “defect-free” film obsolete: Every roll of film has a finite level of numerous defects (i.e., the number of gels or white specks per thousand sq meters). The definition of when defects occur becomes statistical in nature: When does the defect count become unusual? Fortunately, on-line detection gives more rapid and objective notice of shifts in the defect count than visual observation. However, there are three limitations to on-line inspection. First, it is easier to map localized discrete defects than it is large defects (i.e., streaks or patterns that cover the web). Second, inspection systems must be trained to recognize and distinguish different defects (i.e., you must set mathematical criteria to distinguish a gel from a white speck). That makes on-line inspection far more useful for known defects than unknown defects. Finally, the statistics of defect counting are fundamentally different from the statistics encountered with property variations (following a Poisson rather than a Normal distribution). This can lead to incorrect conclusions from statistical tests (most commonly false positive indications). Unknown defects Anyone who has spent time around a coating line has had a chance to react to a sudden onset of a defect no one (local) has seen before. These are expected in the R&D phase but also occur

TABLE 1. Basic defect classification scheme Attribute Geometry Manifestation Map location Depth

Categories Space filling (pattern) Thickness variation



Regular repeating Top of coated surface


Same as bulk



Detection geometry



First detectable


Other visual Lane

Coated layer (which?)

Lower interface



Oblique Transmission (dark field)

Sudden Coating

unexpectedly in routine production. R&D should be responsible for documenting any new defects that occur in scale-up, as well as major excursions seen in production. The strategy for managing the unknown is quite different from managing the known. While it is helpful to classify known defects by a common name, assigning a descriptive name to an unknown defect often hinders troubleshooting more than it helps. The natural response to a new defect is to find out if others have faced this defect, and the obvious way to do that is to look at published troubleshooting guides [1-2]. While some progress has been made in standardizing terminology, it still is common to see people chasing the wrong defect because they use different terminology than the troubleshooting guides. In the worst cases, people chose a name from a troubleshooting guide for the root cause or specified corrective action they want (thus exonerating the operation by implicating the raw-material vendor). The safest way to approach an unknown defect is to begin by classifying the defect functionally (see Table 1). Often localizing where and when the defect occurs can provide enough information to solve the problem. For example, a contaminant that suddenly appeared at the interface between the coating and the base after a roll change almost certainly is caused by dirty base and usually will be solved by cleaning the base or changing to a lot of clean base. Performing the analysis necessary to classify the defect per Table 1 becomes the primary procedure that can resolve most defects. However, it is not uncommon to encounter defects that require extensive technical work to mitigate. These are best addressed in a longer-term, defectreduction program. Defect-reduction programs Defect-reduction programs are expected in scale-up of new products, but they also are initiated by the business in response

Start-up Drying


Nonplanarity Random

Ingredient in the mix

Transmission (bright field)


Spot / shape


Coversheet Contaminant None Reflection Sporadic Off-line testing

to the needs documented in a Pareto analysis. The key to significant reduction in defects is to address the mechanism of the defect. There often are multiple levels of understanding, and, at each level, new control actions may become apparent. The most efficient way to determine the mechanism is to adopt a systematic procedure of listing possible mechanisms (guided by the classification scheme in Table 1) and testing to see which is at play. Usually this involves measuring the effect of process variables on defect generation. Experimentation on a production machine can be expensive, particularly statistically designed experiments. The reason to base the experimentation on hypothesis testing is to segment and reduce the number of factors being considered in each experiment. This is best illustrated by example. Microscopic thin spots or holes in a wet coated layer could be bubbles in the coating or blisters made in drying. The first test should be to determine if the bubbles are present in the coating or are generated in drying. If the answer is drying, then the quickest mitigation plan is to slow down the line until the defect disappears. This might be a good screening test, but it is an undesirable solution. Blisters are most likely to occur in the transition from constant-rate to falling-rate drying. The higher the concentration gradients in the coating, the earlier that transition is likely to take place and the more the formation of blisters can be spread into later zones. One strategy for mitigating blisters is to map the effects of temperature in different drying zones at different line speeds. This may provide enough insight to enable preparation of a troubleshooting guide, but it does not provide the guidance of a validated drying model. If a simple thermodynamic model (ignoring diffusion) can accurately predict where the transition from constant rate to falling rate occurs, that will provide more precise guidance over a wider range of line speeds than plant tests, and it may predict blisters well enough for practical purposes. But, if diffusion is a significant factor (it usually is with continued on page 54 ď ľ 2020 Quarter 1 â&#x20AC;˘ www.convertingquarterly.com


 continued from page 53

All commercial products “ran ‘defect-free’ at some Raising the bar on quality since 1979

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point in time. For you to be troubleshooting, something must have changed.

blisters), thermodynamic models will not be reliable. Models that account for diffusion can be expensive and require external resources. However, it is not uncommon to see a robust drying model give precise enough predictions to enable a 50 to 100% increase in productivity without causing craters. The goal is to get the understanding you need to reliably control the process – no more, but no less. Conclusions The key to effective troubleshooting is being clear about what you know and what you do not know. If you know how to detect and manage a defect, the best strategy is to follow a (validated) troubleshooting guide. However, when faced with uncertainty, the best strategy is to document what you know and what you are assuming as you test those assumptions. Once you reach an effective control action for the defect, that action – along with any residual uncertainty – should be documented in the troubleshooting guide.  References 1. E.B. Gutoff and E.D. Cohen, Coating and Drying Defects: Troubleshooting Operating Problems, 2nd Edition, New York: John Wiley and Sons (2006) 2. E.J. Lightfoot, “Extrusion Coating and Lamination Defects,” Ultimate Web and Roll Troubleshooting Guide, R. Duane Smith, Ed., Atlanta: TAPPI Press 2013

E.J. (Ted) Lightfoot, Ph.D., is the principal consultant at Ted Lightfoot LLC. He worked for DuPont for over 35 years in the photographic business, casting, coating and laminating fluoropolymer and optical films (as well as some emerging technologies that remain proprietary). His experience in R&D, plant support, as a Six Sigma Black Belt for Growth and application development (helping customers develop processes and structured products) gives him a balanced perspective on what it takes to build a robust supply chain. Lightfoot is a consultant, writer, speaker and teacher of short courses. He can be reached at 716-449-4455, ejl@TedLightfoot.com, www.TedLightfoot.com.

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Dynamics of dispersing blades By Daniyel Firestone, president, Norstone, Inc.

Editor’s Note: The following paper won the 2019 John Matteucci Award for Technical Excellence for Web Coating at the AIMCAL R2R Conference USA 2019 in Myrtle Beach, SC. Abstract Most manufacturing processes require mixing and/ or dispersing of liquid products at some time in the manufacturing process. The operation of mixing and/or dispersing can be a critical step, at times determining if the final product is a success or failure. Most operators using blades to mix and disperse have not been informed about how to choose the optimum blade, how to set up the tank for optimum performance or how to best operate the blade for maximum results. This paper will review the differences between mixing and dispersing, general rules for optimum mixing, general rules for optimum dispersing, blade styles for mixing and blade styles for dispersing.

 Polyblades with teeth ................................. 4,500-5,500 fpm  Ring blade .................................................. 5,800-6,000 fpm The ideal setup of the tank for dispersing should be such that the liquid level of the tank should equal the diameter of the tank with a dished bottom (see Figure 1). While the ideal, most plants must work with the tanks that they have. A specific blade design could be chosen to help optimize the dispersing process in a less-thanideal tank. In addition to blade speed, blade size also is critical with relation to tank diameter. Each style has an optimum diameter-to-tank ratio:  Steel blades, low to medium viscosity ....33% tank diameter  Steel blades, medium to high viscosity ...50% tank diameter  Polyblades, low viscosity ........................25% tank diameter

Dispersing enerally speaking, a dispersing blade is a blade that fits onto a disperser that is built to run at high speeds, forming a vortex and creating shear on the surface of the blade. The blades are flat and bolt onto the shaft using a center bore with pins/bolts or a center bore with a keyway sandwiched between stiffening plates. They can be found with welded collars and set screws being placed on mixers rather than dispersers, but this can be very dangerous. They can be found with center bores and no pins or keyway, but there is nothing to prevent the blade from spinning unless there is a strong compression-plate type fitting.


Most dispersing blades are designed to run at a 4,000- to 6,000fpm tip speed, which is calculated based on the blade geometry of 1/3 diameter of the tank and 1 hp/10 gals with the diameter of the tank being equal to the height of the liquid. There are a number of different types of dispersing blade styles. Various styles have different optimum tip speeds. It is important to understand the blade type being used and whether the goal is to disperse or mix on a disperser. To calculate tip speed: Take the Blade Diameter divided by 12; multiply by 3.14; multiply by shaft RPM.  Steel tooth-style dispersing blades ............ 5,000-5,500 fpm  Steel tooth-style dispersing with pumping ............................................ 4,000-4,500 fpm  Steel tooth-style with low-shear pumping .................................... 4,000-4,500 fpm  Polyblades without teeth ............................ 4,000-4,500 fpm


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FIGURE 1. Placement of dispersing blades which cannot pump, 50% of the blade diameter off the bottom. Pumping dispersing blades should be placed 66% of the blade diameter off the bottom.

FIGURE 2. Proper placement and speed of the blade should provide a vortex that appears to be a rolling donut without the blade exposed past the area where it meets the shaft.  Polyblades, medium viscosity.................28% tank diameter  Polyblades, high viscosity................. 33-50% tank diameter  Ring blade ......................................... 25-40% tank diameter Each style has an optimum height position in the tank:  Steel blades ................................. ½ blade dia. off tank floor  Steel pumping blades ...... 2/3-1 blade dia. off the tank floor  Polyblades ........................ 2/3-1 blade dia. off the tank floor During operation, the blade should never be exposed more than where it meets the shaft during the rolling donut-type of vortex (see Figure 2). Keep in mind the following: 1) Dispersers require approximately 1 hp/10 gals for viscosities up to 2,000 cps. The higher the viscosity, the more power is required; this can be either in terms of speed or torque. The higher the speed, the lower the torque and vice versa; 2) They should be centered in the tank or just slightly offset; 3) Baffles cause an interference and should not be used with dispersers.

The saw-tooth style blade is “the most commonly used highshear blade, and [it] can keep air entrainment to a minimum.

FIGURE 3. Dispersing blades are flat and need to be secured to the shaft with a keyway, pinholes and/or center bolts that go through the shaft. Stiffening plates also are required to prevent flexing and the holes from stretching.

Disperser shafts should be centered in the tank or just slightly offset. Swirling is not an issue with dispersing blades. Disperser blades use a vortex to feed the shear zone of the blade. Baffles cause an interference and should not be used with dispersers. For dual-shaft dispersers that have a center-mounted scraper blade, the disperser blade is forced to be placed on the side. This handicaps the dispersing process both due to the placement of material to the side but also due to the reduced size of the blade needed to fit into that space. The scraper blade helps by feeding the material to the blade, but in this situation, it is that much more critical to choose the correct style of blade; i.e., a blade that can both disperse and pump efficiently. Critical accessories for dispersers would be:  Stiffening plates are needed for steel blades to control a fluttering effect during high shaft speeds to delay fatigue.  Stiffening plates are needed for plastic blades to prevent the holes and keyway from stretching (see Figures 3-4).  Blade guards are very important for steel blades (see Figure 5). In many applications, especially abrasive ones, the teeth and other edges on the steel blades can get razor-sharp. Guards are important to prevent personnel from getting continued on page 60  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


MATTEUCCI AWARDS Web Coating  continued from page 59

FIGURE 4. Stiffening plates

FIGURE 5. Blade guard to prevent personnel from moving sharp steel blades

FIGURE 7. Polyblade without teeth cut during times when the machine is idle and the blade is exposed to operators and maintenance personnel. One of the many benefits of polyblades is that they do not sharpen with wear and thus remove a safety hazard from the plant. Saw-tooth blades: The saw-tooth style blade is the most commonly used high-shear blade (see Figure 6). It is an excellent shearing blade and can keep air entrainment to a minimum. However, it does not do a good job of pumping and can get very sharp with use. The blade and teeth can bend if a heavy product is dropped on it or it hits the tank sidewall, and bent teeth will not perform as well as aligned teeth. This style blade can be made in various thickness gauges and also be hard-coated for longer life. Price-wise, it is the least expensive style and consequently is the most popular but not necessarily the optimum for the process. Steel blades: For processes requiring steel blades, there now are many different styles to consider. There are blades that can shear and cut, blades that can shear and pump, blades that are low-shear that pump and blades that can aerate. Polyblades: A new and growing group of dispersing blades is the polyblade, which has numerous benefits (see Figures 7-8). These were originally designed for abrasive products and products sensitive to metal contamination. Customers who prefer polyblades state that the No. 1 reason is safety because the blades


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FIGURE 6. Saw-tooth style blade

FIGURE 8. Polyblade with teeth do not sharpen with use. Additional benefits are as follows:  High shear with excellent pumping  Dual-sided and can be turned over when the initial side wears  Last far longer than steel blades, sometimes 2 to 20 times  Teeth can’t bend nor can the blade itself  There are many designs, some that run cooler than steel blades  Available in many polymers depending on solvent and temperature requirements  Can run at slower speeds and still be quite effective  Available on a free trial basis up to 16 in. in diameter  Available in a one-sided design for reduced air entrainment Mixing Mixing is a much simpler process than dispersing with fewer variables. A mixing blade is a blade that fits onto a mixer with a collar and set screw. It is built to run at low to moderate speeds, creating an axial and/or radial flow to provide good blending of different products, prevent product from settling, transferring temperature from a tank jacket or keeping products in solution. Mixing blades do not require stiffening plates, and they cannot fit onto dispersers. Unlike dispersing blades, they work well in tall tanks and can be stacked onto the shaft to ensure efficient mixing from top to bottom.

               Mixing blades are designed to run at approximately 1 hp/100 gals. Depending on viscosity, the blade can be 25% to 50% of the tank diameter and made to pump up or pump down. There are a number of different types of mixing-blade styles. Various styles create different flow patterns, so it is important to understand the possible patterns to choose the proper blade. They also operate at different speeds and viscosities.

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Shaft location for mixers can be placed in the center or offcenter. When centered, there is the potential for swirling where the material runs around the outside of the tank, and thus does not mix the product. This can be prevented with the addition of baffles. ď Ž


Daniyel Firestone, president and owner of Norstone, Inc. (Bridgeport, PA) since 2000, holds a Bachelor of Science from Temple University and an MBA from Humboldt State University. She has 27 years of experience working with particle-size reduction, grinding, dispersion and mixing equipment and media. Norstone is the inventor of the polyblade with teeth and radius scoops. She enjoys consulting with customers on the topics of blades, media, milling, mixing and how to improve the manufacturing process. She can be reached at 267-246-3416, email: daniyel@norstoneinc.com, www.norstoneinc.com.





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Roll-to-roll coating of flexible materials: Program focus on “Technology Cross-Over” By Charles A. Bishop, Ph.D., C.Eng., principal., C.A. Bishop Consulting, Ltd.

Introduction he ProFlex series of technical conferences is held at the Fraunhofer Institute, FEP, in Dresden, Germany, every three years and is part conference and part advertisement for the research carried out by the institute. This year, the focus was on “Technology Cross-Over,” and to highlight this theme, the roll-to-roll (R2R) coating conference started with an optional afternoon tutorial given by FEP personnel. The talks highlighted a selection of the individual technologies that need to be combined to make some of the newer, challenging electronics products.


This report will be my view of what I think were the highlights of the two days of presentations. If anyone wants to see the full list of papers, they are listed on the Website www.fep.fraunhofer. de/proflex, and access to the presentations may be purchased by email from events@fep.fraunhofer.de. Many of the newer products – such as photovoltaics, flexible organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), elecrochromics, flexible electronics and barrier coatings – require a mixture of different technologies to achieve the end result. This might include atmospheric wet coating along with vacuum coating and lamination to achieve all of the functionality required in the end product. Along with technology cross-over, many of the papers also included references to sustainability, the circular economy and recycling. Presentation summaries The presentations were split between large research and development companies or institutes, equipment suppliers and some end users. To start the proceedings was a presentation by Ralf Fellenberg of VDI Materialsogiezentrum GmbH, a contract research laboratory. The laboratory highlighted a study done in 2017 about the relevance and prospects of surface technologies for the economy. In the area of vacuum-deposition processing, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), laser processing and atomic layer deposition (ALD) were deemed to be most important for the future. Of these, most emphasis was placed on ALD as the key future technology. Other work was being done on developing


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alternative materials, such as those to replace tungsten oxide in electrochromic devices. In other technology areas, work was being done to make improvements on gravure printing by using plasma processing for wetting, adhesion and improved resolution. Developed was a high plasma-density source to reduce line widths to help better quality of security printing. Elsewhere in printing, it was suggested that there was not a big market for 3D printers but a large requirement for 3D inks. Another research topic investigated was combining biological materials with conventional materials to produce new materials. Digitalization, which was defined as the better use of data to develop theoretical models and simulations, was viewed as a key competence. Good quality modeling can clarify what real knowledge is known about a process, as well as enable the testing of process changes while minimizing machine time. Eco-improved flexible packaging Following this, Dr. Vicent Martinez Sanz of AIMPLAS talked about the organization’s work on sustainability, the circular economy, reduction of food waste and lower environmental impacts. Too many modern packaging materials are made up of multilayers combining different polymers, making them difficult to separate and recycle. It was pointed out flexible packaging is estimated to take up only 1.6% of landfill space but it still is worth reducing. The aim is to change flexible packaging from a linear-economy chain to a circular-economy chain where the end is recycling and re-use. This is directed at meeting the European Union directive that by 2030 sorting and recycling has to be increased four-fold over 2015 levels. The specific project being undertaken is to replace virgin material by recycled materials into multilayer, barrier flexible packaging. By multilayer, this does not mean multi-polymer but instead aiming for homo-polymer multilayers, such as virgin-recycled-virgin layers as per some coextruded, blow-molded bottles. Coextrusion and thermoforming are critical processes that can promote diffusion of contaminants, and AIMPLAS used supercritical carbon dioxide as a way of removing volatiles, including odors. This is done by bubbling the

supercritical CO2 through the polymer and then later removing the carbon dioxide by vacuum extraction of the melt stream or as part of the extruder. Keeping on the sustainability topic, the paper following was from Prof. Lorenzo Pastrana of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL). Starting with the same EU directive for 2030 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and supporting this with the premise that with the increase in e-commerce expected to reach 20% of the food market by 2025, the use of plastic bags will increase unless there is a viable alternative â&#x20AC;&#x201C; INL is proposing a wider use of paper packaging. Its aim has been to overcome problems associated with paper â&#x20AC;&#x201C; poor mechanical properties, particularly when wet, and the high permeability to liquids. By using nanofibers, nanostructures or nano-layers of cellulose and combining various structures such as cast, electro-spun or micro-fibrillated cellulose, modified properties can be obtained. The functionality can be customized to obtain antimicrobial properties and, by using structure, hydrophobicity can be improved as well as increasing mechanical and barrier properties. These improvements will enable paper to compete with petroleum-derived packaging materials and so help meet the EU directive.

Good quality modeling can â&#x20AC;&#x153;both clarify what real knowledge is known about a process as well as enable the testing of process changes while minimizing machine time.


Transparent conductive layers Changing topics, Takayoshi Saitoh of Nippon Electric Glass Co., Ltd. presented details on how transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) can be improved by either increasing the substrate temperature during deposition or by post-deposition annealing of the indium tin oxide (ITO). Using thin flexible glass and wrapping it around a heated quartz roll for as little as 1 second in a controlled atmosphere (hydrogen, nitrogen or oxygen) at a temperature of between 300-600o C can reduce the resistivity by almost a decade by increasing the carrier concentration. The continued on page 64 ď ľ





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VACUUM COATING ProFlex 2019  continued from page 63

quartz roll is heated to ~800o C, but the ITO reaches a reduced temperature due to the difference in emissivity. Using the hightemperature quartz tube enables fast annealing that is quicker and more efficient than using a linear oven-annealing process. A competing technology to TCOs, which was presented at the last ProFlex conference, appeared in two papers at this event. The first was in the paper by Dimitri Kossakovski of Iglass Technology, Inc., where metal mesh was being used as the electrodes on flexible substrates in the manufacture of redoxbased electrochromic windows. The redox chemistry allows for some customization of the color. The electrodes were a randompatterned metal mesh made up of electrode traces 0.50 microns thick by 2 microns wide. These are not as good as ITO and can have an issue with increased haze but then are more flexible. The flexible electrochromic is produced R2R and then is cut with one option into strips down the web that are subsequently butt-jointed together to make a much larger window size. Although this does give a much easier route to manufacturing windows of many different sizes, it does have a weakness: the butt joints. It is very difficult to seal the joints to prevent moisture or oxygen ingress, which degrades the chemical reaction, making the joints very much more visible and aesthetically displeasing.

packaging is estimated “toFlexible take up only 1.6% of landfill space but…it still is worth reducing.

A third paper was about the manufacturing of the metal-mesh electrodes. This time, the presentation was by Christoph Hunger of Paperfabrik Louuisenthal GmbH. The core technology uses a printed dispersion that, as it dries, cracks open in a random pattern as the coating shrinks. The substrate then is metallized, and the original cracked coating is removed. This leaves behind the metal tracery that is a few microns apart. This metal-mesh structure is thinner than can be obtained by nanowires and, if the structure is filled in and smoothed by using a conducting polymer, it can have a visible light transmittance of ~92% and be more flexible than metal oxides. The next step is to further increase conductivity by using a graphene in-fill coating as the smoothing layer. Going back one manufacturing step further to the substrate, we then had Valentijn von Morgen of DuPont Teijin Films (DTF) present details of the company’s peelable clean-on-demand film. So many applications need to have a good barrier coating, and to produce this, the coating needs to be defect-free, which, in turn, requires the substrate to be free of any surface contamination at the time of coating. The most secure way of achieving this is to use the coextruded film and peel off one layer immediately before the coating zone so there is the least amount of time between peeling and coating in which the substrate surface can be contaminated. It also has found that not only does the film surface need to be clean, but there also are advantages in the film being smooth. The presentation went on to show the range of film options that can be obtained by combining coextrusion with in-line coating and additives. Examples included the control of the refractive index of primers at the surface to optically match the downstream coatings and work to eliminate iridescence. Recent developments include improved UV and hydrolysis lifetime, flame-retarding, as well as the heat-stabilized, low-haze, low-oligomer, high opticalclarity films. Slightly more unusual is the moldable-PET film that makes use of the chemical stability and flexibility of PET that has been developed to also match the formability of polycarbonate normally used for molding. Inspection and gauging I find it interesting that every few years someone produces a new vacuum gauge. Over my working life, I have seen a few produced, but most have not gone on to become the gauges of


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first choice. Dr Klaus Bergner of VACOM presented a new gauge design that looks to be a worthwhile option, but time will tell. The gauge works using a modified Bayert Alpert gauge designed to trap ions and then release them after a short collection time. Using the ion current and the accumulation time, the pressure can be measured. The collected ions are accelerated to a detector, and so the different gasses arrive at different times, depending on mass. This time-of-flight route to the Faraday cup detector enables it to be used as a residual gas analyzer (RGA), as well as a pressure gauge. Dr. Dermot Monaghan of Gencoa described the Remote Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ROES) technique, where a plasma is produced inside the sensor of the gas sample, and the optical emission of the plasma then is used to identify and quantify the composition of the gas sample. This technique has been around for a while and that has allowed experience of how it has been used in practical applications and thus be included in the presentation. These examples help in showing how versatile the system is for everything from direct process control to leaktesting of systems and gas lines, as well as troubleshooting when things go wrong. The sensitivity of the system was demonstrated by monitoring a metallizer where the different process steps, such as starting the winding, heating the boats, starting the wire

feed, starting the plasma treatment and switching off the different process steps, can be seen clearly. In addition, the ROES was compared to the more established residual gas analyzer (RGA). This showed how well the results compare and how ROES has a wide operating pressure range but without the differential pumping necessary for the higher pressure operation of RGA. I was somewhat surprised by the presentation from Seragus GmbH given by Marcus Klein on the monitoring of transparent conductive coatings. I have used eddy-current monitors for decades, and, although I was aware of some of the improvements, I had not realized how much had been done to the systems so they could map a whole area. This ability to map an area and show variations in resistivity, as well as produce a coincidental measure of the transmittance, reflectance and haze, provides a much better view of coating uniformity. The combination of these measurements also enables the mapping to highlight defects. Another thing I had not really thought about is that the newer options, such as nanowires, metal meshes and conducting polymers, also can be measured by these systems. Although the measurement range has been increased, it still is necessary to optimize the design of the measurement and detection coils to be able to maximize sensitivity for a particular material and thickness of conducting layer. continued on page 66 ď ľ

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VACUUM COATING ProFlex 2019  continued from page 65

Presenting a new idea in in-line monitoring was Dr. Wulf Grahlert of Fraunhofer IWS where the company was using hyperspectral imaging on-line to identify surface defects in the coating and correlating these to the barrier performance that typically was measured for the density and size of defects measured. This process was working, but there was a limited amount of data obtained to make the correlation, so I am sure in future presentations there will be a lot more evidence to demonstrate the benefits of this technique. Yuasa System Co., Ltd., is a company that builds testing equipment, and Kei Hyodo presented the company’s novel method of watching the progression of stress as applied to a material or coated material. This was demonstrated by watching how a material behaved during a bending test and how the application of the bend could affect the concentration of the stress in the material. If you are imaging a transparent conductive coating onto a flexible polymer substrate, the material can be bent to the same radius of bend in free space, or it can be bent around a backing former. Then there can be variations of this where there is partial support at each side of the bend, and the shape and position of these supports can alter the spread and intensity of the stress. This is accomplished by using a mechanoluminescent material – a material that emits light as it is stressed. (Just as an aside, some self-stick envelopes use a tack adhesive that has these properties, so if you open the envelope by peeling up the flap, at the point of peel you can see a faint blue light emitted. This can be seen more easily if you do this in the dark.) Presented was a video of four variations of the bending test on this material and, by using a high-speed camera that could later be viewed at a slower speed, the differences of peak stress and spread of the stress could be seen clearly. Using this they have optimized the bending-test devices to minimize peak stress. This mechanoluminescent material also allows anyone to evaluate other mechanical testing to know how the stress is put onto the test materials and compare the performance of competitive testing machines. Developments in OLEDs Toward the end of the conference, there was a group of papers on organic light emitting diodes (OLED), of which the paper presented by Norman Bardsley of Bardsley Consulting was the most interesting. It highlighted the manufacturing challenges that have to be overcome. These were grouped under three main headings of performance, lifetime and cost. The performance challenges include such things as lightextraction efficiency or color-tuning. Lifetime issues are management of defects (a euphemism for elimination of defects) and incorporation of an effective oxygen and moisture barrier to the device. Costs always are present, and the problem of trying to improve the barrier or minimize defects is that the price of doing this can, at least initially, increase the cost. Having demonstrated a process that has improvements over current manufacturing, it


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then has to be transferred to a production line and work with a high yield. If you consider that an OLED may comprise a stack of more than 40 layers, each of which has to be optimized in conjunction with the other layers and all working at a common line speed, this is not a trivial task. It has been shown that for a simple (~14 layers) OLED, if the barrier layer can be produced with zero pinholes per cm2, the water-vapor transmittance performance is good enough that the lifetime of the OLED will be greater than 10 years. This has demonstrated that it can be done, but it now has to be done on more complex-OLED structures, uniformly and reproducibly. Also, somehow the costs need to be reduced. This challenge was further highlighted as one of the low-cost substrate suppliers that was being trialed went bankrupt a couple of weeks before the conference. To get the most out of R2R processing, the ideal would be to have a single unwind and a single rewind roll, and every stage of manufacturing is between the two rolls. This means that vacuum systems must be air-to-air systems. To keep the manufacturing going, rolls are spliced together without a change in speed, and splices have to be accommodated throughout the winding system. Within the vacuum chamber, the deposition has to be done with the best possible material efficiency, and to maintain high yields the system cannot be stopped for shield cleaning too often. In conventional vacuum systems, material efficiency can be down around 50%, which is unacceptable for this more continuous production goal. Confined, jet-type deposition sources can operate at >99% material efficiency and are no doubt being evaluated for this type of application. Conclusion As stated in the introduction, this review has not included every paper, but I hope it has shown how diverse and interesting the ProFlex 2019 conference was and why it is worth making a note to attend the next one.  Dr. Charles A. Bishop holds a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Engineering with a Diploma in Industrial Studies. His research led to developing a process for manufacturing titanium-based bone implants for tendon location. He went on to obtain a Master’s degree and Ph.D. following further research into vacuum-deposition processes. Bishop has more than 35 years of experience in vacuum deposition, mainly onto flexible webs. He has published two books, writes the “Vacuum Verbiage” Q&A technical column for this publication and moderates the online “Vacuum Web Coating” Technical Channel. Bishop can be reached at +44-1509-502076, email: cabuk8@btinternet.com.

VACUUM COATING Metallization

Stretching the limits: Ultra-thin polymer film R2R metallization for capacitor applications By Anye Chifen, Ph.D., senior technical executive, ENGICCS GmbH; and Eiichi Sasaki, Takayoshi Hirono, Kousuke Higashide and Wang Wei, ULVAC

Editor’s Note: This technical article won the Best Paper Award for Vacuum Coating & Patterning at the premiere AIMCAL R2R Conference Asia, held in Daejon, South Korea, in May 2019. That event was co-organized by the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT). Summary Ultra-Thin Polymer Film (UTPF) is used in a wide range of applications where its smaller physical size – as compared to other filmic material capacitors – makes it ideal for miniaturization of devices such as handheld electronics and wearables, etc. It is believed that further miniaturization, higher temperature and better performance will be required on the power film capacitors. The selection of the film is extremely important to achieve the required voltage and current-carrying capability for high-end applications, such as for DC-link capacitors. The capacitor manufacturer can use various combinations of dielectric materials and terminations in the construction of each type of capacitor. However, the size and weight of the polymeric material are important for the function of the capacitance. The majority of film suppliers have been striving and stretching the limits of film thickness and width by downgauging the dielectric material. Thus, the processability of the materials should be guaranteed in the vacuum roll-to-roll (R2R) metallization process to achieve high metallic purity, specific zonal (bi)-metal distribution profiles, highly defined non-metallized patterns and defectfree deposition. UTPF has been metallized for the production of high-end capacitors using the ULVAC 1,100-mm-wide web machine, especially for applications whereby DC-link capacitors are indispensable. This report focuses on ULVAC’s solution for UTPF technical trends, process challenges and advancements for the production of complex electrodes.


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Introduction he main effect of a capacitor is capacitance. Capacitance is the amount of electrically charged carriers a capacitor can store per unit of voltage (DESH [1], CHIF [2]). There mainly are two types of capacitors used in the power electronics systems: aluminum electrolytic and metallized-film capacitors.


This report concentrates on the latter type of capacitor, whose characteristics and application are strongly affected by the dielectric (polymer film material) used. As well investigated and reported (DESH [3]), the health of such capacitors depends on external factors such as temperature and humidity, which are solely dependent on the dielectric material. Comparatively, the characteristics of the dielectric material – such as dielectric constant, temperature coefficient, humidity coefficient and dielectric-absorption properties – also are thickness-dependent. Thus, this paper highlights the industrial state-of-the-art processes used to metallize the thinnest dielectric material for the production of a metallized-film capacitor as such to improve the capacitance for solid-state electronic applications. Metallized-film capacitors Metallizing or deposition of a very thin layer of aluminum under defined vacuum conditions onto plastic films offers distinctive functional properties (SIEG [4]). Specifically, for capacitor functionality, the electrodes consist of very thin layers < 10 to 100 nm of metal (aluminum Al, zinc Zn and/or silver Ag) vacuum deposited onto the surface of the polymer. The comparison of the different polymer materials used and field of applications is out of the scope of this paper, but it is important to mention that polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene naphthalene (PEN) and polyphenylene sulfide (PES) are all being used as dielectric materials (ACTA [5]). Despite the advantages of using any of these materials with respect to PP, their loss factor could be up to 10 times larger (which would yield temperature increments) as compared to PP with excellent electrical properties. Understanding that a capacitor is basically an electrochemical device, a temperature increase would accelerate the chemical-reaction rates (according

Miniaturization, stability at “higher temperature and better performance of the dielectric material remain the cornerstone for future development.

to the Arrhenius law). Thus, for applications with a stable level of capacitance required, the temperature and frequency dependencies of electrical parameters – as well as hygroscopicity (humidity absorption) for PP film – is of utmost importance to further tailor the thickness of the dielectric property for capacitor applications. Ultra-thin polymer film for capacitor application More energy in less volume: This is a unique point for any electronic appliance or device being sold in the market today for applications such as (de-) coupling, filtering, timing and waveshaping.

The volume of film capacitor almost is proportional to the square of the thickness of dielectric material. The future and new applications are desired for high rated voltage, high capacitance per volume – thus thinner dielectric films (miniaturization) is the goal. This goal cannot be achieved if the required equipment and process handling are not considered during the metallization process. Rubycon, Japan (RUBJP [6]) research reported in 2011 indicated the importance of reducing film thickness and not neglecting the safety pattern of the metallized area and the metallization resistance. UTPF is defined in this report as thickness < 1.90 μm for PP films. Deposition of Al, Zn, Ag on UTPF: Technical notes to tailor high capacitance The realization of this process consists of these highlighted counteractions, high-speed winding of ultra-thin film, heating / cooling and segmental printing under vacuum conditions. This ULVAC system is a high-vacuum, R2R-coating system to deposit a thin film of metal onto one side on flexible plastic webs by thermal evaporation. Vacuum is created using an advanced, proprietary vacuum-pumping configuration with mechanical, diffusion pumps and cryogenic systems in both winding and coating sections. There is an automatic process-control system, continued on page 70 

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VACUUM COATING Metallization  continued from page 69

whereas the deposition of Al, Al/Zn, Al/Zn-reinforced zone or Ag/Zn layers also are configured for high-resolution segmented or patterned structures at process speeds up to 1,000 mpm. The following major aspects have been identified for the metallization of thin film to explore the UTPF technical trends and advancements for the production of complex electrodes. Unique deposition process steps: The processability to combine the different designs of segmented capacitor film with diverse metal profiles (constant, heavy-edges, wide/profile heavy edges and specific heavy edge / active area) at production speed to achieve high-end performance films and productivity is the core of the system design. a) Capacitor films where the metallized plane is interrupted by defined lines / structures are well known as segmented or safety films. This segmentation is achieved by an in-line, oil-masking system during metallization. The precision of the segmentation can be credited to the configuration and system design of the oil-evaporation system and the anilox roll aligned with the flexographic roll onto an independent, back-impression cylinder. The segmentation profile accuracy is engineered based on process oil temperature and pressure subjected onto the impression roll. Understanding the importance of general machine system pressure, combined with the temperature feedback so as to achieve less oil consumption and precise segments (electrode space, fuse), contributes to the advancement of achieving higher capacitance with safety on ultra-thin polymer film (see Figure 1). b) Productivity and performance at 1,100-mm web width: Historically, the web width has evolved from < 650 mm, through 840 mm, 920 mm and up to 1,100 mm. This is driven mainly by the primary BOPP-film production line, which is trimmed for maximum productivity. Concretely, the widest metallizing machines for capacitor applications available today (EWE 1100) are equipped with high-rate evaporation conditions (number and distance in-between evaporation boats), which renders to achieve specific profiles, high-ohmic and equivalent uniformities at desired capacitances. More so, the challenges are still dependent on the base film and process winding steps. The control of these UTPF materials can be critical, based on the industry knowledge: “not all polymer films are the same.” This holds true especially for properties at low thickness, strain, thickness profile, frictional properties, surface roughness and elasticity. All these aspects are considered during the metallization process. ULVAC’s winding system is further equipped with automated multiplemotor drives, which facilitate the tension control on each contact of the film on a roll. Examining the roller design by considering the individual diameter, alignment and deflection

FIGURE 1. Illustration of impression cylinder in the web path

FIGURE 2. Electron beam combined with DC bias technology for effective cooling angle as criteria, this would optimize the traction, nipping, guiding and even buckling at high speed for such UTPFs. c)

Surface charging – cooling & heating efficiency: Surface induction of charges to yield adequate contact between coating drum and polymer film has been optimized by bombardment with a high-energy electron beam (see Figure 2). The electrons trapped in the material induce a highly charged electric field which increases the surface potential. The induced charge enhances the heat transfer and cooling of the UTPF-metallization step. The intensity / power of the continued on page 72 


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VACUUM COATING Metallization ď ´ continued from page 70

charge dissipation is critical for charging the film; however, understanding the primary beam energy and distance to target material would enable the wide deflection of the beam and also process stability at the vacuum conditions. Post to the surface charging, the metallized-polymer film is bombarded on both sides with defined plasma concentration to neutralize the static / mobile charges induced by the EB / DC bias technology. Advancement and outlook â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ultra-thin polymer film The drive for capacitive energy storage is centered on developing high-performance film dielectrics. Alternative-metal, metal-oxide and alloy materials always will be considered for higher voltage; however, the miniaturization, stability at higher temperature and better performance of the dielectric material remain the cornerstone for future development. Additionally, improvement of process control of the individual process units, creating defined non-metallized zones and recognizing precise pattern segments are considered inevitable to achieve superb-power film capacitors.

References 1. R.P. Despande, Capicators, ISBN: 9780071848565 2. https://www.idtechex.com/de/event-presentation/major-processsteps-to-improve-the-performance-of-metalized-capacitorfilms/3910 3. R.P. Despande, Capacitors, ISBN: 9780071848565 4. Acta Polytechnica, Vol. 47 No. 1/2007 5. IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation 21(2):582-593, April 2014 6. http://www.rubycon.co.jp/en/profile/production.html

Anye Chifen is senior technical executive-Vacuum Coating Processes for ULVAC, Inc. He holds a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany) and a Ph.D. in Plasma Material Engineering from Max-Planck University (Germany and the UK). Chifen held diverse positions for over 12 years in various polymer thin-film converting companies and machinery manufacturers. He is the co-founder and managing director of ENGICCS GmbH, which focuses on engineering and business development for the vacuum thin-film industry. Chifen can be reached at +49-89-960-9090, email: contact@engiccs.com, www.ulvac.com.

The advancement in terms of productivity aims to achieve up to 1,600-mm-wide web films, which would replace the 650 mm and 920 mm at existing production sites. ď Ž


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Multi-tension-zone drive system for web handling: Part 1 Dry Commissioning By Clarence Klassen, P.Eng., KlassENgineering, Inc.

Editor’s Note: This is the first technical article in a two-part series discussing the commissioning of a web-handling line. Part 1: Dry Commissioning discusses the individual drives without the web. Part 2: Wet Commissioning discusses final commissioning of the line while running with the web and starting a process, such as coating.

2. 3. 4.

Introduction rive systems for web handling are among the most complicated of drive systems. The drive system is used to control speed and tension in multiple tension zones and with a number of very different machine sections. The driven machines often are supplied by several manufacturers. Drive performance following commissioning and tuning of the drive system depends heavily on the drive technician, machine builder(s), customer management and customer operators. We expect the drive tech to coordinate personnel safety, ensure machinery is protected, tune the drives, configure communication networks, modify the Operator Interface (HMI), replace failed components, train operators and – finally – tune the tension regulators.


How does the drive technician plan and execute the commissioning of a web-handling line drive system in an effective, timely and cost-efficient manner? A general methodology for commissioning the webhandling drive system is presented. The rationale for drive commissioning, tension/ dancer calibration, drive tune-up, dry-line commissioning and wet-commissioning activities will be presented. Emphasis will be given to the unwind and winder drives. Finally, a sequence of tuning the multiple tension-zone regulators will be presented. Definitions For a better understanding of the dry and wet commissioning process, the following seven terms are defined as they apply to the task. 1. Drive – Adjustable Speed Drive (ASD) with its motor, wiring, tachometer (encoder), speed reducer, coupling and shafts.


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5. 6.


HMI – Human Machine Interface (Operator Interface). This may be a computer screen, or pushbuttons and meters (or a combination of these elements). Drive master controller – a computer or PLC programmed to coordinate a system of drives and HMIs to process the web. Start of commissioning – Equipment is on-site, installed, with wiring complete. Drawings are complete. Software is complete – Drive Master, drives and HMIs. Motors are coupled to their loads with guards in place. Electric, water and pneumatic services are available. Multi-section tension zones – Where there are n driven traction points, there will be n-1 drive or tension zones. Two driven traction points establish one tension zone. People involved in the project – Drive Tech ($2,000-$3,000/ day PLUS expenses PLUS rework), Machine Builder representative and End User (operators, project management, process engineer, safety committee). Watcher – person at the machine section being commissioned near an E-Stop button with constant communications to the drive tech.

As an example, we will consider a web-processing line with Unwind, Coater 1, S-Wrap, Coater 2 and Winder (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1. Sample multiple tension-zone, web-processing line

For discussion, the unwind and winder drives modify motor torque to regulate tension. The coater drives modify speed to regulate tension. Five driven traction points form four tension zones on this line. The unwind and winder tension regulators will use load cells to vary torque. The coater-tension regulators will use load cells to vary speed. Pre-commissioning Pre-commissioning occurs shortly after installation of the equipment and will require power on but will not require operators, rolls of product or threading of the line. The Drive Tech must plan and execute the steps listed in the precommissioning checklist below. This equipment will be discussed from the viewpoint of the Project Management team with tasks given to the Drive Tech.

FIGURE 2. Typical step response for a speed regulator

Pre-commissioning checklist:  Gather drawings and speak with the drive system control engineer.  Prepare a pre-commissioning plan and timeline.  Verify that all firmware and software revisions are compatible over the system.  Verify wiring is complete and correct.  Check out the I/O (10 mins per input/output point using two people).  Check out all communications to drives, other PLCs and the plant network (This often is a sore spot requiring days).  SAFETY - Validate (using a checklist) all of the Safety circuits– Emergency Stops (E-Stops), interlocks, safety relays, safety PLCs.  Check out the HMI (communications and programming software setup).  Setup Historical Trending for critical signals – trending should be ready for commissioning, not after problems occur.  Prepare a logbook (or computer log) for the line.  Calibrate all load cells or dancers.

 EQUIPMENT – Consider potential equipment damage (reversing against a coater blade, loss of lubrication, overtemperature, under-temperature, over-pressure).  Auto-Tune the torque loop (all tuned for the same response – see manufacturer instructions but about 300-500 radians/ sec. Record the response with high-speed trending.  Auto-Tune the speed or velocity loop (all tuned for the same response – suggest 1-5 radians/sec). Record the response with high-speed trending.*  Check jog, jog reverse, thread, slow and run operation.  Run each section individually at the design speed from the HMI. Check for vibrations, noise, rubbing, heating. Verify the torque (internal to the drive). Friction compensation may be set at this time (see Figure 3). Safely use a hand tachometer to verify that speed is close (within 1%).  Preserve backups of the setup data for all programmed devices (copy for the Drive Tech, local and archive copies for the End-User plant).

Commissioning individual drives Much of the drive commissioning can be done as sections of the line become available. At this stage, commission individual drives as far as possible. Each drive will require 1 to 8 hrs. The winder and unwind are more complicated than other drives, so these take up to 8 hrs. Refer to the individual-drive tuning checklist and timeline below.

*The least responsive speed loop generally is limited by the section with the most backlash in its couplings or the highest inertia. This often is the unwind running an out-of-round roll or may be limited by a large inertia section, such as a cast roll or drying cylinder. The best practice is to save a step-response trend for the speed regulator in each drive in the line logbook or file as shown in Figure 2.

For each driven section:  SAFETY – Use Danger tape to keep people away; establish constant radio communication with a machine watcher.

For each Unwind and Winder, begin by using an empty core and then a full-sized roll. continued on page 76  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


DRIVES FOR WEB HANDLING  continued from page 75

The checklists follow:  Load an empty core.  Freeze the diameter at core diameter.  Disable the tension regulator.  Disable the web-break detector.  Disable the diameter calculator.  Auto-Tune the torque loop (all tuned for the same response – see manufacturer instructions, but about 300-500 radians/sec. Record the response with highspeed trending.  Auto-Tune the speed or velocity loop (all tuned for the same response – suggest 1-5 radians/ sec). Record the response with high-speed trending.  Check jog, jog reverse, thread, FIGURE 3. Friction and windage compensation vs. RPM slow, run operation.  Run the unwind and master drive at half speed (fpm or mpm) in speed regulation. Safely  Run the line with the S-Ramp. Set the Inertia use a hand tachometer to verify that speed is close (within Compensation for the empty core (fixed inertia). When 1%). set correctly, the output of the speed regulator should not  Check the motor volts using the Volts vs. RPM curve deviate during a speed change. supplied with the motor.  Examine the diameter calculator. Even though it is  Load a full roll. Tape the web to prevent unwinding or disabled, the calculation should be active and the core expanding. diameter should be calculated.  Preset the diameter at the actual diameter.  Run up to design line speed. There should be no unusual  Disable the tension regulator. vibration or rubbing.  Disable the web-break detector.  Run down to 0.5% of design line speed in speed  Disable the diameter calculator. regulation. The drive must run well at this low speed; the  Auto-Tune the speed or velocity loop (all tuned for the line is threaded with motion. same response – suggest 1-5 radians/sec). Record the  Fill in a chart of running torque vs. RPM. This will be response with high-speed trending. used to curve-fit a friction and windage function. Running SAFETY – Prevent overspeeding a large roll. torque can be torque or speed regulator output within the  Select speed-regulator parameters between those autodrive. See Table 1. tuned for the core and large roll. Note the unwind-speed  Populate and enable friction and windage compensation. regulator most often is used at large diameter, and the See Table 1 and Figure 3. winder-speed regulator most often is used at core diameter.  Check jog, jog reverse, thread, slow and run operation.  Run the unwind or winder drive at half speed in speed regulation. Safely use a hand tachometer to verify that speed is close (within 1%).  Check the motor volts using the Volts vs. RPM curve supplied with the motor.  Examine the diameter calculator. Even though it is disabled, the calculation should be active and the roll diameter should be calculated.  Run up to design line speed. There should be no unusual vibration or rubbing.  Run down to 0.5% of design line speed in speed regulation. The drive must run well at this low speed; the line is threaded with motion.

Pre-commissioning occurs “shortly after installation of the

equipment and will require power on but will not require operators, rolls of product or threading of the line.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

TABLE 1. Speed vs. torque RPM

Drive Torque

Calc F&W


% of Motor Torque % of Motor Torque Rating Rating











































 Run the line speed up and down with the S-Ramp. Set the Inertia Compensation for the full roll (varying inertia). When set correctly, the output of the speed regulator should not deviate during a speed change.  Load a core and recheck the speed regulation and inertia compensation for the core.  Preserve backups of the setup files. The Friction and Windage data chart for a winder with a large gear ratio will have values similar to those shown in Table 1. The friction and windage from the chart above can be modeled (curve fitted) as Equation 1 Friction Model as a Function of RPM (see below). The model closely matches the measured friction and windage. Don’t spend too much effort on the friction and windage model. Friction changes with temperature and will change over months of operation. below 20% RPM above or equal to 20% RPM

1.6+%RPM*0.05 2.25+RPM*0.016

To coordinate all drives while changing speed with minimal tension upsets, an S-Ramp is recommended. This reduces jerking the web at the start and end of a speed change. See Figure 4 continued on page 78 

2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


DRIVES FOR WEB HANDLING  continued from page 77

for the S-Ramp Speed and Acceleration. The acceleration ramps up slowly to a constant value and then holds at the rated acceleration. The speed increases following an S (sigmoid)-shaped curve. Dry Commissioning – without web A lot can be learned by running the entire line without threading the web. It will be necessary to tape off the entire line for safety. You must keep the welders, painters and other trades out of harm’s way. Below is a checklist to dry-run the entire line. Establish constant radio communication with machine watchers. More people critical to the project, including mechanical equipment suppliers, become interested at this stage. They can watch, comment and stop the line, but the line is not yet ready for the mechanical calibration and commissioning of calenders, printers, nips, laminators or treaters. Steps to dry-run the entire line:  Remove Danger tape from the line  Put cores in the unwind and windup.

FIGURE 4. S-Ramp speed and acceleration

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 Disable web-break detectors, all tension regulators and torque mode for the unwind and winder. Preset and disable unwind and winder diameters at the core diameters.  Set the line speed to zero FPM or MPM and all tension setpoints to 0 PLI (N/m).  For tension regulators in the middle of the line, enable the tension regulators one at a time (assuming tension control through speed). Increase the tension setpoint slowly to full value. Verify that the drives increase in speed by the authority of the tension regulator (1 to 2 to 5% of design speed). Note: Driven points upstream of the master must slow to increase tension.  SAFETY – Perform and document all safety interlock and E-Stop validation tests for all drives. The plant safety committee should witness the validations. The validation should include the Performance Level (PL) validation or Safety Category (Cat.) validation as required in your jurisdiction.  For the unwind, enable the open-loop torque mode, but keep the tension regulator disabled.  The unwind should remain stopped.  Increase the unwind-tension setpoint. Torque should increase in the negative polarity with the motor stalled.  Continue to increase tension setpoint. The unwind should rotate reverse at its pull speed (5 to 10% to 50% of design speed). Once the unwind starts rotating, its torque will reduce.

A lot can be learned by running “the entire line without threading the web. It will be necessary to tape off the entire line for safety. You must keep the welders, painters and other trades out of harm’s way.

 Enable the unwind-tension regulator. The tension regulator should saturate negatively to its negative torque authority (5 to 10 to 30% of rated tension torque). The actual torque will not change.  Disable the unwind tension regulator.  For the winder, enable open-loop torque mode, but keep the tension regulator disabled.  The winder should remain stopped.

 Increase the winder-tension setpoint. Torque should increase in the positive polarity with the motor stalled.  Continue to increase tension setpoint. The winder should rotate forward at its pull speed (5 to 10% to 50% of design speed). Once the winder starts rotating, its torque will decrease.  Enable the winder-tension regulator. The tension regulator should saturate positively to its positive torque authority (5 to 10 to 30% of rated tension torque). The actual torque will not change.  Disable the winder-tension regulator.  Slowly increase the line reference to half speed. Normally, web break and tension interlocks prevent the line from being run without web.  Safely hand tach all rollers, excluding cores, for a 1% speed verification.  Verify draw (ratio) operation, if applicable.  Ramp up to top speed. Check for vibrations.  Initiate an E-Stop with the line running at top speed. There should be no drive faults.

continued on page 80 

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 continued from page 79

Check the turret operation. The sequence will be described by engineering in the maintenance documentation. The unwind splice and winder cutover will not be discussed in this article. Check the unwind and winder roll handling equipment operation. This is not within the scope of this article but is vital to completing the line commissioning. Preserve backups of the setup files.  Clarence Klassen, P.Eng., principal of KlassENgineering (Peterborough, ON, Canada), is a well-respected drives expert specializing in winders. His background includes a 60/40 split between drive-system design and drive commissioning, primarily with winders and machines for paper and plastic films. His industry experience includes 20 years with employers and more than 15 years of independent consulting. Klassen is an AIMCAL consultant/teacher and member of IEEE and TAPPI. He moderates the “Drives for Web Handling” Technical Topics Channel for this publication’s Website. Klassen can be reached at 800-604-6747, fax: 705-743-2307, email: cklassen@klassen. on.ca, cklassen@ieee.org.




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The emerging trend of hybrid radiation curing By Chris Davis, head of sales-Industrial Systems, IST America

Introduction ith the current interest in LEDcuring technology, many converters are starting to explore this variant of radiation curing either as an alternative to traditional UV or taking the opportunity to review their current curing setups. While the LED platform has some interesting benefits and raises some solid questions about other methods of curing, it doesn’t provide all of the answers. The same can be said for traditional UV systems – or radiation curing as a whole, for that matter.


This article seeks to explore the characteristics of UV, LED and Excimer, their advantages and also the challenges they present, especially for companies looking to transition to a new curing platform.

FIGURE 1. UV lamps (on a chill roll)

Incidentally, the reasons for transition also are worth considering in trying to separate the different options and their capabilities and providing answers where there is overlap in the technologies. This is specifically for converters and the “coatings” that are typically applied. It also includes adhesives. As a point of clarification, “hybrid” is simply a concise term that allows us to define a mixed platform, regardless of which technology is more prevalent in the curing system. The basis of UV and LED is photopolymerization, where the photonic energy of the UV spectrum triggers a very fast chemical reaction, courtesy of photoinitiators. This reaction creates a grid of C-C bonds that provides the “cure,” and in simple terms, the higher the % of C-C bonds, the “better the cure.” As the chemical mechanism is very fast, it lends itself well to continuous process, such as converting a roll of material, and allows a number of processes to be run on-line, providing production efficiencies. Differences between UV and LED To appreciate the differences between the designations of UV and LED, we have to look at the spectra that these systems produce. The modern medium-pressure UV lamp (see Figure


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

1) produces an output spectra that is roughly in the range of 200-410 nm in the electromagnetic spectrum, where the shorter the wavelength the more energy it has and is good for creating surface characteristics (or alternatively, longer wavelengths have less energy but are good for penetrating coatings), and this is governed by the dopant (additive) used in the bulb. A classic example is the mercury-doped bulb, which produces a UVC-rich** spectrum, and an iron-doped bulb will produce a UVA-rich** spectrum. These different types of bulbs often are mixed in a multi-lamp system to produce a diverse spectrum that a particular coating may require or has an optically challenging color (white or dark colors). Note: Watts/in. is not an indicator of a bulb’s output; this is simply the electrical input into the bulb. In contrast, the LED array is a type of UV source that produces monochromatic UVA output (see Figure 2). Currently, the common wavelengths are 365, 385, 395 and 405 nm. Sometimes, LED arrays have mixed wavelengths to cover popular formulations that initiate differently or a complex coating that requires a narrow band of UVA. This setup provides an overlap. In basic terms, the two variables that generally are considered when defining output of UV or LED are dose or energy density

(as in mJ/cm²) and intensity or peak (measured in mW/cm²) in a given band (UVC, UVB or UVA) or wavelength for LED. Dose is the amount of energy available for cure and is time- (speed) related. Intensity is how “bright” the output is perceived and becomes important with heavier coatweights or opacity (as previously mentioned) where the energy needs to be driven through the layer to ensure cure all the way to the substrate. Distance from the emitting source also will have an effect on both values. As the radiation-curing equipment has to work in tandem with UV-reactive formulations, an understanding of the chemical mechanism also will FIGURE 2. LED arrays affect the type of emitting source and the environment in which the reaction takes place. There are a 3. There are no VOCs with UV or LED, which removes the number of technical coatings that suffer from oxygen inhibition, operational complexity in the plant and, of course, costs. which basically means that the presence of oxygen stops the 4. Both UV and LED are based on solid-state technology, reaction from propagating correctly, and thus the media does not which lends itself well to monitoring and real-time cure properly. In this case, inerting chambers (see Figure 3) are measurement, providing valuable production data that in turn used under the light source, and typically these are filled with leads to predictable processes and stable output. nitrogen (with closed-loop control). A good example would be free-radical silicone. Separating UV from LED, we can take a look at the relative advantages and challenges. Grouping UV and LED together, these two curing technologies do offer some immediate advantages over aqueous and solventUV based coatings. A quick summary would include: As previously mentioned, a UV lamp has a broad output 1. UV and LED lampheads are relatively compact and easily spectrum with the emphasis being determined by the dopant. As installed into existing lines or new machinery. Removing a corollary to the UV output, an arc lamp also produces visible long and costly ovens is an immediate cost benefit. light and infrared (IR) heat, which usually is managed by cooling 2. As there is no mass transfer, the thickness of the UV or LED channels in the lamphead. As a bulb emits in 360°, only about coating applied is the cured thickness. This simplifies the 35% of its energy is incident on the substrate. The rest is reflected process and brings cost benefits. and focused by highly engineered reflectors designed to let the longer wavelength IR go through into the cooling channels (see Figure 4). The reflectors allow UV lamps to project their energy at a reasonable distance from the bulb. Although the output spectrum has a bias given by the dopant, it still will produce energy in the other UV bands, albeit at a lower level.

Each system has clear “advantages and can be combined to provide a hybrid platform that gives an ideal outcome, as opposed to a compromise or change in formulation, which can be time-consuming and costly to implement.

UVC often is used to produce surface characteristics (remembering the short-wavelength / high-energy combination). This could be mechanical resistance (superior to other coatings), release characteristics, and decorative and functional finishes (varnish is a good example). The number of UV-curable coatings currently is much higher than what is offered for LED, although it should be noted that there is ongoing research. The heat that is produced in parallel with the UV output can be a challenge in how it is managed. Although the lamphead itself continued on page 84  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


DRYING & CURING  continued from page 83

is cooled with water channels (to act as heat sinks), heat still is transferred onto the web, which for some substrates (thin films, extensible films, shrink materials) is problematic. In most mid- to wide-web installations, the UV lamps usually are mounted over chill drums to help manage the thermal load and lend stability to the web. For converting applications, a water-cooled system usually is selected, as it has a higher output than air-cooled and controls the IR much more efficiently. Along with the lamphead and mounting FIGURE 3. Inerting chamber hardware, a heat exchanger (or chilling unit) usually is provided, as well as exhaust-air infrastructure (hoses, plenum and fan) and electrical/control cabinets – all of which add up to a reasonable footprint and electrical load. When a UV system is in production mode, the lamps are on and producing output. If the line needs to stop, the lamps will sit in standby mode so they are, in effect, in the right operating condition to start running production again as needed. This standby mode also requires electricity. If a lamp is shut down (say, for an e-stop), it will take two minutes to come back to production-ready mode. All of this has a cost. Another point to consider with UV lamps is that the bulbs and reflectors degrade over time and need to be replaced, so there are consumable costs. Although, most bulbs will run over 3,000 hrs before needing to be replaced, and reflectors well over 12,000 hrs, it still is something to consider in the final analysis. Note: Although outside of the scope of this article, mercury-doped bulbs and their disposal are much less problematic than often portrayed and are widely misrepresented. A final point on the capital expenditures of the UV platform: When the output (dose especially) is matched, UV systems generally have a much lower acquisition cost than LED. LED As LEDs produce UV output via a different mechanism, they do not produce IR heat at the emitting window. As the platform is electronically based, they can be switched off and on as needed and do not need to be in standby mode. The LED arrays are usually more compact and much less complex than their UV counterparts. LED modules also offer considerably longer lifetimes, with 20,000-25,000 hrs being relatively common (after which they


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

FIGURE 4. Reflector need to be replaced). Unlike a UV bulb, where the full length of the bulb is irradiating, a LED array can switch off modules not in use to cater more efficiently to different coating/web widths. In addition, LED doesn’t produce ozone, and therefore the hoses, plenum and fan that the UV requires are not needed. Besides simplifying the whole architecture of the system, LED offers many cost-saving opportunities, not just on power consumption but in the production process itself. Certain formulations are ideal for LED as the longer wavelengths allow for heavier coatweights and difficult-to-penetrate (for UV) media. Although the photoinitiator species is different than UV,

FIGURE 5. Excimer the principle is the same. As a point of interest, LED arrays can impart heat onto the web, if the coating doesn’t absorb all of the emitted energy. A Rule of Thumb in LED curing for converting is that systems up to 16 W/cm² output are air-cooled and over 16 W/cm² tend to be water-cooled. The cooling is for the electronics and drivers needed for the LEDs themselves, and this produces internal heat, which needs to be managed. Similar to UV, the higher the output, the more heat needs to be managed, but here it is in the housing and not web-facing. Although LED technology offers a lot of benefits, there are some drawbacks that need to be considered before making a transition. Many converting formulations are not available as LED-curable, and those that are don’t always offer the same end result as a conventional system. As they have evolved, LED-array outputs have increased, but they still suffer from having to have the substrate relatively close to the emitting window, which can be a challenge in some converting lines. LEDs have good longevity, but this can be influenced easily by poor maintenance, unsuitable working conditions and poorly calibrated electronics. Therefore, housekeeping and maintenance need to be clearly defined and regularly undertaken. When compared to UV, an output-matched LED system has a higher price tag. It will have lower operating costs as it doesn’t have consumables, and it can be switched on as needed. However, the production cycles need to be carefully evaluated to ensure an accurate comparison. As an example, a short-run line that has many stops and makereadies will have a different calculation than a line running 24/7. Enter the Excimer Excimer is a specialized emitting source (see Figure 5). It is

monochromatic at 172 nm and, therefore, produces a hammer of energy to the tune of 7.4 eV, which is high enough to break the bonds in hydrocarbons and create microfolds in the surface of coatings (a few microns thick). This offers an alternative to expensive formulations that create matte effects, as the light is diffused when it hits the microfolds. In breaking the bonds of hydrocarbons, Excimer can be used for surface cleaning (prevalent in display manufacturing). That same energy also can be used for surface modification to change the energy characteristics. Excimer can be seen as more of a modification tool as opposed to a curing method. It is an augmentation to radiation curing. One disadvantage of Excimer is that nitrogen is needed to create an inertization chamber (devoid of oxygen), and this adds to the cost of operating the technology. Depending on the viscosity and opacity of the coating, this may require a pre-gelling unit to achieve the matte required, meaning additional capital expenditure. Another point to consider, Excimer bulbs usually run up to 1,500 hrs and are relatively expensive to replace, so the operating costs of Excimer must be carefully considered. Excimer (width-matched) has the highest capital expenditure out of all three systems, but there are distinct cost savings in the right production environment, as it is an alternative to multiple costly coatings and surface modifcation. Hybrid radiation curing As illustrated, each system has clear advantages and can be combined (more and more frequently) to provide a hybrid platform that gives an ideal outcome, as opposed to a compromise or change in formulation that can be time-consuming and costly to implement. This offers converters a much wider process window and, therefore, their customers a superior continued on page 87  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


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DRYING & CURING  continued from page 85

product at a competitive price. Converters also can take on new market/product demands by retooling their curing operation. A good example of all three technologies in one platform is in the vinyl-flooring industry where the desired optical effect is a matte, and the final surface finish has to be very durable. Traditionally, this was cured via UV using different bulb dopants to create a pre-cure mattifying effect (with UVA) and then a final cure to give the surface the hardness and resistance characteristics (with UVC). Typically, these lines are very long. The alternative is to use an LED as a pre-gelling unit prior to the Excimer unit, so the viscosity of the coating is ideal for microfolding. It then goes under the Excimer to create the matte effect and then under a UV lamp with a mercury bulb to give it the final surface finish. To switch from matte to gloss, simply turn off the Excimer unit. Only one formulation is required for this line, and it reduces the production footprint required to 20%. In this example, the UVA source can be replaced with an LED, and the final cure still is with UV. This combination of LED and UV is generating a lot of interest as it is relatively straightforward to retrofit.

Conclusion There is no perfect curing platform. The technical requirements need to be defined very clearly in terms of output and spectrum. This generally is application-driven and formulation-based, and ultimately the capital-equipment and operating expenditures need to provide a compelling argument to make a change or augment existing technology. Formulations and equipment are both being constantly refined and part of the discovery phase for suppliers is looking toward future needs and ensuring that the technology is open-ended (no costly retrofits) and that the formulations offer characteristics for developing markets.  **The UV spectrum is usually divided into UVC, UVB and UVA. These are generally accepted as UVC 200-280 nm, UVB 281-340 nm and UVA 341-410 nm. Chris Davis, head of sales-Industrial Systems, IST America (Shorewood, IL), is a degreed mechanical engineer who has worked in the converting industry since 1993. He joined IST in 2015 with areas of expertise in converting and industrial UV/ LED applications. Davis has authored several articles and is a presenter at technical seminars. He can be reached at 630-5612024, email: chris.davis@usa.ist-uv.com, www.ist-uv.com.



203-736-0790 • sales@ctmetal.com • www.ctmetal.com 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com



Guidelines for coating quality, cost-effective products: Part 2 By Edward D. Cohen, Ph.D., president, Edward D. Cohen Consulting, Inc.


uidelines are the specific information intended to advise coating personnel on how to operate the specific process element with which they are involved. Part 1 of this paper presented the first of several functional elements, from R&D to scale-up. The next sections will cover the remaining elements, from selecting a coating method and general coater operation to waste management and technical information. Coating method selection: No single coating method can coat all possible solution requirements, wet-coating thicknesses, solution viscosity, coatweight uniformity or line speed. This can be seen in Table 4, which shows the distinct operating ranges for several widely used coating methods. Therefore, the coating method chosen must meet the specific requirements of the product. Table 5 describes the five-step procedure to select an appropriate coating method. General coater operation: A typical web-coating line may include all the necessary process modules listed in Figure 6. Specific guidelines for efficiently operating the coater are:  Use and maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all hardware and product coating and drying conditions.  Train operators in SOPs, safety and operating all components.  Maintain coating applicators and all coater components.  Ensure the coating line and coating building are clean.  Control air quality and ambient conditions in the coating building.  Record all process data in easily available databases. Solution preparation: The solution-preparation process uniformly mixes the raw materials using the appropriate high shear rate or low shear mixers. The sequence of raw-material addition, mixing time, temperature, filtration and cleaning of kettles is critical to ensure uniform solutions or dispersions. Solution delivery: The solution-delivery system transports the coating solution from a holding kettle to the applicator. Its functions include:  Maintain a uniform reproducible flow rate to the coating head.  Remove all air bubbles and contaminants that could result in coating defects.  Maintain a uniform solution temperature and viscosity.


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Coating application: The coating solution is delivered to the applicator, which then applies the solution to the substrate. Key factors in this step are:  Use the appropriate coating method.  Keep a uniform flow rate of coating solution to the applicator.  Maintain a reproducible solution rheology and applicator setting during coating.  Keep a clean coater and coating station.  Understand that higher flow rates give better quality and coating-application stability. Drying & solidification: After the wet coating solution is applied, it must be solidified by removing the solvent or cooling the coating if it is a hot-melt coating. The drying air is delivered to the wet coating by a variety of nozzle configurations. The air must be contaminant-free, of a uniform temperature and be uniformly delivered to the wet coating so it dries evenly. The transition temperatures (Tg, Tm, Td ) of the substrate should be known so the substrate does not deform or decompose in the dryer. Quality control: QC procedures for the web-coating process are a system of measurements intended to ensure the quality of the coated product is achieved and also reproduced in each future production campaign. Customers must receive material that functions as intended and has no defects that impair its use. Important considerations are analytical instruments that can accurately measure solution and coated-product requirements. On-line coating quality and defect-inspection systems are very effective and should be used on all coating lines.

The sequence of raw“material addition, mixing time, temperature, filtration and cleaning of kettles is critical to ensure uniform solutions or dispersions.

TABLE 4. Coating-method operating range

Premetered Slot-die Slot-die Tensioned-web slot Multilayer cascade Curtain Extrusion

Viscosity Range (cp)

Line speed Range (fpm)

Wet thickness (microns)

Uniformity (high/low)/avg.

No. of layers

Patch coating

15,20,000 1-20,000 1-100 1-500 5-500 50K-300K

20-1,700 20-1,700 20-300 20-1,000 400-3,000+ 125-1,825

10-250 10-250 1-50 25-250 5-500 13-523

2 2 2 2 2 5

3 3 3 1-18 11-18 1

Yes Yes No No No

100-1,500 20-1,700 45-600

10 2 10 0.15-4.0 10

1 1 1 10 1

Lanes only Lanes only No 1


10-200 14-500 10-150 100-2,000 20-350

Self-Metered Roll Coating Forward-roll 20-2,000 Reverse-roll 200-50,000 Dip 40-1,500+ Multi-roll forward 5-roll 30-500 Comma 1,000-300K Doctored Roll Coating Gravure Direct forward Direct reverse Direct chamber Mayer rod Air-knife Knive-over-roll Blade

30-2,000 20-13,000 10-200 50-1,000 1-500 100-50,000 500-40,000

25-2,300 10-1,000 25-2,300 10-1,000 40-400 8-400 350-5,000

3-65 3-206 1-75 4-80 0.10-200 26-750 10-750

2 2 2 10 5 8 10

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Yes Yes Yes No No No No

Specialty Methods Spray Screen-printing Microgravure™

10-3,000 50-1,500 1-4,000

50-400 0.70-20 8-500

50-340 10-500 1-500

10 100 2

1 1 1

No No No

Sources: Cohen, E.D., and Lightfoot, E.J., “Coating Processes.” Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, p. 1-68; Cohen, E.D., and Gutoff, E.B., “Coating Process Survey,” Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, fifth edition, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 2002.

Roll storage: Storage conditions of the uncoated substrate and finished, coated-product rolls must be maintained so the performance properties and overall roll quality are not damaged. This requires controlling ambient-air conditions in the storage facility at a temperature and relative humidity that, for example, does not cause rolls to stick when moisture penetrates the material. If there is a significant temperature difference between storage conditions and coating-room air, raw-material rolls should be held at coater conditions so they can adjust before they are opened for coating. For instance, a cold roll in a highhumidity room can lead to moisture condensing on the material. Storage-area air also should be relatively free of particles that could deposit on the substrate. In addition, heavy rolls can sag under their own weight on the storage racks. This can be avoided by rotating the rolls at fixed time intervals. Waste management: As much as any web converter can try, the coating process is not perfect, and a variety of causes results in waste materials, be it uncoated substrates, defective coated webs, or waste solutions and dispersions. Safe, efficient disposal

methods for these materials must be established and maintained. These include collection and storage capability in the laboratory and at the coating line. Recycling of waste should be considered where appropriate. When formulating new products, ease of disposal should be considered when selecting raw materials. Technical information: Web coating obviously is a hightechnology process, and it is essential to understand (and potentially use) all previously well-developed technology and current technologies available. This results in a process being continually competitive and cost-efficient. Additionally, this technical information can help develop and troubleshoot any web-coating problems. Readily available sources include coating-hardware and raw-material vendors, university research programs, technical organizations (AIMCAL, TAPPI), trade journals (Converting Quarterly), Blogs, Webinars and, of course, online searches. Some traditional sources, such as technical books, are listed in the References below. continued on page 90  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


WEB COATING  continued from page 89

TABLE 5. Coating-method selection procedure 1. Requirements

2. Methods range

3. Compare requirements & methods

4. Select best and test

5. Use best method

Independent Coverage Layers Quality Volume Substrate Drying Economics

Published tables Vendor data Company data Anecdotal

Several methods Spreadsheet Wagon-wheel diagram Random walk

Statistical designs Outside sources Coatability window

Characterize Statistical experiments

Dependent Method Wet Solvent Rheology Safety Environment

Finished-product customers also are a source of productperformance information, and their data should be obtained and disseminated. The R&D, scale-up and manufacturing process, and data for each product should be saved in an easily accessible database that is available for all personnel when needed. It often is much more effective to spend 30 minutes searching all available literature for a solution to a problem than it is to plan and run several laboratory-coating experiments without any background information.  References Cohen, E.D., and Lightfoot, E.J., “Coating Processes.” Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. John Wiley & Sons 2011. Cohen, E.D., and Gutoff, E.B., Coating and Drying Defects Troubleshooting Operating Problems, second edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2006. Cohen, E.D., and Gutoff, E.B., “Modern Coating & Drying Technology,” VCH Publishers, New York, April 1992. Greener, J., Pearson, G., and Cakmak, M., “Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing: Process Elements and Recent Advances,” John Wiley & Sons, 2018. Shepherd, F., Modern Coating Technology Systems, Emap Maclaren, Ltd., UK, 1995. Smith, R.D., The Ultimate Roll and Web Defect Troubleshooting Guide with Glossary, TAPPI Press 2013. Evans, D.F., “Fundamentals of Interfacial Engineering,” Wiley-VCH, New York, 1997. Tracton, A.A., “Coating Technology Handbook,” third edition, Marcel Dekker, New York, 2005. Wagner, J.R., “Multilayer Flexible Packaging,” Elsevier, second edition, 2016.


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

TABLE 6. Web-coating process components 1a. Primary unwind 1b. Wet-bond facestock unwind 1c. Dry-bond facestock unwind 2. Web cleaner 3. Corona/flame/plasma treater 4. Coater 5. Wet-bond laminator 6. Curtain coater 7. Vacuum roll

8. UV lamp (100% solids) 9. Oven (or E-beam curing) 10. Steering roll 11. UV lamp (solvent-based) 12. Remoisturizer 13. Heated rolls/chill rolls 14. Dry-bond laminator 15. Rewind

Edward D. Cohen, Ph.D., president of Edward D. Cohen Consulting, Inc. (Fountain Hills, AZ), has expertise in the coating and drying of thin films, coating-process development and scaleup, film-defect mechanisms and analytical-characterization techniques. With 45+ years of experience in coating research, Cohen is the author of several books. He is an AIMCAL technical consultant, writes the “Coating Concepts” Q&A technical column for this publication and moderates the online Web Coating Technical Topics Channel. Cohen can be reached at 480-836-9452, e-mail: cohened146@aol.com.


Tensioned-web over slot-die (TWOSD) coating: Part 2 By Mark Miller, CEO, Coating Tech Slot Dies LLC

Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this technical paper covered different aspects of tensioned-web over slot-die coating, such as elastohydrodynamic action, controlling parameters and the three most common variables of TWOSD: indent, span and tension. Process & design n addition to the standard variables to be adjusted, physical changes to the slot die or process variation may lead to an improved product. Decreasing the span seemed to help performance, so alternatively you could decrease web speed or reduce the downstream land length.


Running at a reduced line speed allowed for reduced indent (see Figure 7). Reducing the down-web lip face (to 0.010 in. from 0.015 in.) allowed for increased line speed (see Figure 8). Lip-face geometry has been studied in academia and shown that not only the reduced lip-face geometry, but also more curvature

in the lip face, can contribute to improved coating capability. The wide variety of lip geometries was not studied here, but in general, more curvature can provide a larger coating window. This lip-geometry variation is very fluid and process-dependent, so it would be recommended to experiment with lip geometries as part of an overall experimental design prior to production. TWOSD web handling is paramount In addition to line speed and lip face variations, web handling needs to be paramount when running TWOSD coating technique. Skew between idler rolls is more important and, if the web tends to wrinkle, curl or otherwise travel, the isolation of the coating station takes on more importance. Unfortunately, the simulation software can place the slot die only at the middle of the span and cannot show the effect of shifting the slot die toward one roller or another. continued on page 92 

FIGURE 7. Reduced line speed allowed for reduced indent 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


WEB COATING  continued from page 91

FIGURE 8. Reducing down-web lip face allowed for increased line speed Standard warnings in TopCoat:  Ribbing = Pressure(Land Length) > Pressure(Land Length-1) > Pressure(Land Length-2)  Unstable Flow = Inlet Gap – Upstream Meniscus < 0.2  Upstream Overspill = Inlet Gap + Land Length – Upstream Meniscus < 0.1 Whether flow instabilities represent a real-world defect witnessed at a current coating arrangement is outside the capability of TopCoat – a coating defect is not recognized in the standard arrangement. If a coating defect were recognized, this warning may point to a change being required either in the process parameters or the slot-die system geometry. Keep in mind that TopCoat software uses math and physics modules. Real-world data may differ, especially for fluids that show more elastic characteristics and non-uniform substrates that can ride the fluid differently than expected. Key process factors TopCoat shows the cross-sectional plane of a pump-fed, tensioned-web slot coater. This is a variation of traditional slotdie coating in proximity of a precision backing roll. As with traditional slot coating, the coating thickness is set by the pump feed rate and the web speed. Everything else develops the coating window. Some key factors to consider include the following: 1.


The upstream meniscus is comfortably within the upstream lip. If it is too close to the inlet, then transverse barring will www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

occur. If the upstream meniscus overflows the upstream end, then there will be flow beyond the physical pinning of the slot die. 2.

Pressure should be in a reasonable range of a couple bar (approximately 30 PSI). This pressure is smaller than with conventional slot-die coating over roll. This is because the web increases the local gap and decreases the pressure, and because the effective pressure from the web is very small for small wrap angles. If the pressure dips into a negative zone on the downstream end of the slot die, this would predict ribbing defect (but does not show as such on the TWOSD module). During these phenomena, the slot die and the web flow are fighting the countereffects of Couette and Poiseuille flow. Couette flow is driven by the moving web, and the Poiseuille flow is driven from the need to move the liquid through the narrow gap. From these, a pressure distribution is calculated, assuming that the film is flat and at a distance from the slot equal to the wet coating thickness. The pressure produced in the slot, then deforms the substrate. Because the gap between the substrate and the slot will have increased, the pressure will have decreased. So when the substrate deformation is recalculated, it will not be as large as before. After a number of iterations, the deformation will stabilize, and the final simulation values are shown.



For a specific coating thickness, web speed and rheology, three process variables control the coating window: a. Span – the distance between the supporting rollers b. Indent – the amount the slot pushes into the substrate c. Tension – the amount of tension on the substrate Span and indent are interrelated. A large span is equivalent to a small indent and vice versa. The important parameter in the slot die is the amount of tension normal to the substrate. The normal tension = tension * sin (angle). Angle = arctan (indent/span/2). Elastic behavior of the substrate is ignored in TopCoat. The modulus and thickness of the substrate are not used in the calculations. The extra force exerted by the substrate on the liquid arises from local curvature of the substrate.


The number of iterations of the simulation is a guide to the boundary conditions of the process point. If the number of iterations is high (>200), then the slot die is near a borderline regime of the fluid flow. If the iterations exceed 300, then the simulation assumes no solution is possible.


Viscosity and speed are much more significant in TWOSD than conventional slot-die coating. Increasing viscosity and speed increases the pressure in the downstream portion and increases the curvature of the web, and the gap increases. To bring the system under control, the options are to increase tension, increase indent / decrease span or decrease web speed. If these process parameters are not acceptable, then the slot-die downstream land length can be reduced. For low-viscosity fluids at low speeds, the tension should be decreased, indent decreased/increased span or increase slotdie downstream land length.




Pressure distribution within the slot die also is important. A modest back pressure is an advantage for leveling out pressure fluctuations in the delivery of the liquid. If the slot lip lengths are small, then pressure control is more critical. Under these circumstances, surface-tension forces are more important than viscous forces. Tension control is helpful because using this process parameter for coating control eliminates the need for accurate gaps. However, using tension control requires accurate control of the tension with little variation during operation of the substrate. This includes controlling the upstream and downstream rollers. Alignment of these rollers becomes important for good control of the tension in this arrangement. Roller setting vs. angle: In TopCoat, the roller settings are not adjustable. The effective angle adjustment is used as a replacement for this function.

Embrace TWOSD and let the “physics of elasto-hydrodynamic interactions… help you coat thinner, faster and more effectively.

10. Lip offset moves the upstream lip relative to the downstream lip, where a positive value increases the gap between the upstream lip and the roller. 11. Inlet gap is the lip-to-lip gap through which the liquid travels to exit the slot die. Decreasing the inlet gap increases back pressure and evens out the flow within the manifold of the slot die. The effect of the inlet gap has a cubic effect on fluid flow. However, with a smaller inlet gap, the precision of the lip surfaces becomes more important and coating lines more apparent. 12. Inlet length is the path length through which the liquid travels before exiting the slot die. The longer the path, the greater the back pressure. Inlet gap has a stronger effect on pressure and fluid flow than inlet length. 13. Pivot% sets the pivot point in TopCoat for the downstream land. The default is to have the pivot at the downstream end of the land. This is the best position for considering the intrinsic science of slot-die coating. However, the setup for an individual process may vary greatly from this arrangement – most slot-die manufacturers tend to define the pivot as 0% (right at the top of the downstream lip). This is a critical component to the outcome of the simulation, with a small variation having a large effect. 14. Length is a term in TopCoat defined as the length of the upstream land independent of the downstream land. 15. Inlet pressure is the calculated pressure needed to pump the required fluid through the slot die for deposition. The goal is to have a small differential between the inlet pressure and the maximum pressure calculated between the lips and the web. Balancing these pressures will ensure a proper fluid balance and a larger coating window. Conclusion While there is a lot to take into account when reviewing slot-die coating with TWOSD coating technique, the resulting system can allow for thinner coating thicknesses and improved operability. continued on page 94  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


Technical topics

Technical Topics can be accessed from both the Converting Quarterly and AIMCAL Websites. Advice from some of the most well-respected experts in the industry, White Papers from suppliers and converters, selected AIMCAL TV programs and other objective technical resources are available.

The Converting Curmudgeon Mark A. Spaulding

Vacuum Web Coating Dr. Charles A. Bishop

Web Coating Dr. Edward D. Cohen

Web Handling and Converting Dr. David Roisum

Substrates Dr. Eldridge M. Mount

Drives for Web Handling Clarence Klassen

 continued from page 93

Keep in mind that all slot-die coating techniques are premetered, so the thickness of the coating is controlled exclusively by the pump rate and line speed. The slot die is simply the vehicle to precision coating. Also remember that a vacuum system cannot be employed to assist in coating because there is not both a roll and a slot die to pin against. These differences are not drawbacks but simply variations in precision coating. Embrace TWOSD and let the physics of elasto-hydrodynamic interactions be your friend and help you coat thinner, faster and more effectively.  Mark Miller, CEO of Coating Tech Slot Dies LLC (Eau Claire, WI), holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master’s degree in Polymer Science and Technology from Lehigh University, and a J.D. from Hamline Mitchell School of Law. He has worked at 3M Co. and Coating Tech Slot Dies, and is affiliated with AIMCAL. Miller can be reached at 715-544-7568, mobile: 715-456-9545, mark.miller@slotdies.com, www.slotdies.com.

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1 Prichard, WV-based Zim’s Bagging Co., a converter of printed polyethylene rollstock, bags and pouches, has installed its first Windmoeller & Hoelscher press – a 59-in.-wide, 10-color MIRAFLEX II. The new CI-flexo press already is outproducing the company’s older equipment by a 3:1 margin. It features an advanced TURBOCLEAN inking and wash-up system with electric pumps that are energy efficient and save on both time and wash-up solvent, cleaning eight color stations in only 3 mins. A fully integrated VISION webinspection system includes Defect Check and Barcode Check to provide operators with real-time production data and job control. Zim’s added a new 12,000-sq-ft printing department to its existing facility to house the MIRAFLEX II. 2 SinaLite, a leading North American online wholesale trade printer in Dublin, OH, expanded its label production with an HP Indigo 6900 digital press to offer greater productivity and higher quality to its growing label business, especially in the US. SinaLite’s label clientele are print brokers for flexo houses needing to outsource shorter and more complicated runs of up to 50,000 labels. Initially, SinaLite will transfer paper and BOPP substrates to the new press, which joins the printer’s two established HP Indigo 12000 digital presses. SinaLite also deploys HP PrintOS productivity tools to optimize operations and uptime. 3 Paul Larkin, operations dir. at Coalville, UK-based Hamilton Adhesive Labels, says the key to success is long-term strategy, not short-term returns. This philosophy drove the printer to switch to Rotometrics die tooling to now achieve a 30% increase in job throughput and a significant drop in downtime caused by the need to repair or replace cutting dies. Larkin explains that one job of a million linear ft is run with just one Rotometrics die, compared typically with the seven that were required before. Label production at the Hamilton plant is based on three MPS and three Nilpeter narrow-web presses.

4 Protective-packaging converter Pregis is investing $5 million in a fourth Windmoeller & Hoelscher multilayer blown-film line at its Grand Rapids, MI, plant. The extruder will boost output by another 4 million lbs annually. This expansion is in addition to the $32-million outlay for the first three 5-layer W&H lines and expanded production space, made between 2016 and 2019 at all Pregis facilities. Additional warehouse space will enable Pregis Films to create customer inventory programs for reduced lead times to serve food, medical and industrial markets. 5 Multisac, a French converter which is part of the Sigoplast Group, added a new Comexi S1 DT dual-turret slitter/ rewinder to its production floor, replacing two older S1 DS machines. The fully automated system works at high speeds without manual core positioning or quality problems. Installed in the company’s Chaspuzac facilities, the slitter runs printed, laminated plastic films for major French and international brands in the agro-food industry. The Comexi S1 DT has a nip-tension gap system to allow different tensions in the rewinding and unwinding sections for a high degree of customization, as well as many automating options, such as splicing tables, roll unloading, video web-inspection camera and robotic p-s labeling of finished rolls. Window-film producer KDX has equipped its Zhangjiagang, China, plant with ISRA Vision’s SMASH system for high-level surface inspection. KDX must meet the demanding quality requirements of the market, therefore, extremely small scratches in the material need to be identified which until now could not be detected. SMASH finds defects in realtime via four advantages: 1) the system ensures that end-use customers receive only flawless material; 2) waste is reduced and the marketable production volume can be increased; 3) product properties are fully monitored and defect sources corrected; and 4) plant operators can make product changes efficiently, saving costs. 

2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


PATENT PROFILES Recent Awards & Applications Flexible packaging material US Patent #10,525,680 (awarded Jan. 7, 2020) Inventors: Asaf Salant, et al (Nes Ziona, Israel) Assignee: HP Indigo BV Abstract: Flexible packaging materials with electrophotographically printed images or information, and processes for preparing such flexible packaging materials are disclosed.

Flexible packaging structure with built-in tamper-evidence features and method for making same US Patent #10,493,688 (awarded Dec. 3, 2019) Inventor: Scott W. Huffer (Hartsville, SC) Assignee: Sonoco Development, Inc. Abstract: A flexible packaging laminate has built-in opening/ reclose and tamper-evidence features by forming the laminate from an outer structure joined in face-to-face relation to an inner structure. Score lines are formed in both structures to enable an opening to be formed through the laminate by lifting a flap or the like out of the plane of the laminate. The score line through the outer structure defines a larger opening than the score line through the inner structure, such that a marginal region of the outer structure extends beyond the edge of the opening portion of the inner structure. A pressure-sensitive adhesive is used to readhere the marginal region to an underlying surface of the inner structure adjacent the opening through the laminate. The outer score line includes at least one tab positioned within a heat seal region of the laminate.

Flexible packaging substrates compromising thermally stable prints US Patent #10,486,452 (awarded Nov. 26, 2019) Inventors: Wolfgang Lohwaser, et al (Gailingen, Germany) Assignee: Amcor Flexibles Selestat SAS Abstract: The present invention is related to a flexible packaging substrate comprising one or more crosslinked ink layers and to a method for the production of said printed substrate.

Applicator systems for mounting strip-like fitments to flexible packaging US Patent #10,279,944 (awarded May 7, 2019) Inventor: Vishaal Boehm Verma (Evanston, IL) Assignee: ProAmpac Intermediate, Inc. Abstract: A fitment-mounting apparatus for mounting a holdopen fitment to flexible packaging, wherein the hold-open fitment has a flexible configuration variable between a first undistended shape and a second stably distended shape, including a frame forming a holder configured for holding more than one of the hold-open fitments within the holder, a flexiblepackaging positioning system arranged for positioning flexible packaging for mounting the hold-open fitment to the flexible packaging, and an applicator coupled to the frame configured to


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

engage at least one edge of the hold-open fitment in the holder and bias at least one edge so that the hold-open fitment is singled out from others of the more than one hold-open fitments in the holder and issued from the holder into the flexible packaging on the flexible-packaging positioning system substantially simultaneous with the singulation.

Patch vent for flexible packaging bags US Patent Application #20190193896 (filed Oct. 24, 2018) Inventors: Emlyn Mulford, et al (Amherst, CA) Assignee: Emmerson Packaging Abstract: A method of manufacture and an adhesive patch vent is provided for application to a flexible-packaging material. A fabric material has an adhesive applied to its surface. The adhesive being applied to outer portions of the fabric material where a central portion is adhesive-free. The adhesive patch vent is applied to an interior of a flexible-package material where the adhesive-free portion aligns with a perforation in the flexiblepackage material. The adhesive vent patch enables air to be expelled from a package but is resistant to damage to the exterior of the bag. In addition, a food-grade, oil-resistant adhesive is utilized. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW INVENTION Have you applied for or received a new US patent on a converting-related machine or material? Tell us about it. Send the details, including US Patent Application Number, filing date, inventor and assignee, to Editor-In-Chief Mark Spaulding, Converting Quarterly, at mark@aimcal.org. We’ll publish the abstract in the next available issue.

TECHNOLOGY WATCH Modular setups on slitter/rewinders solve value-added finishing for flexible packaging Comexi Group’s (Girona, Spain) newly developed, modular solutions for its line of S1 slitter/rewinders provide automation for finishing processes such as microperforation, QR codes and easy-open windows on rolls of flexible packaging. The systems also unite with conveying, labeling, weighing, bagging and palletizing to optimize and increase production. Uptime can be improved with Comexi laser technology for window effects in plastic film on a laminated paper pouch. The Comexi Cloud comprehensive online platform lets converters visualize, compile, analyze and store data on slitting/ rewinding and other upstream and downstream machines. COMEXI GROUP, +34-972-477-744, www.comexi.com New sub-zero, hot-melt adhesive designed to work in challenging freezer labeling applications Technicote (Miamisburg, OH) debuts its newest adhesive – Sub Zero – a freezer-grade, hot-melt material designed to work in challenging freezer applications. While many general-purpose adhesives will not stick to products that have been frozen during the packaging process, Sub Zero specifically meets the stress of frozen storage and shipping environments. The rubber-based hotmelt adhesive for labeling displays high initial tack and ultimate adhesion when applied to a variety of packages in typically demanding freezer temperatures as low as -10° F. It also is compliant with FDA regulation 21 CFR 175.105 for indirect food contact. Sub Zero can be combined with a large number of face stocks and release liners. TECHNICOTE, 800-358-4448, www.technicote.com Tissue industry’s lightest core plug based on carbonfiber technology enhances productivity, safety Double E (West Bridgewater, MA) introduces its new carbon-fiber-based, ultra-light core plug. Capitalizing on carbon fiber’s incredible weight-to-strength ratio, the plug’s critical components use advanced composites that dramatically lower the weight of the core plug while assuring its performance integrity. Co.’s proven family of core plugs features models for virtually all applications. Product traits include a one-piece, ultralightweight design; enhances operator

safety by reducing weight by 1/3; a carbon-fiber central carrier beam, ribs and end cap plate; replaceable UHMW polymer journal, etc. DOUBLE E, 508) 588-8099, www.ee-co.com

New non-halogenated, fire-retardant compound fits the needs of flexible films Dynamic Modifers LLC (Atlanta, GA) launches its new PAL... VersaCHARTM, a state-of–the-art, non-halogenated compound for the flame-retardant market. Flame causes char bodies to rapidly form on the compound surface, protecting against additional flame and delaying heat transfer. Tested to 1,950° C (highest to date) with no polymer flaming drips, the compound has passed ASTM E84 (Class A) with a 15/10 rating, which includes “clean” smoke generation of only 2.3% of allowable ASTM smoke limits. PAL...VersaCHAR compound can be produced as a flexible film, sheet or coated fabric, or molded to shape over most materials. Said to be 100% non-toxic, it is free of heavy metals, VOCs and is LEED-capable. DYNAMIC MODIFIERS LLC, 404-349-0900, https:// dynamicmodifiers.herokuapp.com Next-generation CI-flexo press engineered for wider webs, shorter runs, faster changeover SOMA (Lanskroun, Czech Republic) used the recent K Show 2019 to introduce the next generation of its OPTIMA CI-flexo printing line. The largersized 1050 Model is for 1050-mmwide by 650-mm-long jobs such as wraparound labels, shrink sleeves, sachets, pouches and other packaging applications. It focuses on features that offer easy and fast job changeovers, print consistency and reduction in operating costs. The ARUN system provides automatic job setting – an off-line solution that combines advantages of a plate mounter with fully automated device for plate topography and register measurement. Its new ZERO METER waste-setup system helps with short runs. And, continued on page 98  2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


TECHNOLOGY WATCH  continued from page 97

the built-in “Bounce Control” minimizes bounce at high press speeds, thus optimizing print quality when using high-definition sleeves or expanded-gamut print technology. SOMA, +420-465-350-824, www.soma-eng.com Flexible materials offer recyclability, post-consumer recycled content; are renewable, compostable ProAmpac (Cincinnati, OH) broadens its ProActive Sustainability® product line with flexible-packaging materials in four categories: 1) recyclable; 2) post- consumer recycled content; 3) renewable; and 4) compostable. R-1000, a recycle-ready, mono-PE film, is designed for HFFS/ VFFS roll-stock applications or can be supplied in premade pouch format. Shelfdifferentiating Signature Surfaces films include Paper Touch – a coating that combines the feel of paper with the protection of plastic film; Soft Touch – providing a soft, velvety feel, ideal for premium products; and Registered Matte – lending a mattephoto-like texture to all, or part, of a package’s surface. Co. also features Collaborative Innovation, a distinctive proprietary method that accelerates the creative packaging-design process. PROAMPAC, 800-543-7030, www.proampac.com New UV-LED system boosts power 50%, fits electronics-manufacturing adhesives curing needs Phoseon Technology (Hillsboro, OR) launches the new FireJet™ FJ801 area-curing solution, targeting electronics-manufacturing adhesives-curing applications and lab material/substrate curing. The new air-cooled solution provides increased power of up to 50% over its predecessor, the J800. The FJ801 is available in 365-nm/385-nm/395-nm/405-nm wavelengths. It uses the co.’s patented TargetCure™ technology to provide precise and predictable UV output. The FJ801 light source comes with a separate controller that uses a simple, intuitive graphical interface, controlling up to two lamps. The controller display now includes the accumulated time that the UV lamp has been ON, as well as lamp temperature. PHOSEON TECHNOLOGY, 503-619-2326, www.phoseon.com Digital inspection table helps remove printing errors, drives production for flexible packaging BOBST (Bielefeld, Germany) debuts its new Digital Inspection Table for use with its flexible-packaging converting solutions following its success in the corrugated board and flexographic post-print sectors. The novel technology, designed to drive productivity and virtually remove print-production errors, was


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

demonstrated with the BOBST VISION CI flexo press, during the K Show 2019. The table incorporates digital projection for proofing purposes, while it provides real-time visual representations to match product with digital proofs. It uses HD projectors to illuminate the product sample with QC imaging, letting the operator easily see if quality standards are matched or compromised. The results are summarized in a digital report that easily can be shared and distributed internally and externally, including with brand owners. BOBST GROUP, +49-211-5858-6666, www.bobst.com UV-inket printable label stock at the ready PolyKote Corp. (Easton, PA) now offers 2.3-mil BOPP UVinkjet label stock with a permanent acrylic adhesive that complies with FDA CFR 175.105 for indirect food contact. The high-gloss, white face stock is said to provide strong print adhesion and excellent print quality on UV-inkjet presses. Co. master rolls from 53 in. wide can be custom-slit to converter needs and will ship in five days or less. For orders exceeding 20 million sq in., standard lead times will apply. POLYKOTE CORP., 800-298-5683, www.polykote.com Solid-state NIR absorption sensor on pilot line measures 100X more sensitivity, uses fiber optics Mahlo America, Inc. (Spartanburg, SC) has added the new IMF15 Solid-State Near-Infrared (NIR) Absorption Sensor to its pilot line for customer evaluations. It uses modern Avalanche Photodetectors for 100X more measurement sensitivity, eliminating temperature sensitivity, and replacing the old spinning filter-wheel hardware with fiber optics. The IMF-15 NIR sensor commonly measures moisture, and basis weight of polymers (PP, PE, PET, etc.), cellulose, and binders or other organics. Multiple measurements can be made simultaneously in either reflective (single-sided) or transmission (two-sided) modes. Applications exist in non-wovens, paper, and extruded plastics complete with Auto Profile Control (APC). MAHLO AMERICA, INC., 864-576-6288, www.mahloamerica.com

High-performance flexible-packaging CI-flexo press saves floor space, energy use; runs at 1,300 fpm Koenig & Bauer Flexotecnica US (Dallas, TX) introduces its new high-performance, compact CI-flexo press – the Evo XC – aimed at flexible-packaging printers seeking profitable, short- and mid-sized print runs. The 8-color press is said to offer one of the smallest footprints in the industry and is

available in two different versions with a maximum repeat length of up to 850 mm and printing speeds up to 1,300 fpm. It was designed to enable efficient printing with environment-friendly water-based inks not only on paper but also on plastic films. Key features include a clear, minimalist design that increases safety while reducing failures in operator workflow due to a new level of accessibility; a new intelligent HMI with large 24-in. touchscreens; the co.’s PrintTronic automatic impression settings for minimal material waste and increased production uptime; and the co.’s DryTronic for efficient drying of solvents and waterbased inks for both inter-deck as well as final dryer stages. KOENIG & BAUER FLEXOTECNICA US, www.koenig-bauer.com/en 

INDUSTRY CALENDAR FEBRUARY 2020 24-27 Basic Flexo Printing: Bordini Ctr., Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI. FVTC. www.fvtc.edu/training-services/ 24-27 2020FLEX: DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton, San Jose, CA. SEMI / FlexTech Alliance. http://flex.semi.org 27-28 AWA Global Release Liner Industry Conference & Exhibition 2020: Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. AWA Alexander Watson Associates. www. awa-bv.com/product/global-release-liner-conference-andexhibition-2020/ MARCH 2020 4-6 FPA Annual Meeting 2020 – 70th Anniversary: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs, FL. Flexible Packaging Assn. www.flexpack.org/events/fpa-2020annual-meeting---70th-anniversary/ 4-6 FINAT Technical Seminar 2020: Crowne Plaza Fira Center, Barcelona, Spain. FINAT. www.finat.com/events/finat-technicalseminar-2020

24-25 AIMCAL Executive Leadership Conference 2020 – 50th Anniversary Celebration: NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, NC. AIMCAL. www.aimcal.org/2020-executiveleadership-conference.html 30-April 2 International Battery Seminar & Exhibit 2020: Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL. Cambridge EnerTech. www.internationalbatteryseminar.com APRIL 2020 18-23 SVC TechCon 2020: Hilton Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL. Society of Vacuum Coaters. www.svc.org 19-22 TAPPI International Flexible Packaging & Extrusion Div. Conference 2020: Intercontinental Hotel, San Diego, CA. TAPPI IFPED. https://events.tappiflexible.org 20-21 INFOFLEX 2020: Greater Columbus Convention Ctr., Columbus, OH. Concurrent with FTA Forum 2020, April. 19-22 at Hyatt Regency Hotel Columbus. Flexographic Technical Assn. www.flexography.org/conferences-events/infoflex-exhibition

8-10 TLMI Converter Meeting 2020: Four Seasons Hotel, Austin, TX. TLMI. www.tlmi.com

27-29 FSEA•IADD Joint Conference: Hyatt Regency Downtown Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN. www.fsea-iaddconf.com

9-11 RadTech 2020 UV+EB Technology Expo: Disney Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, FL. RadTech. www.radtech.org

29-30 Converters Expo 2020: Lambeau Field Atrium, Green Bay, WI. BNP Events. www.packagingstrategies.com/ converters-expo

10-12 GAA Gravure Global Summit 2020: Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans, LA. Gravure Assn. of the Americas. www.gaa.org/gravure-global-summit-2020

MAY 2020 7-13 interpack 2020: Fairgrounds, Düsseldorf, Germany. Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. www.interpack.com

11-13 Sustainability in Packaging 2020: Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL. Smithers. www.sustainpackus.com

18-21 AIMCAL R2R Conference Europe 2020: AIMPLAS Conference Ctr., Valencia, Spain. AIMCAL & AIMPLAS. www. aimcal.org/2020-r2r-europe-conference.html www.aimplas.net 2020 Quarter 1 • www.convertingquarterly.com


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The Market Intelligence you need to make the right decisions. AWA is the market-leading specialist along the entire value chain worldwide since 1971. We specialize in market research on: » » » » »

Pressure-sensitive Materials Release Liners Labeling & Product Decoration Metallizing and Vacuum Coating Extrusion Coating

Recent and upcoming studies include:

AWA Alexander Watson Associates www.awa-bv.com reports@awa-bv.com / +1 312 943 4091

SUPPLIER INDEX Bag & Pouchmaking Mamata Enterprises, Inc. www.mamatausa.com Page 31

Blades/Knives American Cutting Edge www.americancuttingedge.com Page 78 Valley Grinding & Manufacturing www.valleygrinding.com Page 17

Cleaning PolymagTek Incorporated www.polymagtek.com Page 61

Coating/Laminating Davis-Standard www.davis-standard.com Page 55 Delta ModTech www.deltamodtech.com Page 5

Metlon Corporation www.metlon.com Page 100 Microseal Industries, Inc. www.microseal.com Page 100 Mirwec Coating www.mirwec-coating.com Page 63 Polykote Corp. www.polykote.com Page 101 Vacuum Depositing Inc./ Madico www.vdi-llc.com www.madico.com Page 15 Verico Technology www.vericotechnology.com Page 101 Worthen Industries www.worthenind.com Page 100

Curing & Drying

Emerson & Renwick USA, Inc. www.eandr.com Page 9

GEW UV gewuv.com Page 19

Frontier www.frontiercoating.com Page 5

IST America www.ist-uv.com Page 11

Nordmeccanica Group www.nordmeccanica.com Page 35


SAM North America www.sam-na.com Page 80 Valco Melton http://bit.ly/2Qz7vfH Page 72

Contract Converting AeroFlexx www.aeroflexx.com Page 47 Medco Coated Products www.medcocoatedproducts. com Page 101

Hitachi hha.hitachi-hightech.com Page 65 NDC Technologies www.ndc.com Page 94 Novation, Inc. www.novation-inc.com Page 23

Printing Retroflex www.retroflex.com Page 67


Trade Associations

Catbridge www.catbridge.com Page 69

AIMCAL www.aimcal.org Pages 16, 86

Deacro www.deacro.com Page 21

Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) www.flexpack.org Page 39

Dienes www.dienesusa.com Page 71 Maxcess www.maxcessintl.com IFC PRO Tapes & Specialties www.protapes.com/services/ wide-web-slitting Page 81

Splicing Martin Automatic, Inc. www.martinautomatic.com Page 1

Substrates Connecticut Metal Industries www.ctmetal.com Page 87 Fox River Associates www.foxriverassociates.com Page 64 PolyExpert www.polyexpert.com Page 54

Surface Treatment Enercon Industries Corp. www.enerconind.com/webtreating Page 77 EsseCI www.flametreaters.com Page 13

Tradeshows/ Conferences AIMCAL Executive Leadership Conference www.aimcal.org Page 56-57 AWA Alexander Watson Associates www.awa-bv.com Page 102 RadTech 2020 www.radtech2020.com Page 73 Roll to Roll Europe Conference www.aimcal.org Page 28 SVC TechCon 2020 Chicago www.svc.org Page 79

Web Handling Goldenrod Corporation www.goldenrodcorp.com IBC

Winding New Era Converting Machinery, Inc. www.neweraconverting.com BC Powell Engineering, Inc. www.powellengineering.com Page 19

Vetaphone www.vetaphone.com Page 27

2020 Quarter 1 â&#x20AC;˘ www.convertingquarterly.com


WEB WISE Practical Web-Handling Advice

Q: How can our web processing change when “we didn’t change a thing?”

I hear that refrain frequently when internal rejection or customer complaints blow up, as if ISO, a set of SOPs or some other popular program should have prevented such an occurrence. Yet, variability is the nature of all aspects of web processes, every single one – even ones that are not tracked, much less “controlled.”


For example, operators frequently have adjustment leeway for such variables as web tension, nip loading, speed and other factors on a rewinder – to name just one machine. Sometimes these parameters are recorded but usually not. Mechanical maintenance has replaced rollers using hand tools instead of precision methods. Maybe this time the roller is a bit more crooked than it was before, resulting in more frequent wrinkling or web breaks there. They also failed to change the worn, process rubber cover as soon as it was just showing an impact on quality, instead of when it became obvious. Electrical maintenance did not notice the load-cell tension amplifier drifting or measure nip friction and thus did not notice the resulting variability in key webhandling control parameters. Oh, and then there was your raw material. That was not always consistent either as evidenced by quality complaints and returns to your supplier. Oh, and then basis weight and caliper drifted a bit, “but it’s still in spec.” Oh, and then your customer hired some new operators, as well as a new QA manager. Seeking out the culprit The resulting responses are predictable: The scurry to find that one thing that changed and thus started all that trouble last August and before that back in February. Alternatively, there is a rush to find that single material property responsible for the reported better runnability of a competitor (as if you can possibly change just a single material property without changing any of the others, and if you had measured the right property in the right way and it was determined solely responsible). Seldom do such searches and the making of lists result in useful understanding, even though they are the foundation of many commonly taught problem-solving methods. The reasons are many – beginning with how many differences might be responsible. They are literally uncountable and most unmeasurable. You may


www.convertingquarterly.com • 2020 Quarter 1

Seldom do such searches “and the making of lists result in useful understanding, even though they are the foundation of many commonly taught problem-solving methods.

be measuring/recording the wrong variable for that problem because the measurement you are making is customary and convenient. Or, you may be measuring the right variable, but the measurement is not good enough for the problem at hand. (Web-profile thickness variability comes to mind here as it may need to be less than a few percent to satisfy the winder). Finally, the response may not be well-measured. There are, for example, few baggy web meters. Worse yet, customer response is even more variable than your web. Their threshold of pain varies from machine to machine, person to person and moment to moment. Go back to the basics So, what is a problem-solver supposed to do? Simple: Go back to basics. Know the mechanics. If you have a wrinkle, what specific type is it and what factors are involved in that specific type? (See the “Wrinkle Troubleshooter” by AbbottApp). If you have a wound-roll telescope, which of the half-dozen types is the one you have, and what factors are involved in that specific type? Then work with the major factors instead of trying to find the “straw that broke the camel’s back” back in August and before that back in February. In summary, don’t try to find what changed. Instead, try to find out what needs to be changed by understanding the mechanics of the problem.  David R. Roisum, Ph.D. 920-312-8466, droisum@aol.com Active AIMCAL Member, AIMCAL TV Presenter, R2R Presenter, Converting School Educator


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Converting Quarterly - 2020 Quarter 1