July 2016 Roundtable on Coating and Laminating
19 years with the company
Vice president, business unit web-fed
Bobst North America Inc.
1 year with the company
Q: What’s new with your company? Did you release anything new or notable at Drupa?
Caimmi: At Drupa 2016, Nordmeccanica released an industry-changing technology. I am intentionally mentioning a “technology” and not a “new machine.” For the first time in our industry in fact, two global leaders in the relevant fields joined to present the industry with a significant innovation. An adhesive purposely formulated to run on a laminator purposely designed, targeting the solution for one of the few inconveniences featured by solventless lamination. Solventless lamination is the most environmentally and energy friendly technology in the converting industry. Nevertheless, the adhesive curing stage requires converters to sit laminated rolls for hours and days in the curing room, waiting for the adhesive to be fully cured and ready for the next steps. With our innovation, we allowed converters to go to slitter in 90 minutes and get the compound ready for food contact in a day. That’s unprecedented. The technology is based on a simple idea. Instead of mixing the two components before the coating head in a meter-mixing pump, we use a twin coating head machine design and the two components are coated separately on the two webs, one component on each web. The Dow adhesive formulated for this application is named Symbiex and the Nordmeccanica laminator is Duplex SL One Shot. Each component of the adhesive sits in stable chemical conditions in the two coating heads, reacting just once the two coated webs are joined at the lamination nip. At that time, polymerization starts and develops very quickly to allow for the shortest curing time ever reached. The Nordmeccanica high-level technology guarantees the accuracy of the coating heads, and the superior web handling reliability required by the process. The rest is in the advantages offered by the innovation. No mixing units are required, there’s a low rate of washing thanks to hours and hours of pot life and there’s quicker setup of the station thanks to the patent-pending innovation of the motorization of the dosing rollers set up. Additionally, the machine allows use as a traditional laminator but, in that case, is a super-fast setup because operators will be able to prepare a station while working on the other one in total safety. Therefore in a Drupa show marked by product announcement in lamination related to obsolete technologies, Nordmeccanica stated loud and clear what innovation is all about.
Blumsack: Yes, we presented two new laminators: the CL 750D and the SL 750D. The CL 750D is a compact multi-technology duplex machine that was actually in demonstration on the BOBST stand at the Drupa exhibition in Düsseldorf. The SL 750D is a compact machine dedicated to solventless applications. The launch of these two new products follows BOBST’s strategy of extending its range of high performance laminating equipment to include compact, competitively priced machines which bring to a larger number of converters worldwide the advantages of BOBST best-in-class lamination quality and operational efficiency, combined with ease of operation.
Q: What’s been your company’s most popular machine and why?
Blumsack: BOBST laminators are a firmly established reference for the high-end duplex and triplex machines, leading the highly demanding markets of Italy, Germany and the U.S. with the CL 850 - CL 1000 laminators. The models in the CL 1000 platform are certainly the most commercially successful in North America due to their ability to handle wider web up to 1750 mm and even larger upon request. Configuration flexibility also makes them strong favorites with converters, alongside the quality performance with critical substrates and any substrate combinations, including high-speed adhesive coating directly on thin aluminum foil with the flexo coating system, or the variety of applications from flexible packaging through to the production of technical laminates.
Caimmi: The Nordmeccanica name and reputation is globally renowned for innovation and reliability, (and) we have generated an incredible number of attempts of imitation. Based on certain competition, I should say every product of ours is very popular. Based instead on customer preferences, we prefer to say that there is the right product for the right use from the company that brought to the industry every single remarkable innovation in coating and lamination technology: the 5 roller coating head, the compact line of laminators, the Triplex (in each available version), the Dry bond line of products featuring industry hits such as Linear. And then technical solutions, such as the flat drying oven that is featuring a number of advantages once configured as per our OEM specifications making our range of Combi machines for dry bond (water and solvent) as well as for solventless the most sold in the industry in each class.
Q: It seems that equipment consolidation is trending in packaging. How has this impacted the development of your company’s coating/laminating machines?
Caimmi: Inline processes are a reminiscent of the early days of packaging, where long production meant long conversion lines going from the raw materials to finished products. There was long setup times and large scrap generated by those solutions. Since the 90s, the industry trended around very short runs with high quality and productivity requirements, which suggested very quick setup and minimal scrap. Machine design was key to process this specialization. That triggered the need of single machines (productions islands) maximizing efficiency around the specific process, the need for maximum up time, maximum performance (quality and productivity wise) and minimal scrap. A few attempts to “innovate” around obsolete solutions is not a trend. Take, for example, production, speed of a digital press and the one of the laminator. One laminator can serve tens of those presses. Does it seem logical to go to a 1:1 ratio? Is that done in the interest of converters?
Q: Are you seeing more converters get into coating/laminating?
Blumsack: There is a great variety of packaging applications, most particularly in the food and pharma segments, where the packaged product needs to be protected and its shelf life extended. There are also non-food products which require highly technical film structures. Single-layer films are unable to provide the required barrier or mechanical properties that a composite material possesses. Hence converters turn to multi-layer films or to laminated films or to coated/lacquered films. Broadly speaking, we have not recorded any sharp increase/decrease of demand in coating/laminating equipment over the past few years in the type of equipment we supply, namely laminating machines, extrusion coating and laminating machines and coating lines.
Caimmi: Coating and lamination is the money shot in our industry. ROI on coaters and laminators is much faster than for any other piece of converting equipment. That is the answer. More and more converters are going into coating and lamination because that accounts for a great portion of their profits, effectively completing their ability to serve the brand owners.
Q: How is the push for sustainability and more environmentally-friendly packaging impacting coating/laminating?
Caimmi: The environments is, rightfully, a great concern to everybody. We as a company have pioneered solventless lamination in the early days of the technology, sponsoring the lower energy consumption and the no emission policy of the technology. Nothing more than this can prove our commitment. Nowadays, we are developing products with innovative technical solutions to save energy and to make the process more efficient, energy-wise. Regenerative motors is just one example. The use of the latest in electronics components and the very high attention to the design of our ovens are other areas we address. In many regions, our machines qualify for local incentives as energy- and emissions-friendly equipment.
Blumsack: In addition to extending the packaged product’s shelf life, the trend in the packaging industry is to use less material and generate less waste, which is something consumers are increasingly concerned about. In this respect, film and consumable manufacturers are in the front line of research for new developments, but machine manufacturers are also very focused on this topical subject. BOBST has been working on two main axes: making sure that our printing and converting equipment is able to process efficiently and profitably new substrates derived from renewable sources using eco-friendly inks and adhesive formulations, and continuing to improve the efficiency of equipment in terms of more sustainable operation. The areas of R&D which BOBST is especially focusing on for reducing the impact of industrial operations are the reduction of energy consumption via increasingly efficient drying systems, as well as other technical solutions that optimize the use and recovery of electrical power and the reduction of waste. The latter can be successfully implemented in adhesive metering/coating where specific technical solutions have been devised aimed at lower coating weights with the same bond strength.