Clean Cut

John Marold, sales manager for Dusenbery, describes the art of slitting in its simplest terms: “Basically anything made in a wide web format sooner or later needs to be slit down to a more usable size for further processing.” As obvious as that is, the success of a job is based solely on its ability to meet end-users' requirements. And recent developments in slitting technology have had to address the balance between press speed and the need for a clean cut.

One of the critical elements is the knifeholder, which essentially determines the outcome of the converted product, whether it's paper, film, or foil. One of the most recent developments is the e-Knifeholder from Tidland Corp., which received the AIMCAL 2009 Technology of the Year Award (see PFFC April 2009, p34 or visit http://pffc-online.com/metallizing/aimcal-pretty-face-0409/). The first electronic knifeholder for shear slitting is powered by electricity instead of traditional mechanical or pneumatic acuation, enabling the operator to set side force and overlap electronically.

“The biggest benefit is that it's very easy, very simple to use,” explains Peter Wood, Tidland's slitting product manager. He cites the unit's autocalibration feature, which allows the operator to use predetermined or recalculated settings for force and overlap to speed job setup and slitting accuracy, as a key benefit.

“It's the easiest knifeholder out there to set up and use,” explains Wood. “You can put it in autocalibration mode, and it automatically finds its position relative to the top and the side (of the press), and then it's ready to slit.”

Adds Keith Hamilton, sales manager for Deacro Industries, “Most companies are looking for one of two things: automation for long-run jobs, or quick setup for short runs, which is the bulk of what people are doing nowadays. And one of the main things when you get into short-run type of work is knife setup.”

Clean Edge Is Critical

Chris Jennerjahn, president of Jennerjahn Machinery, which manufactures slitter/rewinders among other equipment, notes that converters are clearly looking for efficiency in this cost-cutting environment. “We're not necessarily selling to growing markets but to people who want to get more efficient,” he explains.

One of those markets is digital short-run printing, where a clean edge cut is critical. Notes Jennerjahn, “We have a lot of customers who make high-grade papers and need to make them into smaller rolls, so they're looking at automated center winders to make small rolls as efficiently as possible.” He says he uses tooling from “experts like Tidland and Dienes who really know cutting.”

Dusenbery's Marold says that in spite of the wider variety of materials converters are expected to handle, they aren't necessarily looking for a “one-size-fits-all” slitter. To the contrary, “if you've got a machine that can do everything, it doesn't do one thing well. Most people have specific applications, and we develop the proper machine to fit that application.”

Contributing editor Edward Boyle, based in Reading, PA, has covered the converting industry for more than 24 years. Contact him at EJB Communications; 610-670-4680; ejbcomm@aol.com.

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