- September 30, 2004, Carrie Cleaveland, Editorial Intern
When I was a kid, my father proved himself a powerful wizard when he magically stuck a balloon to the wall just by rubbing it on his head.
Of course, I would later find out not only was it not magic, but the static electricity that was my childhood fascination can be a nightmarish problem for converters.
The decision to purchase static control equipment and which equipment to purchase are choices requiring much consideration. “There are many reasons to incorporate static control into the converting process,” says Scott Shelton, North American sales manager at Simco Industrial Static Control, Hatfield, PA (simco.biz). According to Shelton, the reasons for installing equipment vary; a question of safety, concern for product quality, a customer's requirements, or problems involving the converting process itself all may factor into a converter's decision.
For Tom Seratti, president and COO of SPI Westek, Anaheim, CA, USA (spiwestek.com), considering the purchase of static control equipment is a five-part series of questions. According to Seratti, converters should consider the nature of the static problem, stock and environment restrictions, the location of application, geometry of the installation, and process speed. He notes, “Static control should be applied the smallest distance possible upstream from the point where static is a problem. Remember, every time the stock comes in contact with an insulator — such as a plastic roller, other stock, even high-pressure air — it is likely to pick up more charge.”
Choosing a supplier is also a matter of some deliberation. Shelton suggests, “The supplier should be capable of providing on-site evaluations of the converter's processes, make proper recommendations for the application, and have reasonable local field representation that can provide ongoing product and technical support within a reasonable time frame at the request of the converter.”
The options for converters interested in static control are ever-expanding. “During the last four or five years, static control products have gone to advanced technologies that enable better control at higher web speeds,” says Shelton. He also praises systems' abilities to neutralize at greater distances. Seratti thinks one of the most significant changes to benefit converters is “the introduction of lightweight, ABS plastic ionizer bars that can be configured in any length and emitter pattern-driven by pulse-DC high-voltage power supplies.” These systems, according to Seratti, are useful for challenging mounting situations.
Seratti also credits the ABS ionizer bars with assisting converters in minimizing challenges, saying “direct control of the pulse speed and polarity bias makes them flexible for varying process speeds and charge buildups.” According to Shelton, static control often is overlooked by converters, as they have so many ongoing tasks that require more immediate attention. Unless problems appear due to lack of attention, the question of static control rarely is addressed. Therefore, he believes today's technology has special importance. “The newer technology systems are much more user-friendly as they take the guesswork out of the equation for the converter.”
Shelton is optimistic about the future of static control. “Static control in the converting industry is continuing to move toward the higher technology products,” he says. “Demands are being placed on the manufacturers of this equipment due to the requirements of the converting industry to streamline manufacturing processes and produce the highest quality products to maintain a dominant position in the world market.” Seratti has a specific advancement in mind. He says the future of static control lies in “self-balanced bars that detect upstream charge distribution on stock and automatically apply the right ionization to produce fully neutralized stock, regardless of environmental conditions.”
Leave static to father-daughter parlor tricks and adhesive-less party decorations. For manufacturers of static prevention equipment, the matter is well under control.
Restrictions of time and space limit the number of companies, products, and trends that we can discuss in these reports. For additional information, see PFFC 's features and departments each month, consult the June Buyers Guide, and check pffc-online.com.