Cutting to the Chase

Expansion is a key word right now at Chase & Sons' Webster, MA, facility. Its employees generally work two 12-hour shifts four days a week, but recently their work week has been expanding. Currently in the design phase of an expansion to its 25,000-sq-ft facility, the converter also is expanding the capabilities of its high-speed, solventless, 100% solids laminating line.

The addition of a new ultraviolet light curing system will allow Chase & Sons to coat, as well as laminate, on its 60-in.-wide Geometric machine, and the company will gain added flexibility with a new 55-in.-dia Geometric rewind and a bigger (45-in.) Geometric unwind.

But first, there were issues to be resolved. Expanding meant Chase & Sons had to redo its web path.

The Core Business
Chase & Sons is a division of the Chase Corp., which manufactures tape wrap for a worldwide customer base involved in the production of wire and cable for power transmissions, transportation, industrial and residential buildings, oil and gas exploration, and telecommunications and electronics.

In addition to its primary business of manufacturing tape wrap, Chase is also a leader in custom converting for various industries including pharmaceutical and food packaging. The company's capabilities include laminating, slitting, traverse winding, compounding, calendering, and saturating.

Chase laminates a wide variety of substrates including plastic films, foils, papers, and fabrics. The company has the capability to run webs to 60 in. wide and can slit to ¼ in. Slitting is handled off-line on Dusenbery, Cameron, and Geometric equipment. The corona treater is made by Enercon.

The Core Problems
The laminator had been supplied with mechanically engaged sidearm pressure core chucks and aluminum idler rollers, but in diversifying its product mix, Chase needed the capability to run thin-gauge, light-tension material.

The company struggled with mechanical chucks for several years. A myriad of problems frustrated operators and complicated the process. First, the machine motors strained to activate the chucks. Once activated, the chuck's gripping elements penetrated the core wall and damaged the material at the end of the roll.

To further complicate matters, the plant runs at least three different size cores on the machine and uses various core types, including fiber, steel, and composite. The chucks could not grip the steel or composite cores, and they would get stuck in the fiber cores, making it difficult to separate the chuck from the core.

Overchucking exacerbated the sticking problem and underchucking caused spinning. Switching core sizes involved the long and difficult process of changing chucks.

Beyond the chucking problems on the unwind and rewind, Chase also was having dragging, floating, and stretching issues all the way down the line. The laminator's aluminum rollers would not turn at line speed, especially when the web material was thin (less than ½ mil) and the machine was running at high speeds. Air entrainment was causing the web to float over the rollers. Without contact on all rollers, and without the rollers spinning at line speed, tension control became more and more difficult.

Operators would attempt to gain better control by increasing tension, but sensitive web material was stretching as a result. The plant needed to remedy all of these problems in order to simultaneously maintain the speed and quality it desired.

The Composite Solutions
Chase was introduced to the Double E product line in 1998, explains plant engineer Harold Klei.

After upgrading many fiber cores to lightweight composite cores, Double E suggested the DF-2000 torque-activated chuck to replace the mechanical chucks that were causing so many problems at the plant. The manufacturer supplied adapter plates and 3-in. “Quick Disconnect” Model chucks as a test, with the anticipation of replacing the larger size chucks as well.

The Quick Disconnect system allows various chuck sizes to be switched quickly, with a single center bolt. The vast improvement with the 3-in. chucks spurred Klei to invest in 6- and 10-in. models. Now the chucks have been running for nearly three years without a single incident of failure and with measurable quality benefits.

According to Klei, the chucks need no maintenance, they grip all cores (regardless of material) without slipping, they disengage without effort, never get stuck in cores, and don't damage the interior wall of the core or the material at the end of the roll. Also, torque activation eliminates the need for sidearm pressure. “We've literally have never had a problem with them,” Klei said.

But the chucks weren't going to make the rollers spin at line speed. They, too, needed to be replaced.

“We were planning on putting in the Fusion UV lamp system,” says Klei. “Basically that involved splitting the machine and adding space to accommodate the UV curing equipment. So we said, ‘We have to redo our web path. How are we going to accomplish this? What idlers do we want to put in the machine?’

“We had been doing business with Double E, starting off with their torque chuck, which worked really well, so when we talked with them, they mentioned their carbon fiber LS2000 idlers. We tried them and absolutely loved them, so when we were doing this upgrade, we made the commitment to change the idlers to the LS2000s.”

Jay Bowden, production technologist at the Chase facility, explained that the most problematic rollers were the 4-in. dead shaft rollers with shallow wrap angles. “With minimal wrap angle, it was even more difficult to make the rollers spin,” he said. “We were forced to increase tension to gain more control, but the increased tension was causing product quality issues.”

Carbon fiber idler rollers were the obvious solution. Double E provided lightweight rollers to replace the heavy aluminum rollers. The new rollers have a much lower moment of inertia, with the added property of greater stiffness, notes Bowden, adding that stiffer rollers deflect less and reduce potential problems such as web wrinkling.

Bowden says the carbon fiber rollers reach line speed immediately, and “they stay 100% to speed at all times.” Klei adds, “We've eliminated our process problems, and we get better roll formation. We actually get a better product with much less tension. In fact, we've decreased our tension by a third in most cases.” Chase & Sons now enjoys complete control over the web, particularly at high speeds.

Beyond the physical characteristics of carbon fiber that helped improve the process, the rollers have other properties that further enhanced the upgrade. Because Chase often slits thin material to narrow widths, the surface treatment of the rollers would be critical. Grooving would help minimize air entrainment but could jeopardize the integrity of the material.

The Double E solution was its proprietary “Durastat” polymer coating with a 32Ra surface finish. Durastat is described as a smooth conductive coating that dissipates static electricity. In the location on the machine noted for air entrainment issues, the supplier provided the coating with a narrow groove pattern. The grooves relieved the air entrainment without having detrimental effects on the thin web material, says Klei. With good contact between the web and the rollers, without abnormally high tension levels, operators on this laminating line oversee a fine-tuned web process with dramatically improved end product.

Klei praises Double E for its attention to customer satisfaction. “Their products are great, and they make it easy to go back to them.” As for the expansion, Klei is happy to report, “It's almost done.”

Chase & Sons
Goya Industrial Pk., Cudworth Rd.,
Webster, MA 01570; 508/949-6006;

Double E Co., West Bridgewater, MA; 508/588-8099;

Geometric, Edison, NJ; 732/287-2303;

John Dusenbery Co., Randolph, NJ; 973/366-7500;

Cameron Equipment, Somerset, U.K.; +44 (0) 1823-283411;

Enercon Industries Corp., Menomonee Falls, WI; 262/255-6070;

Fusion UV Curing Systems, Gaithersburg, MD; 301/527-2661;

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