Roundtable Q&A: Static Control

Terrance Clark, TAKK Industries  and Kevin Coldren, Sales and Business Development Manager at Simco-Ion

Why is static control and elimination important for the converting and package printing process?

C:lark: Static Control technologies provide tremendous value and benefits toward ensuring optimal productivity and high-quality produced goods. By applying best in class static control technologies converters, packaging printers can prevent production losses, material waste and personnel hazards associated with uncontrolled static electricity, leading to maximizing output and profits.

Coldren: High static levels negatively impact quality, productivity and safety and can occur with all varieties of presses and printers. Higher web speeds increase the charge on a substrate which then traps contaminate and leads to printing and packaging defects.  Field lines coming from the charged surface interfere with printheads, nearby electronics and are directly linked to operator shocks and fire risks in hazardous environments. Examples of problems caused by high static levels are: contamination adhering to the substrate resulting in problems with ink adhesion and necessitating frequent cleaning of print heads, misfeeds, registration issues and jams. High static charges can cause static discharge events (arcing) interfering with sensitive electronic devices and/or causing uncomfortable and dangerous operator shocks.  By incorporating the proper static control into the process, one will reduce and eliminate these process issues.

What are some best practices for static control and elimination?

C:lark:  A well proven strategy for implementing an effective static control program is to utilize the expertise of skilled technical experts in the static control field as well as the processes converters and package printers operate. From this effort solid evaluation, understanding and problem-solving methods can be established to ensure resolution of static electricity problems producers encounter. TAKK Industries’ team of technical personnel possess 100+ years of keen know-how in industry and static control solutions. What comes from leaning on this expertise is development of comprehensive long-term effective static control within converting and package printing operations.

Coldren: Start with introducing smart technologies: monitored static eliminators, supported by static sensors, and closed loop feedback systems. Take a systematic approach that proactively eliminates static and provides communication and then add in connectivity to your PLC, so that data on system performance is available when and where it is needed.  Once the interference posed by static charges is eliminated, employ a means of capturing the contaminate such that it is not only removed from the substrate but eliminated from the converting process.

What are the applications for static control and/or elimination that your company provides expertise and solutions for?

C:lark:  There are numerous applications where static controls are most useful…from extrusion and winding of converted films, to printing and binding of products. It would be difficult to find an application within converting and packaging printing where static control technologies have not made a tangible difference in improving operations. For over 75 years, TAKK Industries has worked deeply within these industries, becoming well versed in the pain points that processors experience, as well as in developing time trued static control solution strategies that we are glad to share with industry.

Coldren:  For Flexible packaging lines it is recommended to add static control at the unwind, coater, laminator and rewind. In these areas, correctly positioned active ionizers yield a more fluid converting process, by addressing quality, web tension, FM, safety and processing issues linked to high static charges. When static elimination alone is not enough to resolve an FM issue, add in contact and non contact web cleaning to remove contaminate from the process.  Form, fill and seal lines run faster and more efficiently with static eliminators at the sealer. Pharma and medical applications can have unique cleanliness requirements, and for those environments ISO class 6 active ionization is available for the packaging area. For the package printer, it is recommended to add static control at the unwind, web cleaning prior to the first print station, additional static control as necessary (especially for corona treated webs) and then active ionization at rewind, to deliver a static free product.

Describe common static problems that your customers face, and types of solutions they can consider to address these challenges.

C:lark:  Very common problems relate to product quality and personnel safety. When static electricity is uncontrolled it can rise to a level that is unsafe for operators to be near a web or sheet causing shocking hazards to personnel and or discharging to process controllers like sensors, which can be taken offline or permanently damaged due to electrostatic discharge. Additionally, static electricity can cause material misbehavior as it is termed, that causes unexpected, erratic movement of webs or sheets in ways that prevent repeatable, efficient winding, stacking or overall good handling control. Webs can track poorly during winding; sheets may not stack uniformly, and materials stick to rollers or other surfaces that prevent optimal productivity. All of which of course leads to profit losses, wasted labor, materials, and supplies.

The solutions to be employed for maximum effectiveness are electronic static control technologies, with emphasis on Reactive Intelligence, Smart Static Control Ionizer Bar technologies such as our NEOS Reactive Intelligence Ionizers that reliably reduce static charges to the lowest possible level. In the most difficult static electricity problem applications, a major emphasis is the ability to neutralize changing diameter rolls on winders or in other areas where the ionizer cannot be installed close to the surface to be neutralized. What makes the NEOS special and is a major shift in static control capability, is that it continuously measures the degree of static charge on a charged surface and constantly adjusts its output to eliminate the static charge from the materials or process. The NEOS also can be installed at long range up to 60 or more inches, which makes the NEOS a leading technology for the converting and packaging printing industry.

Coldren: A properly implemented static control system will improve productivity, quality and safety.  Static control ties directly to how fast the process can be run, how safely the line is operated and the quality of the delivered product. Static control eliminates one of the greatest barriers to achieving high quality - contamination. Active static systems can eliminate charged substrates preventing dust from clinging to the surface. If this contamination on substrate materials isn’t eliminated or prevented, the material is compromised throughout the entire process. However, if static control alone is not enough to provide a clean substrate best practice is to remove and capture the contaminate. Current generation contact cleaners rely on engineered, traceable elastomers and adhesives, and remain the best choice for printers, coaters and metallizers who insist on eliminating contaminate from their critical, valued added processes.  For faster web speeds, or applications where voluminous contaminate threatens to overwhelm the converting process, there are non-contact vacuum systems, some with newer clamshell designs, that will consistently remove particles well below the visible (>50 micron) spectrum.  These vacuum systems incorporate monitored static control and monitored vacuum levels for maximum effectiveness.

What is new in static control in terms of technologies, products, or even approaches to customer service?

C:lark: The NEOS Reactive Intelligence 24 VDC Static Control technology is a major new development in the world of static controls. This technology combines best in class capabilities, while being affordable, for small and large companies.  Industry 4.0 is increasing becoming a hot topic in industry. With one of core elements of Industry 4.0 being a focus on implementing (static control) technologies that can be integrated with overall control systems like HMI or PLC’s. The NEOS Static Control system is designed to be easily compatible with industry common machine control systems enabling operators access to the operating status of their NEOS Ionizer bars. Without question this technology development is helping to address long held customer concerns with knowing how or if static controls are working properly within a process.

Coldren:  Intelligence, monitoring and communication.  Many converters feel it is no longer good enough to mount a static eliminator and assume it is working. They can’t risk waiting for an adverse outcome to find out the ionizer has not been working for some period of time.  Customers have come to rely on today’s newest systems that monitor ionization, record data and signal potential problems.  The future will continue this tread with more communication and data collection.  Systems focusing on predictive elements that enable a possible problem to be addressed before it becomes an actual problem that impacts production will be the standard. These types of intelligent products will communicate in real time satisfying customer requirements for Industry 4.0 and demands of the future.

What factors should converters and package printers consider when choosing static control solutions?

C:lark:  There are a few key factors to consider – such as, does the supplier have the needed expertise, technology and service that meets the needs of the converter. A clear track record of reliability in the industry. Leading static control technologies that deliver economical effectiveness for your current and future needs.

Coldren:  A static control solution should add value for the converter and package printer. Consider who is your static control supplier and what resources can they offer, specific to static control and web cleaning.  Does your supplier offer static control options designed for your application, what choices and technologies are available, and what level of support do they offer to help you navigate to the best solution.

Enercon Industries | Surface Treating

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