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Gluing Systems--Finding Sticky Situations

September 2000
BY ERIK CAGLE


Is it possible for a gluing system to be all things to all printers and finishers? The answer to that question is a wholehearted yes.

Let's be honest, the days of "Type A personality" gluing systems are long gone. Competition on the manufacturer level has prevented one-dimensional systems from becoming prevalent. Gluing systems must play nice with the presses, or they'll find themselves taking an extended time out on a dusty shelf in a second-hand shop. Not only must they be easy to use, setup and maintain, but application must be uniform.

By the same token, not every system will be a perfect fit for a user's application, thus it helps to have an idea of what features are most critical to various applications.

"Is the system flexible, capable of operating at speeds the printer wants them to run at?" wonders Louie Hollmeyer, director of marketing for Valco Cincinnati. "Is it capable of what they want it to do today—and is it capable of what they might want it to do in the future?

"For manufacturers, it's a matter of taking all the requirements of a customer and coming up with one piece of equipment that can do it all. Develop a system that's flexible enough to meet many needs rather than just one particular, specific application."

Valco Cincinnati offers a number of adhesive systems that can all be tailored to the requirements of the customer, including the RoBond fluid application system for high-speed presses. The system includes an MCP-25 microprocessor pattern control system and DD-1 air-driven diaphragm pump adhesive delivery. It also features motorized sled bars, bridge controls and dispensing valves for fine-line gluing and fold softening.

Valco now also boasts the OT-100 terminal with CPU and glue supply unit for fast, accurate gluing and quality assurance management. The OT-100 can accept and integrate up to 16 different glue valves and sensors for multiple and specific applications.

Glue types and substrates are the first considerations for choosing a system, notes Steve Wendell, regional sales manager for GMS. A number of glues fall into either the cold or hotmelt category; cold glues are generally more user-friendly and relatively inexpensive while certain applications tend to favor using hotmelt, such as remoistenable glue.

Substrate material and how quickly the glue needs to set are also primary considerations, according to Wendell. He recommends consulting a supplier for the ideal choice for a given application.

Need to Consider
"Continuous line or pattern gluing can often be done with simple contact systems where the applicator device is in direct contact with the material to which glue is being applied," Wendell states. "If, however, the intent is to use an array of dots, lines, stitches or glues—singularly or in combination—a non-contact system is almost a necessity. By definition, non-contact systems also require that the glue being fed is pressurized."

He notes that real-time data collection may become a greater consideration; while the CIP3 protocol has not been integrated into glue application systems, that may well change in the foreseeable future.

GMS offers two- and eight-channel controllers, with several applicator valve designs available for each. Controllers feature multi-lingual prompting using a highly visible VF display. The eight-channel controller features provisions for networking and data collection, with downloading to a PC or to a hand-held printer via the unit's built-in IR port.

According to Frank Hughes, vice president of sales and marketing at Robatech USA, the cost of maintaining some adhesive systems over a five-year period can end up matching the initial cost of the system. Find a warranty that works for you.

"Many companies are so convinced that they are manufacturing a high-quality, low-maintenance unit that they are now giving a longer warranty," Hughes notes. "Look for companies that offer two years on the complete unit and electronics, and a lifetime warranty on the tank heaters."

Hughes advises customers to seek out an electronic control system that's integrated into all areas, such as tank units, PUR units, drum melters and premelters. Such a system is beneficial to both the machine operators and maintenance personnel.

While a customer's production machinery continues to become more complex and more compact, the expectation of the gluing system is to be more compact and easier to integrate into the machine.

Integrated Units
"For example, units are now being manufactured that incorporate the timer or pattern controller integrated into the unit," Hughes remarks. "Also, hot-melt units have been developed where they can easily be rotated around 180 degrees to allow the hoses to exit from either the left or right end when mounting them on the OEM's equipment. This allows shorter hoses to be used, saving money and providing a more compact, cleaner layout. This is impossible to do with some units because the lid for adding adhesive only opens in one direction."

Robatech's arsenal of liquid and hot-melt adhesive application equipment includes the Premelter units, which can be remotely controlled by PROFIBUS and CAN-bus open bus interfaces, or by the original equipment manufacturer's proprietary software. Its Concept line of tank units offers the capability to place two pumps into a single unit.

The company recently introduced a complete cold-glue product line that can be integrated with the new AS 60 pattern controller and a bead detection system. The line is particularly effective for applications such as those used in the folder/mailer industry.

Customers should seek gluing systems that are, in a word, easy, according to Geoff Smith, lead engineer for Support Products. The systems should feature ease of use, be easy to clean and be easy to purge glue lines. The guns themselves should feature dependability and be easy to rebuild.

Flexibility of Positions
Smith finds many customers are seeking systems that boast glue gun position flexibility, with the remote and non-remote head option.

"Customers want to be able to install a system with minimal interference, with ribbons and the controller being accessible," Smith says. "They also want continued support after the system is installed."

Support Products offers its Remote Pasting and Softening System, which allows pasting and softening of signatures on web press folders and finishing lines. Options include dual tank assembly, dripless system and dual needle head assembly. Another offering, the Programmable (Skip) Glue System, features a controller that can drive eight guns with individual control and can be expanded to 16 channels. The system can be used with permanent, fugitive and resealable glues. Added features include LCD display, 99 glue pattern programability and is expandable up to 128 guns.

According to Neil Kurkjy, marketing director at Baldwin Technology, some customer considerations for purchasing gluing systems include the following:

  • Quick selection of gluing patterns.

  • Automatic head and system flushing.

  • Increased production speeds.

  • Non-stop operation.


Precise glue application and systems that can maintain pace with high press speeds head the list of customer issues that influence the manner in which the systems are manufactured, Kurkjy notes, along with easy maintenance and system reliability.

Baldwin Technology's latest offering is the MicroSet 497 for intermittent in-line fold gluing with integrated folding aid. Features include programmable glue patterns, eight preset patterns, 16 patterns per job (up to 100 jobs storable), press speed up to 18 m/s and glue pressure up to six bar.

Some manufacturers are looking for ways to reinvent the humble glue. Moore Corp. has developed the SpeediSealer pressure seal system that features a patented "cohesive," an adhesive that sticks to itself and is used in mail applications. A continuous seal is formed around the document by applying pressure. The cohesive will only adhere to itself and will not melt or become tacky when exposed to the heat of laser printers. The system can process up to 18,000 pieces per hour.

An expert in this end of the graphic arts business, D&R Engineering offers several gluing systems, including its high-pressure Glue and Moistening System. It is designed for use on any combination or high-speed folder, but doesn't have gears or motors. The system is expandable for any number of additional applicator heads.

D&R's Spot Gluing System, which spot glues on a high-speed web press, features high-speed dispensing valves, a phasing device with proximity detector and an electronic controller. D&R's Remoistenable Glue System, which applies a continuous stripe of remoistenable adhesive on a high-speed web press, has an air bar assembly with air pressure regulation system.
 

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