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Technology Feature

Ancillary Equipment Key to Folding/Gluing Success

by Jeff Peterson

November-December, 2008
Not long ago, folding/gluing equipment was expected to do simply what its name implied: fold and glue in-line products such as cartons, presentation folders, CD wallets, and other printed material. However today's customers want more for less, and they want it completed with impossible deadlines.

Shorter turnarounds and reduced profit margins, coupled with the fact that print finishing and folding carton operations continue to look for additional services to offer their customers, have increased the need to do more in-line. In response, folding/gluing machine manufacturers, along with ancillary equipment partners, have developed new types of ancillary equipment that not only help with the speed and consistency of folding/gluing but also, offer additional add-ons to provide services never before possible.

In recent years, gluing equipment manufacturers have continued to upgrade their equipment and offer gluing technology and quality detection equipment together. This has been a great addition to folding/gluing lines to help automate not only the gluing systems for different types of boxes and other products but also, to add quality assurance detection systems to weed-out defects and ensure the quality of the end product.

Glue and Detection Equipment
The Baumer hhs Xtend2 series is a modular, integrated system that controls the application of the glue and the quality assurance of virtually everything in the folding/gluing line, including data-matrix codes, text recognition, placement of labels, and correct folding. The system is built for less downtime and less waste. The newest system includes an internal detection of connected sensors to reduce set-up times and also includes digital communication with cold glue pumps and hot glue melting devices that bundles all the information in a central location. Camera technology as part of the Xtend2 system can monitor various tasks at the same time, including multiple glue lines, correct folding, glue flap length, label position, and more.

W.H. Leary Company also has developed a gluing and detection system that can retrofit to most any type of folding/gluing machine. The system is operated by Leary’s new pictorial software program, Monet™. This new software was designed with easy job set-up in mind. Makeready time is reduced with the Simple™ three-step job set-up and training time is reduced with the language-free pictorial-driven software. The new software not only controls the valves and detection sensors but also, can send/receive various types of inputs and outputs to perform different functions for other pieces of equipment on the machine such as activating label applicators, insert devices, and air blast stations for pocket folders. Monet™ Software can calculate how many valves are required for standard style boxes (straight line, four- and six-corner, and lock bottom), and the approximate size and placement of each line of glue being applied based on carton size and flap size. This eliminates the need to measure the approximate location of each glue line and enter the settings manually.

Plasma Treatment
A fairly new technology, plasma treatment is being added to many folder-gluers to treat the coated glue flaps or the material before the glue is applied. Derived from corona treatment technology, adding a plasma treatment system to a new or existing folder-gluer can provide several benefits. First, it eliminates the need to ‘blank out’ the tabs when high gloss UV or aqueous coatings are applied to a carton. The plasma treatment will increase the dyne level of the coatings and improve the adhesion capability of the glue being applied. In addition, this type of system can treat difficult-to-glue substrates such as clear plastics and poly coated materials, thereby opening up new markets and possibilities for cartons and other printed products.

The format of the system is fairly simple and can be adapted easily to most any folder-gluer. The plasma system is interconnected with the speed control of the gluer so the plasma beam does not come on until reaching speeds above jog, and turns off immediately with emergency stop. Further, the system can be furnished with a range of one to four heads for a single system. This will allow for multiple heads when the unit has more than one glue line. The treater heads can be located anywhere and at any angle prior to gluing.

Additional Add-Ons and Options
As mentioned earlier, new ancillary technologies have spread into innovations within the folding/gluing line that can accomplish functions that, in the past, were completed in a separate run on an entirely different machine.

For instance, Moll B&R has started to equip both new and existing Moll folder-gluers with ancillary add-ons such as in-line inserting equipment, wafer sealing units, and even ink-jet addressing capabilities. This type of automation can provide a finisher and/or mailing house the ability to insert, fold, glue, seal, and even address the piece all in-line, potentially eliminating what was done in the past on three or four machines. These types of innovations can be used with standard pocket folders, for example, where a separate brochure or flyer is inserted as the folder is being folded and glued, and then secured with a wafer seal to hold everything together. This provides the end customer a finished folder with the information ready to mail or hand to a customer. Providing these types of ‘extra’ services can help print finishers stay a step ahead of the competition and expand their offerings to the printer or end user.

Brandtjen & Kluge also has seen the importance of combining processes that were done on separate pieces of equipment in the past that now can be accomplished all in one pass. Onserting capabilities are available on Kluge folder/gluers to allow products such as DVDs to be placed on their jacket blank. The jacket is then folded around the disc and glued, turned 90 degrees and tabbed, all in one pass. Again, this saves the run labor on one machine for inserting and another machine for tabbing. Kluge also offers a drop-in, in-line scoring option for its OmniFold folder/gluers. This option can eliminate a pass on a high-speed diecutter to score the product, thereby saving time, materials, and diecutting capacity.

To help automate gluing/detection systems, American International Machinery offers a unique carton ejection option for its line of Signature folder-gluers that is simple yet much safer than older ejection technology. The Signature carton ejection system removes any rejected cartons in an upward direction, and places the ejected carton in an open top tray or plexi-glass box that sits above the trombone section. The operator is then able to retrieve any carton safely for proper inspection. Because the carton is redirected up rather than down, it creates a very safe environment for retrieval. The Signature carton ejector will work with any glue application system currently on the market when a glue verification/detection option is installed, without any special wiring or programming needed. It is a great option for customers who are seeking ISO certification or for those already ISO-certified.

Besides the added-value additions available on folder-gluers, increased speed and output also are very important. With this in mind, Bobst Group offers innovative options to handle blanks both into and from its folder-gluers. The Bobst Easyfeeder GT ensures a constant pile height in the feeder of the folder-gluer for smooth, even feeding that will result in greater consistency and less stoppages. Speeds naturally will increase due to the greater reserve of blanks in the Easyfeeder, which can be maintained easily as the machine runs faster. At the delivery of the folder-gluer, the packing job is simplified with a Handypack GT. Extremely versatile and able to accept almost any carton style, the Handypack collates production into a compact stream for easy handling while maintaining consistent blank counts. The operator can pick the desired count and place it into the corrugated outer. Both the Easyfeeder and Handypack GT are simple to set up and facilitate much greater throughput and quality through the folder-gluer.

Whether adding the right gluing/detection system, upgrading feeder/delivery options, or adding value-added ancillary equipment such as inserting or scoring in-line, folding/gluing equipment has changed in the last few years to create new sources of businesses for the print finisher and folding carton manufacturer. As technology continues to grow, even more ancillary products are sure to emerge and provide additional in-line options for the future.

Sources:
Gluing/Detection Systems
Baumer hhs – www.baumerhhs.com – (937) 886-3160
W.H. Leary Co., Inc. – www.whleary.com – (708) 444-4900

Plasma Treatment Systems
Adhesive & Equipment, Inc. – ww.adhesives-equipment.com – (616) 647-0694
3DT LLC – www.3DTLLC.com – (262) 253-6700

Folder/Gluer Equipment
American International Machinery – www.aim-inc.om – (414) 764-3223
Bobst Group North America – www.bobstgroup.com – (973) 226-8000
Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc. – www.kluge.biz – (715) 483-3265
Brausse Group – www.brausse.com – (604) 278-2027
Moll B&R – www.mollbrothers.com – (267) 288-0282