US converting strengths similar to Europe

Converter: CMM declined from a huge show to a single hall – mainly as a result of economic pressures and shifts in world markets. What do you think you and Mack Brooks have brought to the show (re-branding aside) that has helped to revitalise it?

When I built up ICE in Europe from 2002 to 2008, I fought tooth and nail to establish ICE as the converting show and ICE was not well known at the beginning. The ICE brand is getting more and more established on all major continents worldwide. In North America we have three advantages now. Firstly, the US market has recovered somewhat and is also more clearly defined then in Europe – with one language and economic trend – and there has been a vacuum, a void, the market has been crying out for a decent show. Secondly I am older and wiser and know what is important and spend money on that. Thirdly, Mack Brooks is a master of building visitor numbers at all its shows, in comparison to many other show organisers, which tend to focus too much on the exhibitors.

Converter: Has the organisation of the show differed in any way from the European model – have you had to do some things differently because it is in the US such as conferences/workshops?

Certainly getting a decent programme to run alongside the exhibit show floor has been a lot easier in Europe. The associations AIMCAL, CEMA and TAPPI have been very supportive, the Americans love conferences and also golf, they like to round off the event. The big issue with machinery suppliers has been cost, in many cases we have had to go into intricate detail to convince them they are not going to be ripped off, like was often the case in Chicago in McCormick. We are not giving it away; we are charging what is right and proper and the suppliers respect this. That is why there will be a lot of running machinery in Orlando in April.

Converter: Many US converters have long enjoyed a buoyant home market (at least until the recession) and a large number of companies still trade only in the US/SA. Others, of course, try to sell into Europe and the Far East through agents or subsidiaries. In your assessment, is there a greater interest amongst US companies to expand into overseas markets – or not?

No, most US companies are focused solely on the USA, Canada, maybe Mexico and Latin America. There are exceptions, of course, such as 3M and Bemis, which have more of a global approach.

Converter: Have you noticed any particular trends in technologies causing a ‘buzz’?

The overall balance of exhibitors is similar to ICE in Europe with our strengths being coating, laminating, web handling, slitting rewinding and finishing. There is some flexo, but less than at previous CMMs, this is partly because during the CMM decline from 2003 to 2009 the dedicated flexo event run by the FTA table top event has thrived. Also a large number of flexo suppliers always prefer a dedicated flexo environment.

Converter: Although exact visitor numbers are not known at this time, what have pre-order ticket sales been like?

It is now six weeks before the show and what is noticeable is that a lot of people are booking a conference pass or a seminar or the golf in addition to visiting the show itself. Unlike ICE in Munich where a lot of visitors either drive or fly to and from the show the same day, in the USA attendees tend to book a two to five day trip and make the most of the educational and networking opportunities on offer. Mack Brooks is running an established railway show in France the same week and pre-registration figures are similar. We are encouraged but not complacent and will continue pushing our exhibitors to do more as well as continuing our extensive marketing campaign including telemarketing.

AMONGST THE many satellite events surrounding the inaugural ICE US show in Orlando is a presentation by Sheila Hamilton, technical director of Teknek who will present a paper sponsored by AIMCAL (the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators).

The paper entitled ‘Reducing waste in engineering thin film material manufacture’ will reveal how the converting sector can dramatically reduce the amount of waste generated by faulty product by tackling contamination problems in the production process.

“One of the key issues for commercial viability of engineered thin film materials is the amount of waste generated by faulty product, often when a considerable amount of value has been added to the material before it is rejected,” says Sheila Hamilton. “One of the major causes of rejects is dust or other particulate contamination so a key step in improving yields is to improve cleanliness throughout the manufacturing process.”

On the show floor Meech International (315) is to use ICE USA 2011 to launch into the American market the 904CM, a monitoring unit for its AC ionising systems of which many thousands are in use in the graphic arts, packaging, converting, plastic and pharmaceutical industries. Visitors to the booth can hear about a wide range of recently developed Meech static control products, while the company will also be showing the new ShearClean non-contact web cleaning system and the Tornado F5 contact web cleaning system.

The ER610 from Atlas Converting (729) is a twin-shaft cantilever slitter and a more environmentally friendly slitting and rewinding solution., claims the company. It has reduced power but all electric, oil-free operation without hydraulics, a CCD edge-guide camera for reducing waste, a running speed of 450 m/min (1500 ft/min) and an option for slit widths as narrow as 35 mm (1.37”). With a simple design enabling quick and easy installation, the ER610 (pictured below) has extended the Titan portfolio of slitter rewinders by addressing the needs of converters processing lower volumes of flexible materials.

Montalvo (329) unveils the Evolution Series of products including the S4 digital tension controller with ‘ Set It & Forget It’ features. The The A4 digital amplifier is said to combine simplicity and functionality in one small package.

The U4 Open Loop Controller accurately maintains torque in relation to the roll diameter. The U4 is compatible with a variety of sensors with features such as soft start, inertia compensation, and roll diameter alarms. A USB interface allows you to program the U4 through your computer or simply use the U4 keypad. The PB magnetic particle brake is designed for environments requiring high performance in a clean environment. A low profile and high torque range gives you convenient, dependable, controllable, performance driven tension control.

For companies that work with coated or uncoated papers, newsprint, boxboard, corrugated, film, foil, plastic, nonwovens, textiles or metals, Doyle Multimodel web cleaning systems are said to virtually eliminate downtime and waste due to dust and contaminants impeding the process. If there are visible defects in products there could be a loss of materials and downtime in efforts to minimise these defects. Dust and contaminants as components of these defects results in higher costs for unnecessary clean ups and impaired productivity, says Doyle (101).

Manufacturers and converters of coated film, foil and extruded products can now monitor and improve their process control and end product quality thanks to new non-contact, in-line coating thickness measurement systems from Sensory Analytics (1210). The systems, included in the company’s latest extension of its SpecMetrix product line help manufacturers and converters to improve process control, optimise coating quality and reduce their costs of coating onto thin films and other substrates. The new SpecMetrix systems can accurately and precisely monitor wet or dry coating
thickness as low as 0.5 microns and can simultaneously monitor multiple layers of coating on or across a web at up to 20 measurements per second. This compares favourably with labour intensive and time consuming traditional methods to determine coat weights that face limitations when measuring thinner layers, individual layers of a coated film package or clear coatings applied onto clear substrates.

Lever Manufacturing Corporation (935) will be displaying the new Lever LS-7000 heavy duty, automatic single knife roll ICE USA. The Lever LS-7000 is designed for converters that want to slit automatically a wide variety of materials such as tapes, foams, felt, foils, films, rubber, gasket material, textiles, fibreglass, polyester, leather and laminates on rolls with an outside diameter of up to 584 mm (23″).

Coatema Coating Machinery (811) will showcase its machinery and services for the coating and laminating of flexible material ICE USA. It has recently tripled its production capacity in order to build, test and deliver custom made plants faster. Eurotech, an Arizona corporation, represents Coatema Coating Machinery in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Radiant Energy Systems (1106) has developed a new hot air flotation dryer that can heat and cure 100 percent solids silicone coatings on various papers and films such as PET, BOPP, LDPE and HDPE. The desired performance also included the ability to handle a variety of coating weights, substrate thicknesses and temperature ranges— all in an effort to run at optimum speed. Radiant’s solution is the model 6104, a three-zone flotation dryer system engineered to exceed all requirements for speed, efficiency, it is claimed.

TS Converting Equipment/Elite Cameron (525) will be displaying the CW600 ‘low cost’, (pictured below) high performance slitter on the stand equipped with shear, razor and score slitting, differential rewind shafts; laser core and knife positioning. Built to UL standards the machine has the latest Allen Bradley digital AC drives, PLC and colour touch screen. The latest design and manufacturing techniques enable TS to issue a custom specification unit ready for delivery in less than 12 weeks.

Slitter specialist ALS (1429) will be promoting its 425 S-Tec automatic roll slitter. This machine has already been sold to an existing US customer based in PA, adding to their previous order for a large diameter 600 Sibtec model. This compact 425mm diameter slitter is used to slit a wide range of materials including foam, rubber, graphite, technical tapes, pressure sensitive tapes etc. These slitters are also available in diameters up to 700mm and 2500mm wide.

GEW (536) will feature its IW1 UV curing system at ICE USA. The UV curing unit is designed to process a range of products by optimizing reflector geometry, high UV lamp output, electronic e-Brick power supply modules, and cool running operation. In addition to curing printing inks, GEW offers the IW1 system for applications such as curing silicone release coatings, UV adhesives, laminates, lacquers and varnishes, as well as the decoration of glass, metal, plastics and textiles.

Betacontrol (910) will present IndiTherm and IndiCam 100 products at the show. These products use infrared cameras to determine temperature differences as well as material thicknesses and weights. By offering 100 percent control of surface materials, higher processing speeds can be achieved.

Enercon Industries (1035) will present a new atmospheric plasma surface treating technology at ICE USA. This system, called Plasma4, is the result of the company’s decade-long expertise in engineering and commissioning production grade plasma systems. Plasma4 benefits converters by adding value to engineered films, wovens and nonwovens by cleaning, etching and functionalizing surfaces.

Beta LaserMike’s (1110) LaserSpeed encoder enables converters to accurately measure length and speed of product using non-contact measurement technology. While many converting plants rely on mechanical encoders or contact wheel encoders to control the length and speed of materials being produced on their lines, these methods are prone to measurement errors due to slippage or dirt build-up. LaserSpeed, however, uses no moving parts and is permanently calibrated so costly product over shipments or shortages can be avoided.

The new 344 FP turret rewinder from Catbridge Machinery, (419) is designed specifically for flexible packaging applications. With claimed cycle times more than five times faster than conventional slitter cycle times, the Model 344 FP is said to reduce downtime and provides consistent high quality output. The model on show is most productive for repetitive, long run work where minimising downtime between cycles is essential. Several design features help to optimise performance of the Model 344 FP. Catbridge’s tabber and roll enveloper automate the cut-off, transfer, and tail tie of multiple webs, thus reducing cycle times. A new core placement system expedites precise core setups. Patented knife placement systems greatly reduce knife setup times and significantly improve cut accuracy, consistency and repeatability. Technological improvements such as a new idler and driven roll design allow for much faster rewind speeds.