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Modern Adhesive Technology With Flow Rate Control

14 Nov 2017

Düsseldorf, Germany

Note:This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Verpackungsrundschau
To read the original, click here.

Modern adhesive technology with flow rate control

This year’s Interpack offered an excellent opportunity to also find out about the newest packaging adhesive technology in end-of-line packaging systems. It was the first time in Europe that some OEMs saw the ProBlue Liberty ATS hotmelt application system from Nordson that along with all the advantages of tankless technology now makes exact adhesive flow rate control possible. It was introduced on the market as an integrated version in autumn 2016.

As one of the renowned end-of-line equipment manufacturers, Somic Verpackungsmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG gave information about the modern configuration on an innovative high-performance packer of type 424 W3 ddx even though fine technical adjustments could not be realised due to time constraints. For this reason, the company with headquarters based in the Upper Bavarian town of Amerang first showed the options opened up by the system of the American adhesive technology specialists.

The acronym in the model designation stands for Adhesive Tracking System. The adhesive flow rate control available since May of this year also as an upgrade kit, for example for the proven ProBlue systems, directly and precisely measures the amount of hotmelt or bead volume actually applied per product. Tolerance limits can be defined so that an acoustic warning and/or light signal is triggered if the quantity is too low or too high and the packaging machine can be stopped. Faulty products can be discharged.  

In this manner, the system optimises adhesive consumption while saving costs, reduces rejects and therefore increases production efficiency as well as process reliability. It also makes it possible to detect batch and age-related changes to the hotmelt viscosity and defects in individual units of the application system. ATS also allows for extensive real time data analysis and documentation via a USB interface, web browser, Ethernet IP or a fieldbus connection.

High number of cycles

The line presented by Somic in Düsseldorf is characterised in particular by its high capacity with which the intermittently operating system advances ranges of performances previously only reserved in continuous machines. On the 424 W3 ddx in the application shown, 1,400 coffee capsules or 140 folding boxes can be processed per minute.

In this specific case, the product constellation 4 x 2 x 1+2 was formed. The dimensions of the folding boxes was 154 x 78 x 33 mm (L x W x H). Naturally different groupings, also ones that are offset in one another, and folding box formats for a variety of other goods of a similar size can be realised. For example, small cans and jars, bags or chocolate bars.

As all models of the modularly designed 424 series that includes three additional standard types as a tray packer in a snap-on or press-in lid version too, the W3 ddx is also characterised by its compact design and its flexibility that makes a quick, fully automatic format change in the box collector possible. The operability that has been simplified once again is also noteworthy. The machine can now also be controlled via a second wireless HMI-iPad via WLAN.

No conventional tank required

With regard to the adhesive technology, Somic has enjoyed many years of close cooperation with the Nordson Corporation whose European headquarters is in Erkrath. Due to the complex requirements for the proper closure of the folding boxes, a solution with some interesting features was shown on the machine fitted with four gluing stations, that complies with the high performance of the secondary and end-of-line packaging unit.

Use of a ProBlue Liberty ATS hotmelt application system of size 14 is ideal. As the largest model of the series that also includes type 7, the melter has a melting capacity of 14 kilograms per second. Its most significant technical feature – apart from the adhesive flow rate control function - is that it does away with the conventional tank system. Instead, the melting unit's smaller reservoir essentially functions like an instantaneous water heater, keeping only the amount of glue actually required at the processing temperature.

Melting only what is actually required allows for significantly shorter heating up and flow-through times, thereby providing significant savings in energy costs. An integrated sensor monitors the fill level and reports when adhesive is required. The granules are fed automatically from a large storage container, which is available in a 120 and 240-litre version.

Expansion to ten hoses

Up to six supply hoses can be connected to the same number of application heads on the ProBlue Liberty ATS 14 as standard. However for the 424 W3 ddx, a special ten-hose solution was realised in such a way so that two additional supply lines were installed on the melter and the ninth and tenth hose was integrated via the additional Concert Controller.

In this way, ten applicators are supplied simultaneously with hotmelt. This involves pneumatic application heads of type MiniBlue II Slim. The fully insulated units are equipped with a ball-and-seat module and operate with a minimum switching time of 2 ms. Due to their high service life of more than 100 million cycles, they are often called “duration sprinters”. 

Enclosed system

Another significant advantage of the ProBlue Liberty ATS system is its enclosed nature. Interference from dirt, dust and other deposits is eliminated. In conjunction with a high-quality glue, problems arising from cracking and clogged nozzles are largely eliminated. All standard commercial hotmelts in granulate form can be used.

Also worth noting is the increased workplace safety ensured by the innovative application system. As hotmelt is no longer supplied manually, the risk of burn injuries is completely eliminated and overfilling or spilling of the adhesive is excluded.

Integration in the HMI

The ProBlue Liberty ATS can generally be integrated in the controller of the parent machine via a bus system. Nordson has recently begun to offer PMI starter kits (Parent Machine Integration) that significantly reduce the time needed for programming.

The software, which is available for downloading free of charge, makes it possible to create an individual and intuitive control panel for the melter. The control functions are further extended so that nearly all the data of the melter can be adjusted and evaluated.