- June 01, 2001, Claudia Hine, Senior Editor
At Unifoil Corp., Passaic, NJ, improved product quality and faster turnaround are the results of a $1.5 million capital investment in optically registered sheeting, steam-sheeting, and embossing equipment.
The company's recent purchase includes a DFK sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Co., the Steam-Foil® System from Thermo Web Systems, and an embosser/calender from Verduin Machinery.
Once a part of Anaconda Aluminum Corp., Unifoil's experience with foil lamination goes back nearly 30 years. Today, Unifoil is a $40 million global company and an innovator in laminating, coating, and metallizing technology, producing eye-catching foils, films, and now brilliant holographic materials as well. The company supplies the worldwide instant lottery industry and provides the packaging industry with a variety of well-recognized, award-winning product containers we use every day.
Product innovations include UniLuster® , Holographic UniLustre® , and Registered Holographic UniLuster® , proprietary, nonlaminated, brilliant metallized papers and boards.
Warner Lambert's new Max Air brand of sugarless chewing gum and Estee Lauder's holiday set-up boxes, made with Holographic UniLustre, earned top honors from the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators (AIMCAL) in 2000. Cadbury Schweppes' The Milk Tray, made with Double Rainbow Holographic UniLustre, took AIMCAL's prestigious Peter Rigney Award in 2000.
Current manufacturing activity includes high-tech bus passes by a scanning device for a major US metropolitan city.
To support the development of its product innovations, Unifoil utilizes “cutting edge” technology — literally. “Only converting materials of exceptional cut quality are acceptable to printers and end-users such as Warner Lambert, Gillette, Cadbury, and Estee Lauder,” says Joe Funicelli, president/CEO. Unifoil long ago entered a relationship with Maxson Automatic Machinery Co. to ensure that quality sheeted stock was delivered. It is a relationship that has been strengthened with subsequent sheeters.
Unifoil recently installed an electronic, dual-motor drive retrofit package to increase its speed and cutoff accuracy. The growth of the UniLustre business dictated more production capacity, and a decision was made to purchase a Maxson dual rotary knife sheeter “to fulfill that need and guarantee the quality that the industry requires,” explains Funicelli. “We have a relationship of trust that goes back many years. We have a high level of confidence in Maxson equipment, their personnel, and their responsiveness,” he says.
However, the company did research and consider several sheeter manufacturers before deciding the Maxson DFK sheeter was the right piece of equipment. Funicelli notes that once the dual rotary sheeter was installed, Unifoil “immediately saw a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in productivity.”
The DFK is equipped with a pivot-arm shaftless rollstand of self-loading design with the capacity to lift 72-in.-dia rolls weighing 10,000 lb. The rollstand has automatic tension control and emergency stop braking with a 6-in. skew adjustment. A roll of stock is positioned between the two lifing arms that pick up the roll with the aid of a 5-hp hydraulic motor.
“We have decided that ordering an additional rollstand will give us the ability to make-ready a roll and, with the incorporation of an automatic splicing component, change rolls on-the-fly, giving us the ability to run continuously,” reports Funicelli.
At the present time, the first one or two sheets of a new roll are diverted to a reject gate. When the auto-splicing feature is engaged, the spliced sheet will be rejected.
“With so much automation on the DFK, we consider this sheeter nearly a single-operator function,” says plant manager Dwight Pennell. “In fact, we found the DFK sheeter just as easy to set up and operate as the stationary bed sheeter, which is designed for short runs and frequent web changes.”
Job parameters are entered on a touchscreen microprocessor controller that also makes continual accuracy calculations and logs pertinent data.
“A clean, precisely cut sheet is what we must have to send the printer, and that's what we're getting,” notes Pennell. “We cut-to-register to within tolerances of plus or minus 0.015 inch with a cut so clean that, even without the aid of dust collection equipment, we send an acceptable product directly to the printer.”
There's no room for registration error on the holographic bus passes read by a scanning device Unifoil produces. “Cut perfection is critical for this product,” Pennell asserts. He adds that Unifoil also has gained cost savings and reduced waste on this project. “The accuracy and precision cutting have reduced waste by more than 2 percent — a significant sum of product, and money, considering our volume,” he explains.
With the addition of Thermo Web's patented Steam-Foil system, installed between the unwind and the sheeter, Unifoil achieves curl control and remoisturization in the converting process. Funicelli says, “The system injects high-pressure steam to the back of the paper so it relaxes the fibers. We can maintain a flat sheet in different environmental conditions, no matter where we ship it, since those fibers of the paper have already been relaxed.”
Also on the finishing side is a new embosser/calender from Verduin Machinery. The Verduin enables Unifoil to put a texture emboss into its entire range of products, from 25# paper to 38-pt board. Funicelli says the equipment provides a deep embossing in many different patterns up to 68 in. wide and is used for both rollstock and sheetstock.
At any given time, the company maintains “a signficant amount of tonnage of rollstock for converting,” Pennell says. “This allows extremely quick response and rapid turnaround for our customers. When so much product is running through the DFK, we appreciate the design of the machine. It is ergonomically friendly.”
One example is the sheeter's tape section — a mechanism similar to a conveyor belt — which is a major factor in visual inspection. “Some sheeters have very wide tapes through the tape section,” says Pennell. “Because of narrower tapes, the Maxson DFK's tape section allows excellent visibility, and we find easy access throughout.”
The continuous off-load feature permits no interruption in production. The machine simply ramps down in speed and collects sheeted material in the tape section while the finished skids reportedly are offloaded from the stacker in crisp, perfect 61-in. ice blocks.
All in all, summarizes Funicelli, the new machinery is “terrific.” He adds, “The Maxson really helped us maintain and grow our output according to our plan. We anticipated additional business, we received that business, and the Maxson sheeter helped us get it out. Unifoil has always been committed to investing in machinery that ensures perfect product. The Maxson DFK has demonstrated a continuation of that principal.”Tools of the Trade
Total plant size: 140,000 sq ft
Operation: 100 employees/3 shifts
Curl control: Thermo Web Systems
Slitting/rewinding: Genic; Arrow; Goebel
Coating: Black Clawson; Inta-Roto; Lembo
Transfer metallizing: Crown Roll Leaf
Unifoil Corp., Passaic Pk., NJ; 973/365-2000; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maxson Automatic Machinery Co., Westerly, RI; 401/596-0162
Thermo Web Systems, Auburn, MA; 508/791-8171
Verduin Machinery, Paterson, NJ; 973/742-9789; 800/881-4864
Arrow Converting Equipment, Midland, ON, Canada; 705/528-0167
Black Clawson Converting Machinery, Fulton, NY; 315/598-7121; 800/338-3660
Crown Roll Leaf —, Paterson, NJ; 973/742-4000; 800/631-3831
Genic Inc., Richmond, VA; 804/226-2907
Goebel-Matik North America, West Hartford, CT; 860/232-2323
Inta-Roto, Richmond, VA; 804/222-4809
Lembo Corp., Midland, Canada; 705/528-0167