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Flexible packaging lamination  #5 (87), 2010

The choice of the most suitable lamination process is mainly dictated by the end use of the product. Italy-based Rotomec, a member of Bobst Group, offers a range of technical laminating solutions in food and non-food packaging.

For converting companies it is a pre-requisite that the laminator is equipped with the kind of technological features and functions that contribute substantially to improving profitability through highest machine productivity and highest output quality. This means that the equipment, under any operating circumstances, must provide for the given applications the kind of functional, operator-oriented, waste saving and eco-friendly, technical solutions to produce flawless, superior quality laminated products at the lowest cost for the converter, and the best price for its customers.
 These being the signature features of ROTOMEC’s technology, the commercial success met in recent years by their range of laminators comes as no surprise, especially with regard to its top of the range CL 850/1000 laminators.
“Notwithstanding last year’s lower level of investment in new machinery due to the unfavourable economic situation, the CL 850/1000 laminators took the lion’s share of global market investments in advanced technology duplex and triplex laminating equipment“, said Erik Bothorel, a member of Bobst Group Executive Committee and Head of Bobst Group Business Unit Web-fed
The ROTOMEC CL 850 and CL 1000 are high performance laminators that offer a wide scope for line customization, as well as unique solutions relating to adhesive metering/coating and drying that have been specifically developed for top performance at high speed.
Pier Luigi Ratibondi, ROTOMEC System Engineering Director, explains the main technical highlights that have led so many converters to opt for ROTOMEC laminating technology as the solutions providing the highest, fastest and most consistent level of performance in terms of the advantages and benefits they require from a technologically advanced class of equipment.
“The engineering of our range of laminating machines is focused on two main criteria guidelines: achieving the integrated optimization of all machine sections and functions, and adopting a no-compromise approach to the technical and quality aspects of the development.”
“The integrated optimization of all the machine parts enables optimum performance to be achieved in terms of user-friendliness to the advantage of considerably increased production uptime whatever the technology or technologies run on the line: solvent-based, solventless or water-based. Job make-ready and changeovers are very fast, do not require the use of tools, and the optimum accessibility to all the machine sections considerably speeds up the operator’s work for running the machine, cleaning and maintenance.”
“Precise, reliable and consistent web tension control from the unwinders to the rewinder is of paramount importance for the quality of the final laminated structure as it avoids the formation of defects like creases, wrinkles and curls in the material. The tension control system on our machines is extremely sensitive and can be maintained at very low tolerance throughout the very wide range of flexible substrates of varying thickness and physical properties handled by the machine,” he explained.
Another fundamental aspect that has a considerable impact on both the economics of the process and the quality of the output laminated structure is the machine’s ability to control and manage the variables that impact on the efficiency of the adhesive metering and coating, which differ according to the process application.
“Each of the different systems developed by ROTOMEC for the application trolleys - rotogravure, solventless, flexo and semi-flexo are the latest design and very efficient in providing specific advantages for the chosen application. A noteworthy ROTOMEC development is our highly reputed flexo coating system which is widely acknowledged as the highest quality system by imparting a much superior optical quality to the laminated structure through a lower solvent-based adhesive coating weight, but with comparable bond strength.
“The system is especially effective for applying the adhesive directly onto thin aluminium foil at high speed, ensuring the best quality end-product as it prevents the formation of ‘orange peel’ or wrinkles, as well as foil breakage. It also enables a considerable reduction in residual solvent on the substrate, whilst providing flawless, superior quality composite structures.” 
ROTOMEC dryer with dual technology nozzles
Another key area where ROTOMEC technology has succeeded in increasing efficiency and minimizing residual solvent and energy consumption is the drying and ventilation system through the dryer fitted with impingement and flotation type dual technology nozzles.
“In this respect, ROTOMEC drying technology offers other distinctive advantages in terms of equipment functionality and ease of cleaning and maintenance. The nozzles, as well as the rollers and filters, are easily removable and can be cleaned off line,” Pier Luigi. Ratibondi further explained.
“Because of the specific technical solutions devised for lower coating weights, adhesive metering/coating and substrate drying systems, our laminating machines also fit in very well with the sustainability of converting operations, a pivotal aspect of ROTOMEC policy as well as of many of our clients,” he concluded.
“Improved productivity in the converter’s production hall is the goal of ROTOMEC’s optimizing efforts” Erik Bothorel further confirmed. “The continuous introduction of improved process control, technical innovations and automated systems for all ROTOMEC machines, be they laminators or gravure printing presses, is the key of our renowned technology. This benefits from the co-ordinated and cohesive development of the synergy between the two product lines in enhancing the equipment’s performance for the various process applications.”
“A good example of this is by the rotogravure printing machines featuring in-line lamination, whereby the synergistic approach, combined with the longstanding experience and know-how in both processes, has enabled ROTOMEC to establish market leadership in this segment of the converting industry,” he added.
“With the ever increasing pressure on prices and higher demand for more sophisticated multi-layer laminated structures made of costly materials like aluminium foil and pre-printed substrates, solutions which avoid defects in the material and enable drastically reduced material wastage, reductions in the quantity of adhesives applied, as well as reduced machine downtime and lower energy consumption, cannot fail to prove a compelling solution for converters.” Erik Bothorel concluded.


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