Winter’s weather comes with a variety of problems. I hope that folks in the Northeast get a break from all this snow soon. In Cincinnati we have not had to deal with much precipitation this year, but it has been cold and gloomy for too long. Personally, I am ready for spring to come and to the see the flowers pop up. I’m also tired of the getting shocked every time I pet my dog. Also, his hair that generally falls everywhere is now stuck to the side of couch.
On a more serious note, the dry air of winter can have a significant impact on manufacturing processes. The same static that attracts dog hair to a couch will also attract dust on to a non-conductive substrate like plastic or glass. I was working with a customer this week who manufactures credit cards and gift cards with custom logos. They fell prey to the dry, statically charged air of winter which caused a quality issue during these winter months. To create the promotional cards, the company would first digitally print the logo on a PVC substrate. This substrate is then stacked to await lamination. As they pulled each sheet from the stack, a charge would build up on the surface which would attract any dust in the area. The dust needed to be removed before the last clear layer was applied or it showed up as ugly bumps on the card surface. This dust was nearly impossible to clean off and still maintain a good finish on the PVC substrate. They tried to wipe the material off with soft fabric, but the rubbing only increased the static while moving the dust around, not off the laminate.
Using an EXAIR Static Meter, part number 7905, the customer measured 19.5 kV/inch on the PVC sheets before lamination. Because of this charge the customer installed a 36″ Super Ion Air Knife, part number 111036, above the lamination station. The operator would pull a sheet from the stack and pass it under the Super Ion Air Knife. After passing under the Super Ion Air Knife the charge on the sheet read 1.3 kV/Inch, and the dust was removed by the air blowing from the Super Air Knife. This dust removal drastically reduced their scrap levels. In the 3 months of winter, it was accepted that they would loss approximately 15% of all the cards they created do to blemishes on the cards. After installing the Air Knives, they only scrapped 3% of the cards they created. This scrap rate was even better than there summer production. The air knives will now be used year round. The Super Ion Air Knife reduced scrap by 80%! Also, operators no longer tried to clean the dust with cloth, which allowed them to increase their production.