Playing Card Manufacturer Gets Dealt a Bad Hand from Static Electricity

Okay, so I’m not talking about counting cards in Las Vegas, like was shown in the movies Rain Man or 21. I’m talking about how a manufacturer of playing cards may count them. I visited a manufacturer of playing cards. It was fascinating learning that they only use specific relative humidity cardstock for certain geographic locations. It totally makes sense once I thought about it, send a “wet” card to a dry geographic location and it will warp or shrink, send a “dry” stock to Atlanta and you’ll get wrinkled swollen cards once they hit the humid air. This manufacturer handled every aspect of the cards. They always ran into issues when it came to a single production line.

This production line would take the printed sheets of cards, which would get placed in a large stack then fed through a cutter that would result in columns of cards, then stack and cut the columns into single cards. They would then get stacked again and the machine would then fan them out. The machine used two friction band conveyors to move the cards at a high rate of speed. They moved so fast it looked as though they overlapped. It was only when you fixated on a single card and followed it you would see it was separated by a few inches from the next.

This machine would stack all the cards up then separate them to each number and suit by dropping them into a chute. Next, it would drop the cards out of those chutes and recombine them into a stack of eight complete decks of cards. It would box them, label it and spit it out. They then went to casinos. This machine was a static nightmare when running dry card stocks during the winter months in the dry air.

Model 7905 Digital Static Meter

The cards would stick together, double feed, and really just leave the company with a bad hand. When I visited though, I had an Ace up my sleeve. I had a Static Meter and a Gen4 Ionizing Point in my possession. The static meter was used to identify the highest static levels in their process, and the Ionizing Point, which we were able to easily hold within 2″ of the cards where they were first jamming. Which was the very first fanning operation. Once the Ionizing Point was installed at this location, rather than seeing any misfeeds or jams within the first 3 stations, the problem moved to “drop station number five”. We then added another to just before the fifth station and saw improvements down to station nine.

Friction / Attachment / Detachment Static

The key observation here was that it was not possible to eliminate the static throughout the entire process. This is because there is a constant generation of static due to friction of the belts sliding under the cards and the cards being stacked then slid out from one another. As soon as the cards would leave the ionized 2″ radius around the Gen4 Ionizing Point the static would begin to regenerate on the surfaces. While it wouldn’t immediately reach a problematic point for this process, it would build up over the course of a few stages. This is why it is critical to place a static eliminator at the point it is causing the problem, rather than just at the beginning of a process, and then assuming static will not come back.

Gen4 Ionizing Points

In order to reach the solution, we implemented an Ionizing Point at each location that was experiencing an issue. The number of finished decks the company was able to produce, increased. They moved on to the packaging station and made their way into the casinos.

If you would like to discuss a Gen4 Ionizing Point or any point of use compressed air process / manufacturing process, please let us know.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR Static Eliminators Remove Static Issues for Multiple Label Printing Process

Recently, I visited a local customer to look at a specific application. This company prints over 146,000 different labels on plastic film, paper and foil. They called because they were seeing several different static related issues during printing and stacking processes.

On their first application, involving a 60″ wide sheeter, they were having an issue with irregularities as the sheet travels over several rollers where it enters the print head of the machine, then is cut and stacked. At the time of the visit, they were using a competitor’s product after the printer but those products were not effectively removing the static. We were able to determine they were not working by using  our Digital Static Meter which told us there was still a 2.7 kV charge after the treatment area. I recommended the customer replace the ineffective units with our 60″ Ionizing Bar. The Ionizing Bar produces a bulk of positive and negative ions to eliminate the surface static of an object when mounted within 2″ of the surface of the material. The bar features a mounting flange that would allow the customer to use the existing bracket for easy installation.

Ionizing Bars Work
Ionizing Bars – available from 3″ – 108″.

The second machine we looked at was a 42″ 3-sheet press. Our readings ranged from 4.2 kV on the top sheet, 1.4 kV middle sheet and 9.9 kV on the bottom sheet going into the press/print head and around 15.6 kV at the discharge. This unit also had another anti-static device taped in place but was clearly no longer operational. I again recommend the Ionizing Bar for this application as well. After speaking with the operator, he was saying he was also seeing an issue with the sheets lifting and trying to separate as they were being stacked. To remedy this problem I recommended using our Super Ion Air Knife at low pressure to blow ionized air from behind the sheet to help it float onto the stack and remove static at the same time. The Super Ion Air Knife is our Super Air Knife with the Ionizing Bar attached and is capable of dissipating 5kV in less than half a second.

Super Ion Air Knife
Super Ion Air Knife provides laminar sheet of ionized air across the length of the knife.

Lastly, we looked at their smaller sheeting machine and on this unit we were seeing around 3.5 kV as they stack was fed into the feeder and 7-8kV at the end stacker. At the beginning of the process we noticed the customer was using an air blowoff on each side of the sheet stack to assist with lifting and getting some separation between the sheets for the mechanical lifter to feed the machine. At this area they were experiencing some issues as occasionally the lifter would pick up more than 1 sheet and cause a jam which shut the system down. It turns out the airflow across the sheets was actually generating a slight static charge as we were seeing higher readings around 4.2 kV. Since they were already using air, I recommended replacing these blowoffs with our Ion Air Jet. This would aid in reducing the static and result in a more effective separation between the sheets allowing for a cleaner lift. For the sheet itself, we would recommended the Ionizing Bar if they were able to mount within 2″ or the Super Ion Air Knife for further mounting distance.

NEW Ion Air Jet
Ion Air Jet produces concentrated ionized airflow.

 

We realize we can’t look at every customer’s process but any photos or videos you could share of your application, we would gladly review and make a possible recommendation. Please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN