“We didn’t even know we were having process problems.”
It’s an all-too-common phrase we hear from our customers, when they realize the level of understanding available to them now in their manufacturing operation.
Simply put, you can’t solve an adhesion problem that doesn’t exist, and we’re willing to bet that it does.
• How do manufacturers go about finding these hidden, but massively impactful, manufacturing problems that exist in adhesion-related processes?
Sure enough, it’s a process.
Let’s look at an example from the Film & Flexible Packaging Industry, but that can apply easily to any manufacturing operation:
1. Adhesion problems can start before materials hit the factory floor.
The first step to treating materials effectively (i.e. corona, flame, solvent wiping, abrading, plasma, etc.) to achieve the best adhesion, is to establish a baseline understanding of the surface quality of the materials you’re starting with, prior to putting it through your manufacturing operation.
In the instance of film and flexible packaging, if a manufacturer doesn’t understand the condition of the film’s surface they’re sourcing, problems in the next step can arise.
Simply put, knowing what you’re starting with from a surface-level perspective, is giving you the best chance to tune the rest of your operation to create the best product.
2. Adhesion can be made less successful without knowing optimal treatment levels.
So you’ve determined the quality of the material surfaces that you’re getting from your supplier, but now you have to corona or flame treat them before you can print, prime or seal the surface.
No matter what process you’re using to prepare your material surface for adhesion, optimizing each step is critical to achieve successful bonds.
These steps include:
- Choosing the most effective treatment method for your process, i.e. flame or corona for your film processing
- Determining the optimal level of treatment to avoid under and over treatment of film. Overtreatment means damaged film and high costs associated with excessive energy relating to corona or flame treatment. Undertreatment means the surface isn’t being activated to optimal level for adhesion.
You gain the confidence of knowing that you can move the materials forward in your operation with virtually, no risk.
3. Maximum adhesion depends on the in-place processes remaining in control.
Over time, processes slowly deviate from their set tolerances.
Whether due to the human factor, or purely statistical reasons in automated operations, a manufacturing process is only as good as the attention placed on it to remain consistent.
While this third step is heavily reliant on the prior step being completed, it is almost equally as important, if not more so, to a successful operation.
In short, a process like corona treating film prior to printing will only remain an effective treatment, so long as the corona treater is operating at its peak performance that keeps the process in control.
4. The storage of materials affects their level of material surface quality.
Your film has been corona treated and is prepared for the next step, but there’s a break between steps. It is now time to store your materials until they are sold to a customer or shipped to another location for further processing.
As corona treatment temporarily activates the surface energy of film, making it far more ready to accept paint or other coatings, the surface quality immediately starts to decay and revert back to its original state i.e. aging.
For manufacturers that rely on additional facilities to complete their processing, an obvious issue arises. The final materials may not be the “same” material that was produced at the end of the line, weeks or even days later (in some instances).
Aging affects materials, and not having awareness about the environmental effects of storage can lead to problems in the final product. Understanding and determining the length at which your material can be stored before it has begun to change back to its original state is crucial to achieving best adhesion.
What materials are you using in your operation, and what steps are currently left up to chance?
Drop us a line using the form below, and let us know where you think your problems are occurring.