The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) hosted its first Manufacturing Symposium during the International Coatings Expo (ICE) in Atlanta, GA on Nov. 5-7 2001. The symposium, which was held in conjunction with the Federation of Societies for Coating Technology (FSCT) at the Georgia World Congress Center, offered a variety of presentations that covered the principles and latest equipment in the basic manufacturing processes of mixing and dispersion. Speakers also discussed blending equipment, scheduling and automation.
The symposium opened with “Introducing The New QMAX Series Supermill” by John Sneeringer of Premier Mill. According to the company, this new mill has the capability to produce dispersion products with a demonstrated quality maximum which is beyond the capability of existing fine media mills operated under the same conditions of agitator tip speed and media size, type and load.
The QMAX mill demonstrates the capability to produce higher transparency dispersions which should allow enhanced styling effects in automotive OEM finishes and printing inks, concluded Mr. Sneeringer. In ceramics, the AP disc technology can produce finer particle size ceramics, generate nanosize particles with narrow distributions and in electronic printing inks, the finer particle size attainable via this mill could allow even finer printed circuits to be developed.
“Taking Today’s Technology to the Next Level” was presented by Dan McKenney of Novaflow Systems. In his presentation, Mr. McKenney gave a brief history of the ink business. He said that 80 percent of the users of automated dispensers use only 20 percent of the tools available. A number of factors such as increased competition and lower margins resulted in the evolution of dispensing.
According to Mr. McKenney, dispensing companies developed computer technology to meet these demands. Some of these changes included development of in-house programming departments, user-friendly Windows-driven platforms and powerful IMS software programs. All of this was developed to meet the requirements of the customer and, in turn, their customers. The bulk of these advancements are presently under-utilized, said Mr. McKenney. However, a great deal of progress has been made in recent years. He concluded by identifying current capabilities such as batch tracking, ink estimation programs and off-site software access to monitor system performance, manage stocks and color data.
“Ink Mixing – Why is Mixing So Important?” by Peter Holman of Holman Engineering, Inc., discussed mixing specifications, raw material quality control and fluid mechanics. He also discussed the importance of horsepower, pumping capacity and shear rate.
In his presentation, “Development of Enhanced Serial Mixing,” Michael Pearce of Reynolds Industries discussed the superiority of the helical blade over anchor and paddle type blades.
After showing a short video that demonstrates serial mixing, Mr. Pearce explained that this feature can be used to help de-aerate products by lifting material off the bottom of the vessel and exposing it to the vacuum at the top of the vessel. “In one instance I can remember, an ink customer of ours began to de-aerate in the mixing vessel and was able to cut his passes on a three roll mill by 70 percent,” Mr. Pearce said.
“Evaluating Your Manufacturing Efficiency,” by Jim Bailen, INX International Co., explored the idea of updating processes to maximize efficiency.
“For many years manufacturing companies have installed new equipment, trained operators and hired consultants with the hope of increasing their plant’s partial or overall efficiency,” Mr. Bailen said. “On the one hand, they have an old process that has become as comfortable as a pair of slippers, and on the other, a new state-of-the-art process that is as new to everyone as one’s first child.”
“New Vertical Bead Mill Design for High Viscosity Processing,” by Harry Way of Netzsch, Inc. outlined some advantages that the design of this new machine offers. “This machine design addresses the processing difficulties for the newest ink chemistry in terms of dispersion efficiency and temperature control while increasing productivity,” said Mr. Way. “The NKM system INKA has been designed for offset printing ink manufacturing, specifically for the production of high viscosity or paste inks such as UV offset inks, sheetfed inks, heatset, screen printing inks and high viscous additives for inks. Of course the machine is suitable for other dispersion operations where processing high viscosity formulations with precise temperature control is required.”
“UV Curable Ink Milling–Milling Temperature Sensitive Inks,” by Jeff Pawar, Draiswerke Inc., discussed the need for high efficiency milling as a result of the growth of UV and other energy curable printing processes.
“With the growth of these UV markets, there is now more than ever a need for high efficiency milling of temperature sensitive products for liquid and paste inks,” said Mr. Pawar. “Media mills that are considered high efficiency need to provide high energy density milling chambers combined with high flow rate capabilities. Due to the risk of polymerization of UV curable inks inside a mill, the importance of cooling these chambers cannot be stressed enough.”
“Milling Systems and Automation,” presented by Kurt Scott of Sun Chemical Corporation, discussed the preparation, planning, benefits and drawbacks of automated milling systems. Mr. Scott cited some of the benefits such as reduced costs, improved consistency and cycle time improvements. Some of the drawbacks he named were training, maintenance and cost. “Quality control is a necessity,” said Mr. Scott. “Companies should go back and take a look at their measurement systems.”
“Bead Mill ZR120–A New Approach for Submicron Grinding,” by Olaf Eichstaedt, Buhler Inc., introduced the company’s new centrifugal bead mill for the processing of highly concentrated mill bases. The two major effects of acting in the grinding chamber of the ZR120 are explained: centrifugal forces compress the beads and keep them away from the guard sieve while drag forces created by the product flow through the media have the opposite effect. The intensity of the media contacts can be adjusted and controlled throughout the production process.
Wayne Bice of Color Converting Industries presented “Good and Bad Experiences with Implementing Dispensers in Ink Rooms.” Mr. Bice discussed the evaluation and implementation of dispensers, mechanical considerations and software considerations. Mr. Bice stressed that putting in the wrong system can by costly and retrofitting, upgrading/downgrading or replacing a system is a project that can be avoided.
“In order to purchase the right system you need to do research and be prepared up front. Treat purchasing a dispenser the same as you would any capital piece of process equipment,” Mr. Bice said. “Make sure it works with your process. Make sure it is justified. Wasted capital, regardless of who is paying for it, is a loss.”
“Formulation Variables in Water- Based Dispersion and Ink Manufacture” by Lisa Hahn, Flexo Tech, Inc., explored the relationship between the components of an ink dispersion.
“The interactions between the various major components of a dispersion are competitive in nature, making the prediction of stability very difficult,” said Ms. Hahn. “Each ingredient has the potential to interact with two or more components. Efficacy of any one of these ingredients in the formulation will depend on the degree and type of interactions it has with the other species present. Varying the order of addition of the raw materials can affect which ingredients interact with one another.”
Geary Walpole of Schwerdtel Corporation presented “An Introduction to Ink Filling Techniques.”
“The ink cartridge over the last four years has finally presented itself as a user-friendly package for the pressman with the primary containers and technology by Heidelberg, Accel Systems, Tecnotrans, Sonoco, and Ritter/RK,” said Mr. Walpole. “Fountain ink management systems as well as hand-held cartridge guns have been the catalyst needed to support a container that can be quickly employed to evenly dispense your products to the fountain.”
“Paste Ink Dispensing and Automated Self-Cleaning Mixing Systems,” by Paul Englram, BEK Systems Inc., outlined requirements of paste ink dispensers. Systems need to be affordable, smaller systems are required for in-plants and there is a need for improved software for integration, reporting and data management.
“Connectivity in the Industrial Environment,” by Ken Falk, Integrated Solutions, Mettler Toledo-North America, covered the changing face of data. The desire to share data is driving organizations to connect the front office to the manufacturing floor, stated Mr. Falk. He also stressed that ease of use for the operator is critical.
The symposium ended with the presentation, “Totally Integrated Manufacturing–Next Step of Enterprise Automation” by Kevin Maguire, Siemens Industrial Automation Software. Mr. Maguire stated that standard interfaces such as OPC, XML, ODBC (OLE DB) can help integrate proprietary devices. “These standards and technologies need to be in the core architecture of new systems that get implemented at the automation level,” he said. “Developing a strategy to integrate the information from disparate production systems and devices with business systems is the foundation of creating an integrated manufacturing enterprise. Having a good strategy will provide flexibility to adapt in the future.”
Reaction To Seminar
NAPIM’s first Manufacturing Symposium proved to be quite a success, as the sessions were informative and attendance was high. “It really turned out great,” said Joe Cichon, senior vice president of product and manufacturing technology at INX International and chair of the symposium. “We had some great lectures and some positive feedback.”
“I was very happy with the seminar,” said James Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director. “The people who attended were pleased with the program’s quality as well as the proximity to the show.”
“I’m really pleased with the seminar,” agreed George Fuchs, NAPIM’s environmental affairs and information systems officer. “The presentations have been high quality. There have been a number of emerging technologies that have been discussed. You have a different audience. They are almost all engineers, and they understand these presentations. They don’t accept things at face value. They want to know if these technologies really work.”
Many of the attendees praised the symposium’s educational value. “The seminar introduced me to different processes, and it lets you out of the box,” said Mr. Bice of Color Converting Industries. “It’s very informative.”
“I think it’s been good and it’s been needed,” said Larry LePore of U.S. Ink. “The Technical Conference is great, but there has been little done on the manufacturing side.”
Presenters also enjoyed the opportunity to share their expertise.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mr. Walpole. “Ink companies should send more representatives to this program.”
“I thought the seminar went well,” Mr. Pawar added. “There were a lot of very good questions. The ink people who were there are the decision-makers.”
Judging by the success of this year’s initial manufacturing symposium, it is likely that NAPIM officials may consider offering a similar program in the future.