Contributed By:
Saueressig GmbH + Co.
Gutenbergstra�e 1-3, 48691 Vreden, Germany

How to remain successful in today�s fast changing marketplace?

Worldwide, there is excess nonwovens capacity and the big buyers are constantly putting pressure on prices, making it increasingly difficult to make profit on standard roll goods. Unfortunately this problem is exacerbated by the fact that oil prices have steadily increased. Many producers will only survive and prosper if they can add value to the material they are selling and the simplest way to do this is to decorate the web in a way that makes it more attractive and distinctive to the end user. Two technologies at competitive prices are offered by the German company SAUERESSIG GmbH + Co. can provide the answer to this need, ultrasonic bonding and spunlace/hydro-entanglement.

The application of logos, brand names and attractive graphics can be accomplished by both of these very different production methods. Once a web is enhanced in this way its value is greatly increased and unavoidable outlays, such as raw materials and shipping, become less significant parts of the total cost.

How does a producer go about attacking this market?

It is already common practice to use ultrasonic bonding to manufacture and decorate a range of products that cannot be made on thermal bonding/spunlace lines. The next step has to be the introduction of a calender in which the engraved roller can be changed in a matter of minutes, not hours. We know that this is possible in other, closely related industries; therefore it should not take a huge amount of effort and investment to adapt the available technology to the needs of the nonwovens manufacturer. Such a development would enable the producer to have much more flexibility and give their customers the opportunity to hit markets with products that are more appealing to the consumer.

In the past decorating spunlace/hydro-entangled webs has been severely restricted by the available technology and cost. To obtain the attractive effects required to really enhance the product has necessitated a significant investment in a thermal bonding calender and embossing rollers, so that the web could be decorated after forming. In addition to the initial outlay there are ongoing running costs relating to the heating of the oil in the calender and the purchase of new engraved embossing rollers when a new design is required. This is no longer true.

Recent developments in laser engraving technology mean that it is now possible to obtain the desired effects during the web forming process at a fraction of the cost of buying an oil heated calender.

Can forming screens combine design and function in one process?

Two types of forming screens are now available at the German company, both based on advanced laser engraving. One is a seamless nickel sleeve engraved with a micro-porous background that allows for the required water dispersion. This can be overlaid with an infinite variety of designs, logos or patterns. Perfect three-dimensional images can be applied to webs of less than 50 grams per square meter.

Is performance in all shapes and sizes possible?

The second alternative is perhaps even more exciting and was developed by SAUERESSIG itself in-house. A 3 mm thick seamless tube, manufacture to exact tolerances and manufactured from a corrosion resistant alloy, can be laser engraved with almost any imaginable type of three-dimensional image. There is no limit to the number and distribution of pattern repeats that can be engraved within the screen dimensions and the forms chosen can have soft, flowing contours or sharp edges.

Either of the above screens can now be complimented with laser engraved, seamless base drums that are far superior to their standard rolled, welded and punched predecessors. These new drums incorporate several features that help the producer to change screens more quickly and increase productivity. For example, they are engraved with an integral spacing system that eliminates the need for the woven wire mesh screens used in many current applications. They can be engraved with apertures of any shape and size and the open areas can be considerably increased, thus reducing greatly the chances of fibre clogging the system.

A speaker of SAUERESSIG states: �We are sure here are other answers to increasing product value but we suggest that those listed above offer reasonably low cost alternatives for many manufacturers.�

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