The 20-15 Vision Solutions inspection system includes several new features focusing on newer product lines. Products with attached wings require different algorithms capable of discerning a folded wing from a defect. The system determines the position of the front and back wings and verifies their integrity. Additionally, the system detects splices, contamination and other defects in the wings. All 20-15 systems can be connected to the internet for real-time adjustments, modifications and upgrades. Images of 10-50 defective products can be displayed for review and/or saved for future review at the system or over an LAN. All inspection regions are easily positioned or resized by clicking and dragging to the correct location.
Two new features available with the 20-15 system are options to add a camera for glue inspection and a camera to verify highloft integrity and position. The glue inspection camera option uses a high intensity ultra-violet LED to illuminate the glue characteristics. The highloft inspection uses a standard white LED for illumination. Both options integrate fully with the standard system and can be added to existing systems after installation.
AccuSentry offers line scan camera technology for the inspection of baby diapers, adult incontinence products and training pants. As shown in this image, an area camera captures the image of a region while a line scan camera captures one narrow segment of a product and builds up the image as the product moves across the camera. An Encoder is used to provide line trigger signals to the line scan camera. The trigger signals are periodically spaced to coincide with the amount of web that has moved across the camera’s one-pixel field of view. Line scan imaging uses a single line of pixels to build up seamless two-dimensional images of moving products.
For about five years, AccuSentry has been using the line scan technology to inspect continuously moving webs. In 2008, AccuSentry successfully adopted the technology for the inspection of baby diapers, adult incontinence and training pants.
The advantages of line scan technology are smaller footprint, more uniform lighting and the ability to inspect through a very tight space. The disadvantages are additional complexity and costs. To capitalize on advantages, AccuSentry has successfully integrated the line scan and area camera technology into a single system. Within a single system, the area cameras can be used to inspect smaller components that do not require a large footprint and the line scan cameras can be used to inspect production sections with a larger footprint.
Aspex has unveiled the F-135 model for spunbond and meltblown inspection. The system has been supplied for several new projects and it is a lower cost option to the more expensive floor standing model design. Aspex recently sold a unit to Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG for its new, state-of-the-art pilot facility.
The F135 has a one-meter-long inspection area. A shuttle carries and positions the spinneret to and through the inspection area. The spinneret is first placed on the source side of the shuttle by an overhead crane. Once in place, the source shuttle is moved by the operator so the first section of the spinneret is within the inspection area. The operator starts the automatic inspection process. The operator logs in and specifies the spinneret to be tested. This retrieves data on the spinneret’s dimensions, capillary size, capillary shape and the measurement tolerances for the inspection. Automatic inspection then begins.
After inspecting the first meter, the SpinTrak signals the operator to advance the shuttle. The spinneret is now moved toward the receiver side for the second meter to be inspected. The spinneret is moved into the inspection area and the entire spinneret is inspected. After completion of the inspection, the spinneret is returned to the feeder side for removal. Shuttle movement in the F135 system can be motorized for fully automatic unattended operation.
According to Cognex, web inspection continues to be a growing trend even in today’s economy. “Installing a web inspection system is no longer an add-on or after-thought for new spunbond lines,” said Bob Chiricosta, director of marketing. “For the last several years virtually all new spunbond lines have included a web inspection system from their initial conception. Today, with lines running lighter, thinner and faster than ever before, web inspection is the only way to guarantee the high quality production that customers require.” He added that upgrading older lines with a state-of-the-art web inspection system increases their profitability and viability.
Another trend Cognex is seeing is the acceptance of web inspection on spunlace lines. “The expansion of the wipes market with newer, wider and faster lines also requires web inspection for producers to remain competitive,” explained Mr. Chiricosta. “Knowing that you have a quality problem the minute it starts rather than after making several rolls of off-spec material has never been more beneficial than it is today. Making a roll of second quality material with holes, specks, thin spots and clumps doesn’t cost any less than a best quality roll, but it never sells for the same amount.” He stressed that with today’s cost increases in raw materials, energy and overhead, finding these problems as soon as they occur gives web inspection a faster ROI than ever before.
Another inspection area that is gaining acceptance is formation analysis and web quality monitoring. New technology that allows for real-time, on-line web quality analysis allows operators to make process changes that impact visual quality before large quantities of off-spec materials are produced.
Equitech’s online color monitoring system is designed to monitor color in molten polymer applications and consists of an analyzer and probe. In nonwovens applications, this measurement is done at the end of the extruder, typically in the adapter prior to the die. It is done by using a standard 0.5- to 20-inch (transducer) port to mount the Equitech probe. The system works by sending light to the melt and bringing reflected light back to the analyzer via fiber optics. Actual online color measurements can then be processed instantaneously.
The Reflection Polymer Melt Probe looks like a melt transducer. Installation and typical care is the same. The fiber optics can be up to 10 meters long. Light is reflected off the molten polymer through a sapphire window. The probe is tested to withstand 400°C and 5000 PSI.
Garnett Controls (UK) is a leading manufacturer of fiber weight control systems for carding. The company’s Rollaweigh system is a control system for feeding fiber to cards in the nonwovens industry. The system automatically inspects fiber throughput and makes compensatory adjustments to the in-feed system to ensure consistent quality control. Garnett specializes in retrofit systems. That is, on-line inspection and control systems that can be fitted to customers’ existing machinery in order to improve product regularity and increase production.
The latest Rollaweigh Series 8 system features novel lightweight engineering in a modular construction. The twin weigh zone gives accurate feed control for both long- and short-term regularity and has proven to be a winning formula. Single-zone systems are available for specific applications such as ultra short cards and blending applications. A key feature of the Garnett Controls range is the focus on inspection before processing and the automatic adjustment of density prior to the formation of the nonwoven. This allows on-line quality assurance as well as quality control. Integrated on-line inspection and moisture control is also available.
For quality and process control of films, foils and nonwovens, Gintronic AG has developed the economical and easy-to-use Water Vapour Transmission Rate Tester EasyPerm 650. This device (shown here) is based on the relative measuring procedure for water vapour permeability using a capacitive humidity sensor with no carrier gas required. The device is ideal for customers with high sample test requirements and high sample throughput. It conforms to ASTM E398-03, ISO 15106-1, JIS K 7129, NF H00-044 standards and others.
Advanced Testing Instruments (ATI) is the exclusive North American representative of Gintronic.
IDM Instruments Pty Ltd has recently updated its Gelbo Flex Tester with Particle Counter with the new Solair Particle Counter used alongside the machines. IDM Instruments has been manufacturing the Gelbo Flex Tester with Particle Counter for years now, and it has proved to be an important testing instrument used within the nonwovens industry to ascertain the amount of loose fibers (lint) to shed from nonwoven materials.
The latest Particle Counter used with the machine allows the customer to choose between four different models. Each model has the same features, including a 1.0 cfm flow rate, with the difference being in the measuring channels and sizing ranges offered.
The compact and lightweight unit has a stainless steel enclosure with a 5.7-inch touch screen panel and can store up to 3000 samples. It has a built-in thermal printer for fast and convenient test reports and can also be operated using LMS Xchange Software Program.
According to Isra Surface Vision, in a down economy, it is more important than ever for the nonwovens makers to produce efficiently and cost effectively. “Nonwovensproducers want to partner with suppliers that can deliver and support the same technology across all their production lines globally to ensure consistent quality,” commented Maureen Macken, marketing manager for Isra Surface Vision.
To maintain consistent service from region to region, Isra has a Customer Support and Service Center (CSSC) that is the central service contact point for all customer inquiries. At the CSSC, customers speak directly with a qualified system engineer. Regardless of whether they have questions about their application, system, software user settings or remote system management, their inquiries receive immediate attention. In case of emergency, Isra can allocate personnel resources on short notice and resolve any system problem quickly and efficiently by remote or on-site service.
Ms. Macken also stated that surface inspection is now standard in some nonwovens segments such as spunbond and spunlace production, where quality expectations are high. “This technology is essential for nonwovens producers to achieve qualified vendor status with many end user customers,” she said. “However, the value in web inspection is not in the detection of defects; it is in the classification of defects, root cause analysis for process management and roll data analysis to optimize converting. An advanced inspection system can analyze the roll and the manufacturer can make objective decisions to remove specific defects to minimize waste.”
To eliminate defects while maximizing yield, Isra offers a Rewind Manager Option that will automatically stop the rewinder at the location of a specific defect for removal. These capabilities add value to the inspection process by increasing throughput and reducing waste.
JAMES H HEAL & Co
James H. Heal has designed a range of innovative instruments to ensure that manufacturers and suppliers can have confidence in their nonwoven product performance. An intelligent Bursting Strength Tester, TruBurst² is a fully-pneumatic instrument that comfortably exceeds the exacting requirements of the latest ISO, ASTM and WSP standards and is used to test a variety of materials, including all forms of textiles, nonwovens, paper, board and plastics. Available as two models with a capacity of 145 PSI or 14.5 PSI, a range of products can be tested including lightweight tissues and wet wipes.
Lenzing Instruments GmbH
In recent years, Austria-based Lenzing Instruments has extended its range of quality and process control equipment for the nonwovens industry. Customers benefit from the high quality testing instruments and continuous innovation in terms of increased productivity and competitiveness.
Apart from offering the two standard setting instruments Lister AC and Wetback for testing of the liquid strikethrough time as well as the rewet properties of nonwoven coverstocks, Lenzing Instruments now offers further instruments for laboratory use—GE-TE-FLOW and VDM 01.
GE-TE-FLOW is a fully automatic, computer-controlled instrument for determination of the water permeability of geotextiles, fleece and similar materials. VDM 01 is a digital micrometer for the manual measurement of the thickness of fleece, tissue, paper and plastic materials. This thickness tester can also be used for the thickness measurement of samples in the wet state.
For online monitoring of nonwoven webs, Lenzing Instruments has introduced NIS 200, which gives real-time feedback about aesthetic and physical defects of the web, such as holes, thin and thick spots, cloudiness, optical density, homogeneity, dirt spots, contamination, printing defects and process drifts.
In cooperation with Scienta Oy, Lenzing Instruments offers the Scienta system for real-time monitoring of area weight, moisture content and thickness. Depending on the material, either a measurement technology based on beta radiation absorption or absorption of near infrared light is applied for area weight and moisture measurement.
The Mahlo DFI (Dynamic Flutter Independent) Beta Sensor uses a new sensing technique that allows complete insensitivity to web flutter throughout the entire measurement gap, the smallest beta sources and the highest measurement performance. The sensor also features very fast scanning speeds with ultra-narrow web defect detection as well as long-term, trouble-free and cost-effective operation in even the harshest environments.
The new Mahlo patented DFI Beta Sensor is not affected by web flutter, passline change, ripples, sags or edge curls. The DFI measures accurately throughout changes in loft, density or thickness. The Mahlo DFI uses a multiple detector technique that captures the full measurement signal regardless of where the web is within the gap. The resulting measurement is determined only by the basis weight, not by the position of the web in the measurement gap. This solution is quite simple and industrially rugged, but it is completely effective. So effective, in fact, that Mahlo has been awarded international patents for the DFI.
An additional advantage of the Mahlo DFI is that measurement gaps can now be substantially increased without worrying about additional web movement. Soft, easily damaged webs, or wet coatings no longer need to run the risk of contacting the sensor due to a narrow gap. The Kr85 DFI can use measurement gaps of two inches and more while measuring even light weight webs.
Palas is a supplier of filter test systems, aerosol generators, aerosol dilution systems and aerosol spectrometers used in the quality control and product development of filters and filter media. The Palas filter test systems and measurement technology have proven themselves successful worldwide in practical use by their excellent reproducibility, exact measurement results and reliability. The heart of Palas filter test systems is the new white light aerosol spectrometer welas digital 2000/3000, offering high resolution and exactitude in measuring particle size and concentration. The welas aerosol sensors are connected with the welas digital control unit via optical fibers with a length of up to 50 meters. One can choose between five different aerosol sensors, which are easily exchangeable for maximum concentration ranges from CNmax = 800 P/cm³ (Sensor 2500) up to CNmax = 200,000 P/cm³ (Sensor 2070).
The new welas digital 2000/3000 is now equipped with a new digital signal processing. A new coincidence correction feature is integrated in the software, extending the maximum concentration limit up to 106 P/cm³ or 5000 mg/m³(ISO Fine). In welas digital 3000 two sensors are integrated in one device. This makes a quasi simultaneous particle measurement possible, e.g. in very high concentrations in upstream with the welas aerosol sensor 2070 and in low concentrations in downstream with the welas aerosol sensor 2500.
Pegas Nonwovens s.r.o., a subsidiary of Pegas Nonwovens SA, has launched testing equipment for the plasma treatment of nonwoven textiles in Dvur Králové nad Labem, Czech Republic. The testing equipment is part of an R&D project focused on the treatment of next-generation nonwoven textiles using atmospheric plasma, which was announced by the company last spring.
Pegas is running the project in cooperation with the Institute of the Physical Electronics associated with the Faculty of Natural Science of the Masaryk University in Brno and Inotex s.r.o., based in Dvur Králové nad Labem, where the equipment is located.
The testing equipment will be used to treat nonwoven textiles using atmospheric plasma discharge. It consists of a nonwoven textile unwinding unit, a plasma unit, equipment for liquid chemical application and a drying and a winding machine.
The installed equipment will introduce in-line nonwovens testing with the aim of verifying the impact of plasma treatment on fiber surface properties in nonwoven textiles and potentially achieve permanent chemical action through the fixation of active particles on the fiber surface. In addition, the equipment may enable research into the interaction of the plasma pre-treatment and of subsequent applications, which may potentially also include nano-treatment.
The project is being funded by a financial grant from the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. The planned project budget is up to CZK 70 million during the 2008–2011 period and the total size of the grant may reach up to CZK 25 million.
The usage of plasma is expected to ensure improvements in the required durability parameters and allow for a significant reduction in the amount of currently used functional additives, which are used to achieve the necessary parameters of nonwoven textiles for hygiene applications. Further benefits of the project include an improvement of textile properties at lower costs and an improvement in environment friendliness.
Schwing Fluid Technik
The spunbond or meltblown die is a critical component in the nonwovens line where careful attention is needed to ensure proper fabric formation and uniformity in the process. Proper maintenance and cleaning of dies during a die change are important for the performance and efficiency of a spunbond/meltblown line. When capillaries in the spinneret plate on a spunbond line are out of shape, dirty, or clogged, fibers can “dog-leg” when exiting the capillary, causing them to wrap around the other fibers.
The initial thermal cleaning to remove the polymer out the spinneret plate in a furnace is the most important step. Shown here, the VacuClean system avoids these problems through effective removal of the polymer with their thermal cleaning system with very low energy consumption. The VacuClean process is based on the principle of a vacuum pyrolysis, a decomposing process under vacuum, at temperatures up to 450°C. Pyrolysis gases are cleaned by an integrated catalytic waste gas converter ensuring dangerous gases are not released in the air, the system is safe, and without smell. The VacuClean is unique from other systems because of its oxidation phase.
Streat Instruments Ltd
Streat Instruments moisture testing and inspection systems are designed to assist users in optimizing production processes and maximizing productivity, quality, operating efficiencies and profitability. Moisture is a critical factor in many application areas and processes. By measuring the moisture, significant benefits can be obtained. Streat systems are used on a variety of fibers, yarns and fabrics.
Nonwovens is a significant application area, especially where hygroscopic fibers such as cotton and viscose are used. Many major healthcare and sanitary product manufacturers utilize Streat systems to ensure optimum product quality. Spunlace processors working with fibers such as cotton or viscose (or blends of these with polyester) also reap significant benefits from the implementation of Streat systems.
The latest generation of the Streat Drycom moisture measurement and control systems continues the Streat tradition of customer-led design and provides advanced functionality and ease of use. The new on-line system is modular, allowing for flexibility in configuration with a compact color touchscreen for operator interface and trending of data and a cost effective OEM ‘Black Box’ variant for seamless integration into OEM control systems or existing plant SCADA systems.
The popular off-line LABCOM system (shown above) has also received a full upgrade, again offering color touchscreen operator interface and advanced PC connectivity and software. Sensors are available to allow testing of moisture from loose fiber through to finished products.
Textest AG of Switzerland has introduced the latest feature of the portable air permeability tester FX 3360 Portair, the addition of a thickness gauge for mobile caliper profile measurements. A magnetic counter plate now makes it possible to measure air permeability and thickness profiles simultaneously. Existing Portairs can easily be retrofitted.
The FX 3360 Portair is designed to test almost any type of material, such as woven and nonwoven fabrics, felts and paper, as long as the web is under tension. It can be used to measure single test points, but its biggest feature is the possibility of displaying profiles. The instrument measures continuously, therefore displaying the profile in real time, without the need to first download the data into a PC.
The hand-held Portair can be guided across the web to obtain a cross profile, or it can simply be held into the production line to get a profile in machine direction. The line speed can be as high as 100 m/min, depending on the selected test point pitch.
Wira Instrumentation has a long standing tradition of developing testing instruments for the fiber and materials industries. Pictured here, the Wira friction tester is used to determine the static and kinetic coefficient of friction of nonwoven fabrics. The unit is quick to set up and easy to operate, with repeatable results.
Kits for testing absorption include the liquid absorbency tester, liquid absorptive capacity tester and liquid wicking rate tester while the Wira run tester is used to evaluate liquid run-off characteristics of nonwovens. The Wira digital thickness gauge can be configured by the addition of the appropriate kit to meet a variety of international test methods for measuring the thickness of materials. Instruments are also available that meet the standards for measuring the thickness of bulky nonwovens.
Additional instruments include the Wira bending length tester, crumple flex tester, stress crack apparatus and sieve shaker. The Wira rapid moisture tester is available for use as a laboratory instrument and also for on-line monitoring and control. The provision of on-line testing and monitoring of a range of parameters including moisture, weight and speed can be applied to existing production lines.