27 April 2009

Rofin?s Precise Perforations Enhance Product Shelf Life

The shelf-life of perishable food has a great influence on its value. The freshness of these products is largely determined by air-ventilation and the preservation of humidity within the packaging. Packaging technology is increasingly demanding precise control of perforations, as the ability to control and optimise the hole dimensions can further enhance the shelf life of fresh food products. This means less waste, lower costs and ultimately more attractive pricing for the customer.

The new StarPerfo Advanced (Fig.1) uses Rofin’s Web Movement Compensation System (WMC) to achieve complete compensation of web movement during laser processing of packaging materials, producing the precise and repeatable perforated holes required to achieve extended shelf life.

Higher profitability and higher production speeds.
The growth in markets such as health foods and snacks, has driven the requirement for not only attractive presentation, but extended shelf life for organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, dried fruit and cereals. An additional requirement has also arisen for multi-chamber trays used for multi-component snacks. For these products each chamber requires perforating differently, to optimise the storage life of the ingredients within that particular chamber.

When a laser pulse hits fast moving material, the resultant quality of the hole may not be as required. If pulse duration and web speed exceed certain values, the holes can become visibly oval. In many cases, material that has been produced at high speeds may not be of the accuracy required to allow the specified air exchange and is therefore deemed unusable. Historically, to overcome this issue the web speed is often reduced resulting in higher production costs.

The introduction of Rofin’s WMC technology allows precise perforation on many materials, including some that previously could not have been processed at profitable rates, such as thick films (> 100 microns) or films comprising of sophisticated material combinations. Rofin’s WMC system dramatically cuts material waste and in some cases quadruples previously achievable web speeds. This new Rofin solution operates across a comprehensive speed range, from start up (0) to greater than 500m per minute.

Complete solutions for laser-optimised packaging from the industry specialist
Rofin’s new WMC system has been developed by our product designers who have over 30 years of experience in processing materials on web systems. The company’s CO2 systems business unit, located in Starnberg is the global market leader in this industry sector and is the only supplier to provide not only the laser source but a complete solution. Rofin use their own laser sources as a starting point and match them with optics, scanner heads, machines and software to provide the optimum technical solution. A graphical user interface allows user-friendly control of the entire system including previews of possible perforation and scribing speeds.

Rofin carry out customer specific trials, under real production conditions at their in-house application lab, to establish the optimum parameters for any given application. Customer presence at these applications trials is welcomed, as this allows all technical options to be investigated in order to meet the customer’s specific and unique requirements. All systems produced by Rofin are backed by the worldwide sales and service network providing timely response and support to any location in the field.

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