29 January 2010

Rofin?s Web Movement Compensation System Increases Speeds and Profitability

Rofin's recently launched web movement compensation (WMC) system enables complete compensation of web movement during laser perforation of packaging materials. Operating across a comprehensive speed range, from 0 to greater than 500m per minute; the system significantly improves productivity whilst at the same time cutting waste.

Higher production speeds increase profitability
When a laser pulse hits fast-moving material the quality of the resultant hole may not be quite as required. If pulse duration and web speed exceed certain values, the holes become visibly oval and there may also be insufficient energy available to completely perforate the material. In many cases, material produced at high speed is not of the accuracy required to allow the specified air exchange for the packaging and is therefore deemed unusable. Historically, to overcome this issue the web speed is reduced resulting in higher production costs. Rofin's WMC system dramatically cuts material waste allowing previously unattainable web speeds to be achieved, in some cases quadrupling previous performance. Web Movement Compensation (WMC) technology also allows satisfactory perforation of materials that previously could not have been processed at profitable rates, such as thick films (>100µm) or films comprising of sophisticated material combinations.

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 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. The consistency and quality of the perforations produced using Rofin’s Web Movement Compensation System (WMC) enhances the performance of packaging used for these applications, ultimately extending their shelf life.

Complete solutions for laser-optimised packaging from the industry specialist
Rofin’s new WMC system has been developed by product designers who have over 30 years of experience in processing materials on web systems. Working in conjunction with customers, trials are run under real winding conditions in order to determine the optimum laser and process parameters for the application. 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. The StarPerfo Advanced is the latest product offering from Rofin for the packaging sector. This self contained system 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.

Rofin offers a complete range of lasers including CO2, Vanadate and Fibre Lasers. Rofin also provides solutions for laser marking, cutting and welding applications.

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