Unveiled last spring, and available on the market in the first quarter of 2021, Uteco and Sun Chemical together wanted to present the new project dedicated to the lamination sector, using live streaming for a world premiere of great interest…
DUALAM™ is the name of the latest novelty born in the coating/laminating department of Colognola ai Colli (VR) at Uteco headquarters, a machine that also expresses in its name the technology arisen and developed thanks to the collaboration of Veronese manufacturer with Sun-Chemical and Synaptik, which provided the in-line weight control groups of the two components (NCO, that is isocyanates and OH, polyols, which combined give rise to a polyurethane). The two companies have succeeded in creating a new, highly innovative and performing lamination solution capable of applying a solvent-free adhesive using a semi-flexo system but offering the same performance as solvent-based technology.
Alessandro Bicego, product innovation manager at Uteco presented the configuration of this machine, as technological as it is simple, as results by the path of the material. “The machine consists of 2 coating heads, the lamination unit, 2 unwinders and 1 winder. The whole process starts from the solventless unit where there are 2 steel rollers to dose the gap and the adhesive, 1 sleeve that is easy to manage and very quick for job changes for transfer to next steel roller where converges the primary film which is coated with adhesive”, says Bicego in front of the new Dualam managed by his colleague Simone Rossignoli, senior technician at Uteco’s coating/laminating department who actively participated in the development of the technology. During the world premiere presentation, lamination tests were performed on a 12 micron thick PET film printed in flexo with a 20 micron LDPE film, and using the solvent-free DUALAM™ DCI 017A and DCO 005 adhesives developed by Sun Chemical.
During the set-up phase, the machine works at 250 m/min, a speed that allows you to check that all the parameters are set correctly, before increasing production speed that can reach 500 m/min.
Semi-flexo coating group
One of the main innovations of this machine is the semi-flexo coating group, which, as Bicego clearly explains, “allows extremely precise control as regards the thickness of the adhesive applied during the entire run. The main feature of this unit is represented by Thermilox, a Uteco patent presented a few years ago, based on the use of an anilox sleeve that allows the adhesive to be kept at the pre-set temperature during production process, to improve speed, ease of set-up or job change”.
Another noteworthy element of this system is the washing speed, which guarantees fast changes, a feature that is very useful when switching from a production with two-component adhesive to a single-component. The DUALAM™ laminator in fact allows you to manage 2 configurations, one solventless with 2 coating heads but can also work as a normal solventless machine with single-component adhesive as required for example in paper-based packaging applications.
Great attention was also paid to the lamination unit, consisting of 3 rollers, 2 in chromed steel and one in rubber, which allow for extremely precise laminating, avoiding bubbles formation, curling with stretching film.
The role of adhesives in this technology
Pierangelo Brambilla, Sun Chemical’s global director for lamination and cold-seal products, spoke about the first adhesives developed specifically for this technology and applied with two separate heads in the coating units, which will be followed by others that will enrich the range of the DUALAM™ family. “The adhesives of this family are characterized by a low viscosity of the two components, especially the second (OH), to be applied on the semi-flexo group, a high speed of development of mechanical properties of the adhesive that allows a fast time-to-market, a high decay of primary aromatic amines to ensure the safety of the final consumer. The cross-linking of the adhesive begins immediately after the contact of the two components in the laminating calender and continues in the laminated material in the winding unit, this allows to eliminate the typical problems of solventless adhesives such as telescope and tunneling phenomenon. The laminated material guarantees a high wettability of the solvent-free adhesive technology, regardless of machine speed, print opacity and is comparable in all respects to a solvent-based adhesive, with a low applied weight (1.6-1, 8 g/m2).
“Sun-Chemical’s experience in the printing, lacquering and lamination sector is strategic as it allows the company to act as a single point of reference for printers and converters, supporting the market with its innovative and performing products for flexible packaging
The machine will be available on the market in the first quarter of 2021, the real test for the partner companies of this important project, carried out and presented right in the midst of Covid emergency, but which represents a positive case history and strategic vision on the future: all project partners are global players with the aim of collaborating for the benefit of customers with highly innovative solutions, with excellent performance, and with an ever greener perspective.
Face to face with Alessandro Bicego, Uteco Product Innovation Manager
How important is this new laminator in Uteco’s strategy?
“We are talking about a new frontier as regards solventless laminating, and certainly very important in the family line of laminating machines. In our continuous search to meet customer requests, the need has emerged to reduce polymerization times of solventless glues, with this new product we have certainly succeeded by reducing them by up to 80%. We are satisfied and we believe it is a strategic product for Uteco’s future”.
What is the target of new DUALAM™?
“This machine has been developed for converters who want to reduce operating costs of each order, but why not also speed up delivery times and consequently reduce stock costs of semi-finished product. Thanks to this innovative technology, a converter after a few hours from the lamination phase can easily proceed with next processes such as cutting or delivery”.
When is foreseen the first delivery in Italy?
“We have seen strong interest which will result in more than one installation in the short term”.
How important is this new laminator in Uteco/Sun Chemical’s strategy?
“The importance of this new laminator stems from the fact that it has revolutionized the conventional solvent-free adhesive application system, managing to reach the performance and sustainability targets that we had set for ourselves, guaranteeing our customers an innovative and cutting-edge solution for respond to new market needs”.
Finally, an opinion on this high-level partnership between global players?
“I don’t think we need a presentation of SunChemical/DIC partner. And certainly the success of Uteco comes from these partnerships consolidated by decades of collaboration. Combining the knowledge of global players can only increase the level within the value chain.
Right from the start, the partners involved in this project had a clear idea of the ambitious goal, but they all committed themselves to its achievement with dedication, based on their respective know-how and specificity, from the study of the project on ‘paper’ up to its complete realization with a continuous constructive dialogue on every technical aspect with constant research and finishing of the details to transform an innovative idea into reality”.