Atmospheric Plasma Treater Increases Folder Gluer Production

When new technology can improve product quality, increase productivity and offer additional cost reductions at an affordable investment, it doesn’t take long for a company to incorporate it into their operation. Such is the case for Green Bay Packaging’s Folding Carton Division (De Pere, WI) and their new atmospheric plasma surface treater.

Green Bay Packaging is an innovative company whose efforts have been recognized in the National Paperboard Packaging Competition. “You can’t sit still. We’re always on the lookout for new technologies, new ideas, and new methods to maximize up-time and reduce waste,” says Plant Operations Manager, Bill Kelley.

The company identified atmospheric plasma surface treating technology as a means to improve adhesion for their polycoated folding cartons. They consigned a system from Enercon Industries (Menomonee Falls, WI) to trial the technology. The system made such an impact on their business that they quickly placed an order for a new system and used the consigned unit until their new system arrived.

With performance, value and cost as the primary purchasing criteria, the company selected Enercon’s blown-ion air plasma surface treater. The in-line system features four treating heads which mount above the company’s various folder gluers. Glue flaps are pretreated prior to gluing and the results are impressive.

Plant Engineering Manager, Tom Vogel says, “Previously, folder gluer press speeds were limited by glue application speed and dwell time. With atmospheric plasma surface treatment, press speeds can be significantly increased while maintaining and even improving quality.”

Green Bay Packaging has identified four significant benefits to the system when running certain types of polycoated materials:

  • Stronger glue flap
  • Increased production speeds
  • Elimination of mechanical preparations, such as skiving
  • Ability to use cold set adhesives rather than hot-melt (cold set is generally less expensive and allows for quicker make readies)

Folding carton designs are continually evolving and materials including polycoated, polybacked, virgin kraft board, specially coated materials, UV lacquered surfaces and recyclable materials can exhibit varied receptivity to glue bonding. The use of an atmospheric plasma treater significantly reduces bonding issues due to material variation.

Enercon’s atmospheric plasma produces these results by cleaning the surface of contaminants, micro-roughening the surface to create more bonding sites and functionalizing for adhesion. Key to the success is a blown-ion discharge that bombards the surface with a high speed discharge of ions. Positive ion bombardment facilitates a micro-etching or scrubbing (ablation) effect to remove (desorb) organic and inorganic contaminants from the surface.

The plasma treater also offers Green Bay Packaging tremendous flexibility to respond to their production needs. The portable system’s locking wheels allow the system to be moved between their various folder gluers. With four treatment heads available the system can provide treatment to multiple glue flaps on a single folding carton.

“The Blown-ion Plasma Treater is remarkably easy to use as it features a PLC based touch screen for controlling each treatment head, a Plasma Integrity Monitoring system and the ability to troubleshoot should any problems arise,” says Tom Vogel.

Bill Kelley adds, “By adding atmospheric plasma treatment, we have been able to reduce our lead times. More importantly, we have confidence that we will always have a good glue bond at increased gluer speeds.” And that’s good news for Green Bay Packaging’s customers who recognize that the consistency and quality of the company’s folding cartons are supported by the company’s investment in the latest surface technology.

Enercon's Blown-ion Plasma Treater has increased productivity, product quality and reduced operation costs for Green Bay Packaging's Folding Carton Division.
Enercon's Blown-ion Plasma Treater has increased productivity, product quality and reduced operation costs for Green Bay Packaging's Folding Carton Division.