Symetal reports best results for alu-foil applications

01.11.2022 Aluminium foil rolling and converting company Symetal is highly satisfied with the MASTER CO 5000 coating machine which was put into service during the first quarter of 2022 in its production facility in Mandra, Greece. The coater not only fulfils Symetal’s process quality expectations, but will also deliver the converting capacity increase the company anticipates from its existing capacity of 24 000 tonnes/year.

From left: Yannis Katsanakis, project manager and electrical maintenance engineer, Symetal; Marco Girotto, electrical engineer, and Omar Houdaibi, mechanical engineer, both Bobst Italia; Michalis Michalakis, production engineer, Symetal.
© Photo: BOBST
From left: Yannis Katsanakis, project manager and electrical maintenance engineer, Symetal; Marco Girotto, electrical engineer, and Omar Houdaibi, mechanical engineer, both Bobst Italia; Michalis Michalakis, production engineer, Symetal.

Aluminium foil is a delicate substrate, and its conversion requires combined and complex processes, hence coating equipment is usually highly customised, requiring a close collaboration between the equipment manufacturer and the converter. So, how have BOBST and Symetal taken the company’s coating operations to the next level of technological and process efficiency and output quality?

Two state-of-the-art facilities in Greece

Symetal S.A. operates two state-of-the-art production facilities in Greece: The Oinofyta plant manufactures aluminium foil rolls and the Mandra plant specialises in foil coating and/or paper lamination producing a wide variety of plain and converted aluminium foil products from 6 to 100 microns. With more than 40 years’ experience and expertise in aluminium foil rolling and converting processing, the company is a strategic partner to major food, pharmaceutical, and cigarette packaging manufacturers. Symetal is an aluminium segment subsidiary of ElvalHalcor S.A., a leading global industrial producer of aluminium and copper products for dynamically growing markets.

“We operate in a highly competitive market and must continue investing and looking for the next innovations, focusing on production process optimisation and manufacturing of high value-added sustainable foil solutions” explained Konstantinos Kontos, general manager of Symetal. “We have collaborated closely with BOBST on a previous project, a highly customised tri-lacquering machine installed in 2015 which has been delivering the excellent output quality and process optimisation we were looking for. This is why we turned to BOBST again for our latest investment”.

Symetal’s new CO 5000 is a bi-lacquering machine, equipped with different coating systems to best match the specific requirements of the company’s custom applications. It is configured to coat both sides of the aluminium foil web to apply water-based or solvent-based coatings – protection primers and heat sealings.

Key benefits

The key benefits of the CO 5000 lay with its capabilities in managing the process critical issues that derive from technical solutions that are unique to BOBST: web handling, a variety of coating systems and dedicated drying technologies to match the specific requirements of the materials and applications to be processed.

Web handling accuracy is paramount as the aluminium foil web breaks easily. All defects such as pinholes and cracking must be avoided to ensure the required barrier levels. Consistency of the coating thickness and accuracy of the quality control system are also crucial factors. The drying tunnels must be very efficient as temperatures up to 250°C are required. In Symetal’s CO 5000, the drying tunnels are placed one atop the other to reduce the machine’s length and coat the two sides of the web without using turning bars.

One eye to the future

In FY 2021, Symetal’s revenue amounted to €260M and now numbers 450 full-time employees. The Mandra plant is a facility with strong growth, having increased its production of converted aluminium foil over 30 times since it was established in 1977.

Commenting on the future, Konstantinos Kontos said: “We needed to invest to add capacity following the significant increase of demand for aluminium foil packaging products, with focus on optimised coating weight, automatic inspection, and minimisation of surface defects”.

Symetal has very stringent requirements in terms of the equipment’s sustainable operation to comply with the company’s commitment to green economy and ESG principles. A member of the Aluminium Stewardship initiative (ASI) since 2019, Symetal has recently been awarded Platinum Rating from EcoVadis for its sustainability performance, the highest rating granted by EcoVadis.

“BOBST designs state-of-the-art equipment and understands the specific needs of our company. We appreciate the way we are able to collaborate on such customised projects. Together, we have developed solutions that enable us to create added value for our customers,” he concluded.