Laufenberg launches pilot production line for individual coatings
Laufenberg GmbH (Krefeld, Germany) manufactures release papers and films used in the production of various applications, such as adhesive tape for the automobile industry, self-adhesive products for the health sector and for the aviation industry.
2006 marked the beginning of a new era for the company when Jörg Soding, a paper engineer, took over the management of the company from his parents. Since then, the plant has continuously been updated with the introduction of modern technology. Not only has machinery been updated but also the buildings and the surrounding area have been extended, modernised and altered. The objectives are energy efficiency, increase in volume, process optimisation and the elimination of errors. One major new achievement: the new customer oriented innovation centre. „A company without a vision has no future,“ says Jörg Soding, and to support his vision the brand new innovation and technical centre was set up.
Innovations are new types of release liners but also new intelligent materials that allow us to produce products with multiple layers. „All types of coating are our core competence,“ says Dr Heike Harwardt, responsible for the management of the new technical centre.
The aim of the new production line at Laufenberg is to produce small quantities for customers up to 550mm in width, to develop new types of silicon in cooperation with the company’s silicon suppliers and to test new types of release liners with its paper and plastic film suppliers. For this, Laufenberg boasts a machine with a five-roller coating head. This is state-of-the-art technology, no other coating procedure can apply such high viscosity fluids (100-1,000 mPas) in the required thickness of between 0.5 -3 microns.
The new production line can also produce thicker layers of over 300µm by using fluids with additives. To do this, a doctor blade is available. To ensure flexibility in the future, Laufenberg chose the modular system Click&Coat from Coatema Coating Machinery in Dormagen, Germany. Each module can be altered at any time and further modules are planned in the future.
Laufenberg has one 4m long drying section and using UV-LED-lamps is also possible. The four meter long drying line can be heated up to 220°C and thus reaches line temperatures of over 200°C. An explosion protection and prevention can be introduced, however it has not yet been implemented and therefore at the moment solvent-based fluids cannot be used. Once a carrier has been covered, the laminating module allows the lamination of various materials.
One machine alone does not make an innovation centre. The building around the machine had to be adapted too. In the hall where Bernhard Laufenberg’s old machine dating back to 1956 once stood, one can now find a totally restructured production environment and the technical centre. A ventilation system with F9-Filters ensures clean air, and secure doors provide an air lock to limit air contamination – if needed this system can be easily upgraded to ensure clean room conditions.
In the newly built laboratory new mixtures are prepared. Various silicone and silicone-free coatings can be prepared in quantities varying from 20ml to 30l. Mixers mix and disperse the coating material. It is possible to work under scientific laboratory conditions thanks to the new extractor fan which guarantees work is completed and complies to legal requirements.