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Examine the Alternatives: Air Turns vs. Turn Bars

Examine the Alternatives:  Air Turns vs. Turn Bars

Learn 3 Ways Air Turns Improve Production Over Turn Bars

Design engineers in the converting industry are constantly tasked with meeting and exceeding increasing production goals, regardless of the vastly different markets:

  • Flat Panel Displays
  • Semiconductors
  • Solar PV cells
  • Labeling/Printing
  • Metrology Equipment
  • Printed and Flexible Electronics

Independent of the products, there are common components of web handling and roll-to-roll machinery; one example is turn bars, which are used to flip the web at a right angle. While turn bars are an improvement over conventional ‘oiled’ rollers, New Way® Air Turns provide a superior alternative solution through the use of our Porous Media Technology™.

Air Turns vs. Turn Bars: Fundamental Differences in Non-Contact Technology

Engineers have been using noncontact solutions to remove cumbersome oil/lubrication requirements forcing downtime and ultimately impacting production. The use of pressurized air provides the lift necessary to perform the same function as conventional rollers. There are different methods to distribute the air:

  • Orifice compensation
  • Porous media

Turn bars utilize orifice technology by providing air through a hole(s) or grooves.

Air turns employ Porous Media Technology® by distributing air through millions of sub-micron holes. Part of New Way’s 25-year history of Porous Media Technology has been the use of air bars for manufacturing Flat Panel Displays. Air bars provide the ability to control the glass and inspection without contact. A logical next step was the creation of air turns as an alternative to support flexible substrates for non-contact web handling and roll-to-roll processes.

There are numerous benefits to Porous Media Technology vs. Orifice Compensation including:

  • Control
  • Even distribution
  • High-stiffness

Let’s look at how these key differences directly impact the bottom line.

Air Turns vs. Turn Bars: 3 Key Areas Where Air Turns Increase Production

In the packaging industry alone, a recent survey indicated 73% of companies expect an increase in sales in 2017, while also noting improvement of productivity as the biggest challenge. As a result, companies plan to invest 24% more resources into equipment over the next year. Add to this the increased spending for semiconductor equipment and the market demand for flexible electronics, design engineers across a wide array of industries are investigating options to increase mass production in web handling. Air turns are poised to help meet the increased demand by overcoming three major production challenges compared to the use of turn bars.

  1. Increased Reliability
    While turn bars have less wear than conventional rollers, their reliability is still sub-par when compared to air turns. Air stiffness yields repeatable performance and is proportional to the size of the air gap. The even distribution of air with New Way Porous Media Technology allows for a larger gap, optimizing stiffness consistently across all New Way products. Because of the orifice design, turn bars need to have a larger air gap because the bar can collapse if the airflow is too restrictive. A collapse results in damage to the turn bar and potentially other surface mechanisms, resulting in costly downtime and expensive repairs.
  2. Reducing Waste
    You can have great productivity but if the processes and/or mechanisms are not operating efficiently and are producing waste, the bottom line is adversely impacted. Air turns provide better control of the airflow over turn bars because of the equal pressure inherent to the porous media. Greater control of air through the air turns affords the ability to fine-tune processes to better manage waste.
  3. Less Contamination
    While turn bars provide a non-contact solution, their design inherently sets them up for potential contamination since the air is not distributed evenly. Turn bars can have pressure gradients causing the web to sag or bow. This can produce contact resulting in contamination of the turn bar and the web. Contamination can turn into a wasted product and/or replacement or repair of the contaminated turn bar. Air turns provide an even distribution of air eliminating the pressure gradients and subsequently contamination concerns.

These three areas have a significant impact on the overall production, including quality, which in turn, affect the bottom line. When deciding to use air turns or turn bars, air turns are a superior choice offering consistent performance and production.

Beyond Turn Bars…….The Versatility of Air Turns

While air turns provide an alternative to turn bars, they can also be extended to replacing other components based on the use of Porous Media Technology. The three factors explored above can be extended to:

  • Roller Bars
    Air turns provide a non-contact solution to replace rollers where friction is a problem. Contamination concerns are eliminated, maintenance is significantly reduced, improving performance and overall production.
  • Spreader Bars
    The even distribution face of air turns enables them to remove wrinkles from a web, but with no contact. This again eliminates wear, increasing reliability as well as resolves contamination concerns while straightening the web.
  • Tension Bars
    Air turns can apply tension to a web without having to move up/down, minimizing wear as well as potential contamination issues.

Operational Synergy

There are a lot of moving parts in web handling equipment, but rollers are the main building blocks. An operator needs to understand how each type of roller/bar works, so that in the event of an issue they can resolve it quickly. The more unique rollers/bars present in the system places an additional burden on the operator when there is an issue. Pulling up manuals to troubleshoot impacts production. . The flexible use of air turns in multiple areas in a web handling system simplifies operations, since the operator has less unique rollers to understand. The same basic principles apply to operate air turns no matter where they are used in the production assembly. The efficiencies gained by seamless operations render greater production.

Ready to Turn Up Your Production?

Whether you are considering a replacement for turn bars or other rollers/bars, we’re confident air turns can help you meet production demands. From the semiconductor industry to flexible electronics to basic packaging, air turns can be used to manufacture an extensive range of products. We’re ready to show you how air turns can be used to increase production in YOUR project. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to learn how air turns can increase your bottom line!

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