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Air Turns: Frictionless Motion for Roll-to-Roll Applications

Air Turns: Frictionless Motion for Roll-to-Roll Applications

Discover Five Applications of Air Turns for Flexible Web Handling

Conveying was a critical component to support the mass production brought about by the First Industrial Revolution. As technology has progressed, conveyance methods have adapted to new requirements driven by:

  • Material type
  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Reliability

Bearing designs have progressed commensurately, as seen in the vast range of bearing types available.New Way Air Turn in operation.

Yet, as we progress into Industrial 4.0, the prevalence of flexible roll-to-roll processing is creating new challenges for manufacturers. In many cases, conventional bearings can’t handle these issues (or do so ineffectively).

The problem is always the same: Friction.

Thankfully, New Way® Air Turns™ offer a solution.

Frictionless Motion™ For Roll-to-Roll Processing

Air turns provide a noncontact method for conveying flexible materials. Our signature Porous Media Technology™ is implemented by wrapping Porous Media™ onto a cylinder. The natural permeability of porous carbon ensures an even distribution of pressurized air capable of ‘turning,’ without contact or any moving parts. The substrate can be moved up to 180° and at speeds up to 100 m/sec.

Removing friction in this way creates several benefits when compared to traditional contact rollers and orifice-based air bearings:

  • No contamination
  • No maintenance
  • Removes wrinkles
  • Reduces damage
  • Clean-room operations

This unique design makes air turns a versatile product, capable of replacing:Thermal image registering an Air Turn handling polyethylene film at 256℉.

Air Turns are available as a standard product line, with customers choosing from three different wrap angles. A Higher Temperature (HT) variant is also available, capable of withstanding temperatures up to 400℉.

These benefits make air turns ideal for use in precision manufacturing systems of flexible web materials.

Five Roll-To-Roll Applications of Air Turns

  • Medical Technology

Flexible hybrid electronics offer promising developments for the medical industry to provide new levels of diagnostics and care to patients. However, this translates to medical manufacturers receiving unprecedented precision requirements on production and inspection.

Air turns inherent even distribution of air improves inspection and reliability as these life-impacting products are developed in mass. Additionally, the porosity of carbon serves as a sub-micron air filter, with tests demonstrating their reliable operation in ISO 146441-1 Class 3 cleanrooms.

  • Plastics Manufacturing

Plastic producers are plagued by damaged products from contamination and maintenance costs associated with traditional bearings plague plastic producers. Air turns have proven success with Multiplastics, a world-leader in polystyrene film production.

New Way worked closely with Multiplastics to develop a high-temperature version of the air turn to accommodate their operating environment. With the use of air turns, Multiplastics was able to overcome waste from wrinkles and repair costs from their use of idler rollers.

  • Semiconductor Production

The semiconductor industry continues to push the precision envelope. The non-contact nature of air turns enables manufacturers to confidently deliver on micro and nano-level chip productions, without fear of damage to the product. The even and stiff film of air ensures stability in production and inspection, improving the reliability of the end product.

  • Flexible Displays Production

Glass panels are becoming thinner and more flexible, requiring different strategies for handling in production. Air turns can convey the glass web at high speeds, all without making contact. Air turns inherently provide viscous shear to manage web tension, removing the need for tension bars.

  • Printing & Packaging Solutions

Air turns are ideal for applying concurrent coatings for printing and packaging. The no-contact design ensures no contamination. The even air distribution inherent to air turns makes them ideal for operations that produce material of varying widths (e.g. labels); air turns remove the need for ‘taping off’ as is required with orifice-based turn and roller bars, while also ensuring no sags or wrinkles.

Turn to a New Way of Manufacturing

These are just a few ways how air turns can be used to support flexible substrates. Air turns offer a viable alternative to traditional bearings, as well as orifice-based air bearing designs. The versatility of air turns offers manufacturers the ability to optimize and streamline operations, while also improving product quality.

To learn more about New Way’s Air Turns, be sure to check out our free eBook, Improving Roll-to-Roll Processing with Air Turns. Our technical staff also offers a no-obligation consultation, so contact us today to get started!

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation