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Wrapper's delight: new poly- and shrink-wrap options

Sep 1, 2003 12:00 AM


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A polywrapper and shrink wrapper are not the same thing. Polywrapping (also called polybagging) typically involves wrapping a single sheet of film around a book, magazine or catalog. “It usually doesn't involve shrinking the polyethylene film around the package,” explains Don Piontek, principal of Finishing Resources, Inc., a Long Prairie, MN-based consultancy. “Shrink wrapping, on the other hand, refers to wrapping and heat-shrinking products in olefin film.” (See “Polywrapping: It's in the Bag,” May 2002.)

According to Piontek, Sitma (St. Paul, MN) can claim bragging rights for popularizing the modern polywrapper. “In the mid-1970s in Italy, some businesspeople saw an opportunity in further adapting a German machine for the graphics and packaging markets. The first polybaggers in the U.S. were installed at Clark-O'Neill, Inc., a New Jersey-based mailing house.”

In the 1980s, due in part to a postal ride-along program, interest in polybagging soared, and by the 1990s, several more suppliers emerged.

Following is a sampling of a few recent wrapper introductions.

Products

  • Increased automation for wrappers

    Buhrs' (Plymouth, MN) film- and paper-wrapping systems now feature three new functionalities: automatic wrap setup (AWS), automatic feeder synchronization (AFS) and the Buhrs system controller (BSC). The AWS feature reportedly measures the thickness and length of the product just before sealing, and automatically adjusts the sealing position based on the information. The wrapping sections are fully servo-driven.

    The AFS feature comes standard on the Buhrs RF5 rotary feeder. Photocells measure the dimensions of the product, and the feeder automatically sets itself. AFS also automatically synchronizes the timing and running speed of the RF5 with the main chain of the Buhrs film-wrapping system.

    The BSC reportedly enables optimal communication between supervisor and operators. BSC connects to the customer's database, from which production data can be retrieved. Each feeder on the film-wrapping system is equipped with its own separate display, which shows such information as what product is being fed, how many are remaining and what the next product will be.

    The AWS, AFS and BSC features are already available on the new Buhrs 4700 wrapping system.

  • Compact polywrapping system

    The DemandWorks compact polywrapping system from Böwe Bell & Howell (Chicago) is a smaller version of the company's DemandWorks film-wrapping system. Geared for the print-on-demand market, it reportedly is best-suited to operations that typically outsource their polywrap applications. The system boasts a small footprint of less than 16 ft., depending on the configuration, and operates at up to 8,000 products per hour. It can be outfitted with a range of polywrap film formulations, as well as a number of options and modules to further automate the wrapping process.

  • Wrapping system for high-volume needs

    Sitma's (St. Paul, MN) 950E PolyPapermatic wrapping system can insert, onsert, quarterfold, label, do selective assembly, sort by ZIP code, co-mail and stack. The system, said to be ideal for a variety of high-volume mail-processing applications, operates at up to 20,000 products per hour. Its maximum bulk capability is up to 2⅜ inches.

    Each modular feeder section on the wrapping system can accept three feeders; the system as a whole can thus accommodate a maximum of 64 servo-driven feeders feeding up to 64 preprinted supplements, signatures or flyers. Feeders can perform selective feeding via the Sitma controller; all feeders can be equipped with autoloaders.

    Other special features on the PolyPapermatic include: a compensating stacker with bundle pacer that operates at 55 bundles per minute; an air-shaft reel spindle for easy product loading and alignment; and precise servo-control of product film.

  • Entry-level sealer and shrink tunnel

    The Shanklin (Ayer, MA) Edge line is an economical, entry-level system engineered for low-production environments. Both the Edge sealer and shrink tunnel are constructed of a durable composite material that is corrosion-resistant, and feature programmable recipe settings, tool-less adjustments, plug-and-play controls, and built-in diagnostics. The tunnel is a low-profile, cool-touch design with an automatic energy-saving sleep-mode feature.

  • Self-adjusting shrink wrapper

    Model 75GI high-speed shrink wrapper from Arpac (Schiller Park, IL) operates at up to 75 bundles per minute, and can shrink wrap random-size bundles, extremely short stacks and lightweight products. Servo motors are said to simplify machine maintenance by eliminating an array of pneumatic components from the sealing system; they also provide a smoother, quiet acceleration and deceleration of the seal carriage and head, resulting in a longer machine life.

    The self-adjusting servo-driven sealing reportedly delivers accurate, stronger and more consistent seals while also eliminating variability in seal quality due to temperature fluctuation, humidity, leakage and wear. The seal-opening height can be electronically programmed to vary with the product height.

  • Short-run polywrapper

    Norpak's (West Yorkshire, England) CF Mailer polywrapper wraps media in a tight pack with minimum overhang. Designed for short- to medium-run polybagging (at about 500 to 75,000 products), it operates at up to 3,000 pieces per hour for standard magazine-size products. The system is equipped with an eight-ft. pinned infeed conveyor, mounted at 90 degrees to the wrapper. The variable-speed infeed-conveyor allows media to be fed automatically or manually.