The Art of Spooling

Spooling of tapes and fibres is an historic art going back many centuries. Many products such as string, cable and tear tape are spooled out of necessity; there is just no other way to handle the product. Other products such as double sided adhesive foam or nonwoven tapes are spooled for ease of handling or to increase the running time of a subsequent process.

Alpha Converting supplies spooling equipment for a very wide range of products and every machine is engineered to optimise the efficiency and quality of the process. Every spooler has the same easy operator interface for selection of the spooling pattern and has computer control of the spooling pattern for accurate and repeatable lay down of the tape or fibre. Spooling configuration can basically be split into three types; in-line, roll-to-spool, and slit spooling.

Many spoolers are supplied for operation in line with the ‘make’ machine and the spooler is required to run without stopping day after day. Spooling in line can easily result in a continuous length of 100,000m without a single splice. In these applications the spooler is normally supplied singly or in a bank of just two or four heads.

Unless the line is very slow running the spooler is supplied complete with an accumulator allowing for the spool to be unloaded and a new core or bobbin loaded for the next spool without affecting the make line. These machines require good access to the spooling head, and for larger spools may need integrated spool ejecting and mechanical spool handling for a quick change. The ALPHASPOOL SPD’is designed for in line spooling and not only offers not stop production but also has multiple tension zones for optimum performance of the tape handling throughout the process.

In other applications such as adhesive coated foam it is often more appropriate to take a slit roll either off a slitter rewinder or from a single knife slitter and to spool this. The finished spool will hold up to twenty slit rolls thereby greatly increasing the productivity of downstream processes. For these applications there are no benefits in fitting accumulators since the machine can be easily stopped but quick changing of the unwind roll with accurate splicing is important.

The ALPHASPOOL M can be supplied for roll to spool conversion of both adhesive coated products and non coated products. Precise stopping at the end of an unwind roll eases the running of the machine for the operator and ensures minimum loss of product in the conversion process while the integrated splice table and cantilevered construction ease roll change.

The simplest spooling concept is slitting and spooling on one machine. The machine is in two parts, the unwind/slitter and the spooler. In the first part the master roll is loaded into the unwind and the web passes through a slitting station where it is slit to the final width and then fans out to multiple spooling stations arranged in one or two banks, depending on the quantity of stations installed. Slitting and spooling in one process eliminates the extra handling necessary when slitting first and then spooling as a separate operation and is the preferred method for higher volume operations.

Even here there is a wide range of machine sizes with tape widths ranging from 0.5mm to 100mm and materials ranging from 10um polyester to 10 gauge steel. The standard ALPHASPOOL offering has the spoolers arranged in banks of up to 36 heads, with each station operating with its own closed loop tension control and with its own computer controlled winding pattern. Every station is cantilevered with full access and the possibility to change any spool at any time.

The ALPHASPOOL SPS spools heavy-duty products such as brass and steel strip. Here accurate lay down of the strip is still important but the tension requirement is only to have enough. The SPS can wind up to six spools on every shaft with a common spool pattern across the shaft and this keeps the machine much more compact.

The spooling industry will continue to see growth as companies look for ways to improve productivity and yields. With its wide range of experience across many industries Alpha Converting sees itself as being in a strong position to meet the needs of customers who are both new to spooling and those with a strong history themselves.

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