by Brittany Willes, Plastics Decorating
United Silicone, Lancaster, New York, an ITW Industrial Decorating Solutions Division, has developed the Evolution HT heat transfer machine. Designed for high-speed applications of multi-color heat transfer decals up to 355° and using a unique process of electrical synchronization, the Evolution HT offers better process control and allows for decoration of a wider variety of containers than offered by previous machines.
Improved process control is achieved with the Evolution HT’s programmable features, including the machine’s stretch control of heat transfer. The machine’s programmable features enable operators to make adjustments to the machine without the need for tools and, in some cases, without having to stop the machine. Adjustments can be stored in the machine for quick recall, creating consistency from job to job and operator to operator.
To apply heat transfer labels to the circumference of different products, the container is spun while a silicone rubber roller applies heat and pressure to bond the heat transfer label. The machine electrically synchronizes the container’s rotation with the label feed using two servo motors.
According to Todd Skakal, engineering manager for United Silicone, “Similar or previous machines mechanically linked these motions together with a single motor. The electrical synchronization provides for easier setups and changeovers (no mechanical components to change or adjust), offers better process control and allows for a wider range of container sizes to be decorated.”
Skakal explained how customers are able to overcome production challenges with the Evolution HT. “Production flow for other processes was a major obstacle, requiring additional part handling,” stated Skakal. “The Evolution HT streamlines the flow by allowing the machine to be placed directly after the molding machine.” As a result, a unified inline process from mold to decorating to packaging is achieved without sacrificing floor space. “Having the warm containers directly from the molding machine also allows the output of the machine to be maximized,” he said.
Thus far, United Silicone has received positive feedback from customers who have installed the Evolution HT. Skakal noted, “Almost every customer has purchased multiple machines due to increased volume or to replace previous technologies. We have received reports of reduction of scrap, reduction in changeover times between jobs and increased machine up time.”
In fact, customer reports have led United Silicone to expand the knowledge base of the Evolution HT into two additional platforms: the Evolution HT Growers Edition, which decorates nursery/garden containers that have draining vents in the bottom, and the Evolution HT2, which decorates square- and rectangular-shaped containers.
The Evolution HT is capable of decorating up to 12 five-gallon containers per minute while providing 355° coverage. The machine provides pre- and post-decorating flame treatment and multiple configurations for accommodating containers from one to six gallons in size.
The system requires 480 electrical volts, three-phase 15 AMP and 100 PSI moisture-free air, and it can be operated using natural gas or propane. The Evolution HT’s dimensions measure 124″ wide, 66″ high and 75″ long.