Replacing Heat or Glue-Based Processes with Rotary Ultrasonic Technology in an Industrial Application

When the decision has been made to change an industrial process, it was likely driven by a particular factor such as:

  • Safety
  • Desire for improved economics
  • Legislation change
  • Improved material performance
  • Competitive pressure from other businesses
  • Machine upgrade
  • Improving operations
  • Reduced machine delay frequency
  • Reduced delay duration

Ultrasonic technology can provide multiple positive returns, such as material and energy savings, sustainability benefits and increased process speeds.  However, there are several things you should think about when considering making the switch from using adhesive or heat sealing processes to using ultrasonic technology.

Why should you consider using ultrasonic technology in an established process?

Ultrasonic technology has several benefits that can affect future production including improved overall production line efficiency, less down time, lowered process waste, more effective bonding through varying thicknesses or layers and the possibility of faster process speeds.

For packaging applications, ultrasonic technology can offer a reduction in materials due to narrower seals and smaller fin sizes and the ability to seal through residual product.

In hygiene applications, ultrasonics enables the use of lighter weight materials (which are often lower cost), improved fabric performance, elimination of adhesive and adhesive delivery systems.

All applications report that their experience includes reduced machine maintenance which includes less down time and higher productivity.  In addition, those who have replaced heat sealing processes experience reduced energy consumption with low wattage ultrasonic processes.  This can result in a substantial savings in production costs and reduction of utility costs.

Will ultrasonic technology bond your materials?

Ultrasonic bonding is generated by molecular friction within material placed between an acoustical device (horn) and an anvil (energy guide). The horn is tuned to a specific frequency, which excites the molecules, resulting in the temperature within the material rising, flowing together and creating a bond.  Ultrasonic technology works well with thermoplastic films and nonwoven materials.  Each material has different physical properties, which may necessitate some experimentation before answering the question of feasibility.  For that reason, Aurizon Ultrasonics has pilot facilities set up to provide initial testing that can help you determine if rotary ultrasonic technology can add value to your application.

Which ultrasonic process design is most suitable for your process?

Once you have decided that ultrasonic technology is right for your application, you will need to choose between a rotary ultrasonic system and a stationary or blade ultrasonic system.  There are some applications that will have an obvious solution, but most of the time, you will have to consider both avenues to understand which route will be most beneficial. See Choosing a Rotary or Blade System for your Application for more information.

Is retrofit possible or will this change necessitate the design of a new process?

Evaluation of the suitability of your chosen process should begin with a current operating cost diagram and an estimation of the value of the existing system as is.  This base value can then be compared to the estimated cost of any new process alternatives.  Simulation modeling can give you an idea of future operating costs.  Each process will offer its own benefits and limitations that need to be examined as well.

The appeal of designing a new process is that the new system can take into consideration all parameters that will affect the ultrasonic processing such as speed, amplitude of vibration, static contact pressure and the design can optimize these factors.  This can be cost-prohibitive, in which case a retrofit may be more fitting.

The appeal of retrofitting your machine is that the existing system will remain in place and there will be less disruption in implementing the change.  That being said, if there are other problematic variables in the process, they should be addressed with the change.  Even with the retrofit option, the design of a new process brings with it many more decisions to be made.

While Aurizon Ultrasonics has extensive experience retrofitting machines into existing processes, because of the custom nature of each individual application, the methodology will be different with each situation.  Aurizon’s technical experts can consult with you to help determine the magnitude of the effort ahead; and after purchase of a machine, support you through each stage of implementation.

What is the return on investment (ROI)?

Making the switch to ultrasonic technology will require some amount of capital investment.  Both the investment amount and the ROI will vary according to your circumstances; however, our experience shows that most customers see one hundred percent ROI within 6-18 months.

The Aurizon team has conceived and developed their high-powered rotary ultrasonic technology over the course of 30 years and is vastly experienced with process development, process integration, training, service and support of ultrasonic systems in commercial production environments.  We are committed to listening to you and working with you to find a viable alternative that addresses your particular challenges.  Contact us to discuss your application, materials and how we can help assess the capability of our technology in relation to your requirements.

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