Are Packaging Materials Innovations Hurting your Machine Performance?

It goes without saying that innovations in packaging materials and the evolution of packaging as we know it are great things.

We’re evolving with the expectations of a new breed of consumer.  We’re reducing waste, saving cost and resources as we invent, test, and improve new materials; making us leaner, meaner, and greener than before.

But did you ever consider how changes-for-the-better in package materials can spell changes-for-the-worse when it comes time to cut that material down to size?

Unchecked changes in raw materials are a constant source of a headache in the performance Slitters, Perforators, Form Fill Seal, and other cutting machines.

We’ve noticed a growing concern over processes that have worked reliably for years beginning to underperform and even fail when seemingly no major change has been made.  In one case, a cutoff knife is wearing out faster than ever in a packaging application. In another, it’s a circular knife failing to perforate a  material with the speed and precision it “always had before.”

Sometimes, the machine in question “just won’t cut at all.”

While the knee-jerk reaction is to blame a faulty machine knife for the problem, a step back from the process reveals this is usually not the case.

Under-performance or all-out failure is not so much the knife’s fault as it is a casualty of the physical change in material: be it foil, paper, plastic or even textile.

New materials may seem just like the old in dimension and looks, but the fact is new materials aren’t “just like the old” at all.  Sometimes,  your machine knives are the wrong strength or configuration to handle the new product with precision.  Other times the chemical composition of the material itself is to blame for reacting against the blade and causing quicker-than-normal wear.

Any way you look at it, it’s a major detriment to productivity, cost, and your bottom line overall.

Next time you find yourself scratching your head over an otherwise fully-functioning machine that just won’t “cut it” anymore, consider the following of your process:

  • Have you recently changed to a different supplier of the same “type” of raw material?
  • Have you switched to a completely new, “improved” paper or foil?
  • Have you changed from one material to another (ex. plastic film to paper)?
  • Has your supplier made changes to their source or formula for what you’re still buying?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then it’s time to reconsider your blade configuration and re-evaluate whether or not you are, in fact, using the optimum machine knife for the job.