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Metal Forming

Mixing materials

By Russ Olexa

August 2009- Rollers used in various industries can develop certain types of problems on their surfaces, such as cuts and wear from abrasion. Their load-bearing capacities can also make a dramatic difference in their performance.

Therefore, rollers need to be tough to survive harsh manufacturing environments. Many manufacturing facilities maximize longevity by using rollers until replacement is mandatory because changeover and resurfacing takes time and money.

Rollers affected by these conditions include those used for producing roofing products, textiles and prints, as well as belt-driven rollers and those used for rock and stone conveyors.

"In many applications, there is no in-between--the rollers are either operable or defective," said Matt Menges, president of Menges Roller Co., Wauconda, Ill., in a press release. "But the toughness and impact-resistance of the surface covering can improve wear life by months or even years."

Menges also said that in the steel coil industry, coils are stretched almost as tight as piano wire. With steel being abrasive and usually having rough edges, standard rubber-coated rollers need to be cut-resistant. Otherwise, their wear life is shortened, increasing both maintenance and downtime costs, and reducing product production.

Plastic advantages
Tailoring more advanced materials to increase the wear life of roller coverings is one important solution to these problems. By using thermoset polyurethane plastic on the rollers, the coatings can be manufactured as hard or soft as needed, gaining the toughness and abrasion-resistance that most applications require.

TPU formulations offer superior abrasion, chemical, cut and impact resistance; high tear strength; flexibility and a broad temperature operating range.

To meet the needs of the rollers used in the industries mentioned, Menges’ company has developed Tiger-Max Rollers, a special line of TPU-coated rollers. They outlast cast polyurethane for added uptime and reduced maintenance costs, according to Menges.

Exploring higher productivity
At PPC Industries Inc., Pleasant Prairie, Wis., an extruder and a converter of plastic films, bags and tubing, the benefits of TPU-coated rollers were demonstrated at the company’s blown-film packaging facility. PPC’s engineering, production and maintenance people decided to consider TPU-coated rollers because the company’s plants run around the clock, 365 days a year.

"The whole idea behind this was to get more life out of the rollers because they are expensive to replace, and changeover requires a very big effort," explained Tom Gussarson, PPC purchasing manager, in a press release. "So, we’re hoping to get two to three times’ the service life out of these TPU-coated rollers as we do from a standard rubber roller, which is about a year."

Menges’ Tiger-Max nip roller models were initially installed on a blown-film system about 18 months ago. Later, the bag machine nip roller and winder nip rollers were replaced with Tiger-Max TPU models.

For coil producers, such an upgrade could mean cost savings and efficiency increases. Tiger-Max TPU models aim to achieve this and keep customers’ operations rolling along smoothly. FFJ

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