How to Prevent Your Glue from Stringing

One of the most common issues that many packaging line operators experience with their adhesive melter is stringing. Stringing is when the adhesive is applied to the box, but before the flaps are closed on the cartoner, the glue starts to dry and string like cotton candy floating through the air.

There are a couple of fixes for this issue. Whether you are using a straight, right angle or swirl pattern nozzle, try moving the applicator gun closer to the box flap where you are applying the adhesive. The stringing could be caused because it is travelling too far of a distance from the applicator gun to the box. The shock from hitting the cooler factory air could be causing it to lose viscosity and start drying before it even hits the box. Not only will that cause stringing, that might also compromise the integrity of the glue hold on your product packaging.

Another cause of stringing glue could be temperature. Every adhesive is different and each one might require a different melt temperature. In order to keep the adhesive a consistent viscosity, make sure that the temperature on your glue tank and applicator guns are set correctly per the adhesive requirements. If the adhesive is too viscous then you might need to increase the tank temperature or change to an adhesive with a lower viscosity. If your tank temperature is correct, but your guns are not hot enough, then the glue could start to cool while travelling from the tank to the applicator gun. In this scenario, you would see that the thickness of the glue as it leaves the nozzle. Some line operators might try fixing the issue by putting a larger diameter nozzle on the module, which could be a temporary fix, but the real issue could be the temperature setting on the gun. Simply increase the gun temperature as needed to ensure a smooth, consistent adhesive flow.

There could also be an issue with the adhesive you are using on your packaging line. Like many products, if the adhesive is too old, has been sitting for too long, or has been heated and cooled too many times, this could cause stringing. We recommend that you drain all old adhesive from your tank, clean the tank with a cleaner such as Purge Plus™, and refill with fresh adhesive.

Universal Systems SE recommends trying to correct stringing if it is happening to your packaging line. Some line operators may think it is not that big of an issue, or they might blame the adhesive manufacturers, when in fact it could be a simple and important fix.

For more information or technical support to help you better understand how to fix your stringing glue, please call Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Not All Glue Melts Well Together

One of the most common customer service calls we receive has to do with adhesives that get mixed together and then create a mess inside the melter tank. It is important for any packaging line operator to understand that not all glue is made equal, which means they might not mix well together. Especially when operating at high heat with high demand.

Know Your Adhesive

There are two main types of adhesives that you could be using in your tank: ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyolefin. EVA is a copolymer adhesive, most commonly used in the paper, packaging, and assembly industries, as they bond to a variety of cellulosic materials and have a wide range of formulation. Polyolefin is used mostly at low application temperatures and works best in spray or film form. The best thing to do is keep the adhesive information so that you do not accidentally order the wrong type of adhesive and mix them together. When EVA and PVA are mixed together and heated, they create a thick gelatin formulation that will destroy your melter pot. This is not something that can be cleaned out, even with the strongest of cleaners.

Clean & Purge Your Tank

It is imperative, whenever starting a new batch of adhesive to thoroughly purge and clean your tank, hoses and guns. Removing all remanence of previous adhesive build up. This will prevent any clogs or char from filtering through your adhesive system and causing any unnecessary adhesive mixing. Universal Systems offers a cleaner called Purge Plus that, when heated to the correct temperature within your tank, will remove all of the old adhesive and char.

For more information on Universal Systems SE or our Purge Plus cleaner, please contact us at (800) 848-5018 or email us at sales@ussefl.com.

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Preventative Tips to NOT Char Your Glue

One of the most dangerous, yet inevitable, occurrences running hot melt systems in your packaging lines is char. Universal Systems SE has updated technology running in our ClearFlow hoses that reduces char, however the main char that runs through the hoses comes from the tank itself. Once your tank is infested with char, no matter how efficiently your hoses and guns run, there is always the potential to transfer this char onto your packages. You also run the risk of char clogging your nozzles and modules, which can back up through your guns and kill your pumps. Our Universal Systems SE technicians have seen it all. That is why we have created a list of preventative tips that each line operator should follow to effectively reduce char and keep your ProBilt® system running at top capacity.

Preventative Maintenance

Universal Systems Se recommends a complete hot melt system cleaning at least twice a year using our Purge Plus system cleaner.

Contaminated Adhesive

Hot melt adhesive should always be stored in a strong container such as a heavy-duty plastic waste container. Do not set boxes or open bags of adhesive on the floor or on the top of the container. The container should be labeled “Adhesive Only” and include your adhesive part number.

Low Quality Adhesive

With hot melt adhesives, higher price usually means higher quality, the opposite is also true. Adhesive manufacturing is a highly un-regulated industry and many companies use low cost waxes and fillers in their products to reduce cost. These products tend to burn quickly. Due to the fillers and heavy waxes, low cost adhesives can greatly reduce your adhesive mileage whereas high quality adhesives are lighter and have a lower specific gravity. The bottom line is a higher dollar per pound does not necessarily translate to higher packaging costs. We also recommend that you do not mix old adhesives with new brand adhesives. Please read our past blog to help you understand why.

Old Equipment

Hot melt systems are not cheap, so most of the ones in operation today have been on their packaging lines for 10 – 20 years, whether they are running properly or not. That means that most likely, these older machines have char built up in their tanks. It may be time to evaluate the performance and efficiency of your aging equipment and trade up to a new ProBilt®.

To get the latest pricing on ClearFlow hoses, Purge Plus system cleaner or ProBilt® adhesive melters, please email sales@ussefl.com. If you are experiencing issues with char, please feel free to call one of our technicians at (800) 848-5018 and we would be happy to help you.

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Top 10 Tips for Maintaining Your Hot Melt Machine

Hot melt machines are an important investment into the efficiency of your packaging line. Just like any important investment, you want to make sure that you are maintaining your hot melt machines to limit downtime and minimize expenses.

Below are the top 10 maintenance recommendations to ensure you get the most out of your Universal Systems machine.

1)      Replace Melter Filter after 500 Hours

2)      Clean Melter Tank with Purge Plus after 1,000 Hours

3)      Clean and Flush Pump after 2,500 Hours

4)      Replace Pump after 5,000 Hours

5)      Replace Hose only when it stops heating

6)      Replace In-Line Filters after 150 Hours

7)      Replace Gun Head only when it stops heating

8)      Change Module Every 1,000 Hours

9)      Replace Nozzle Every 120 Hours

10)   Depending on how many lines you are running, make sure you keep enough spares of each in stock.

Universal Systems SE stocks all of the above and can ship almost anything same day. For more information on how to operate your hot melt systems or perform maintenance on your system, please check out our YouTube channel.

For pricing on any items, please reach out to one of our sales representatives at sales@ussefl.com or feel free to call our corporate office at 1-800-848-5018.

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How Cartridge Heaters are Made and Why They Fail

There are two methods of manufacturing cartridge heaters to ensure a useful life and not have them fail prematurely. The first is a standard cartridge heater and the second is a swaged cartridge heater. Even though both cartridge heaters might look identical on the outside, they are constructed very differently. Standard cartridge heaters are the most commonly used, but if you need to operate at higher temperatures and vibration applications, then you will need a swagged cartridge heater.

A standard cartridge heater has nichrome wire heater coils that are weaved through holes in the ceramic tubing. Pure magnesium oxide filler is vibrated into the holes, heating the coils to allow maximum heat transfer to the stainless-steel sheath.

A swaged cartridge heater’s nichrome wire is wound tightly around a ceramic core, to situate it in close proximity to the heater sheath. Pure magnesium oxide is vibrated in and the heater is swaged to a specific diameter.  This compresses the magnesium oxide so it becomes an improved conductor of heat from the wire while maintaining its dielectric properties. This is why it works so well with high temperatures.

The useful life of a cartridge heating element is determined by how quickly the heat generated in the resistance wire can be dissipated to the outside sheath. So why do cartridge heaters fail and sometimes prematurely? The reasons include improper fit, moisture, watt density is too high or if you are using the incorrect voltage.

Improper fit is the most common cause of cartridge heater failure. If the cartridge does not fit into the hole it is inserted, then the heater cannot dissipate the heat being generated by contact with the sheath. So, in effect, the temperature inside the heater will continue to rise until the magnesium oxide or resistance wire breaks down and the heater fails.

If moisture or impurities are present they can be drawn into the heater. Because magnesium oxide is hydroscopic, every time power to electric heaters is eliminated, an internal vacuum occurs which draws in air from the surrounding area. This vacuum can cause a short circuit.

Finally, make sure that the wattage density isn’t too high and that you are using the correct voltage. Either of these issues can a cartridge heater to fail.

If you have any other questions about your cartridge heaters, please call us at (561) 272-5442 and one of our technicians can help you diagnose any cartridge heater problems.

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Combat Downtime

Downtime for an average production line can cost a company, at minimum, between $150 – $170 per minute. This makes it vital for companies to identify factors and equipment that impact production capacity.

Why are Hot Melt Adhesive Systems so important?

Hot melt adhesive systems are often overlooked as just a cog in the production packaging line. However the reality is that these small systems are vital to processes like primary paperboard packaging as well as the key to ensuring protective secondary packaging. Furthermore any disruption to the heating, transferring and adhesive application process results in the slowing if not complete shut down of a production line.

While literal monetary translation of the 1-10-100 principal is debatable, there is no question a proactive approach to maintenance that considers prevention cost, corrective cost and failure cost will reduce downtime and yield significant savings.

How to optimize Hot Melt Part Maintenance and Purchases

To ensure quality, longevity, and support for hot melt glue equipment one should purchase from a well-established manufacturer such as Universal Systems SE, Nordson, Graco, ITW Dynatec or Robatech. All these companies have engineers on staff to discuss equipment selection, technicians to address maintenance questions, and sales representatives who can assist with product procurement and replacement.

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Hot Melt Adhesive Equipment: Troubleshooting Tips

Whether you’ve already invested in hot melt glue equipment, or you’re considering it, knowing how to troubleshoot any potential problems is highly advised by any hot melt adhesive machinery as well as equipment distributors and manufacturers. However, before we get into common troubleshoots; let’s define what hot melt adhesive systems actually do.

What is a Hot Melt Adhesive System?

Hot melt adhesive systems are composed of different pieces of equipment that come in a variety of pump, hopper, and hose gun connection sizes in order to satisfy your individual production needs. Hot melt glue machinery can be used to assist several different industries including, but not limited to:

  • Bookbinding
  • Breweries
  • Graphic Arts
  • Labeling / Laminating
  • Packaging

Troubleshooting Mechanical Problems With Your Hot Melt System

Now, we don’t advise that you should try and troubleshoot a hot melt dispensing unit on your own unless you’re a qualified professional. If you are a qualified professional, observe and follow the safety instructions within your OEM manual that you were given for your specific machine.

  • IF YOUR PISTON PUMP ISN’T WORKING PROPERLY

    First, check to see if the unit has reached its operating temperature, if it has, then there could be a problem with your air supply, the solenoid valve, or there’s something wrong with the assembly of the shifter valve.

  • IF THE PISTON PUMP IS STROKING ERRATICALLY

    If this problem is occurring, then you may be low on adhesive, if you’re adhesive level is fine, then check to make sure that the adhesive is actually melted. You’ll also want to check the pump seats in case anything became lodged within them, as well as make sure that the o-ring in the crossover tube isn’t broken.

  • IF THE GEAR PUMP IS NOT PUMPING PROPERLY

    One of the first things to check if your gear pump is not pumping properly is the motor. If the motor is not running, you want to check the motor control as well as the capacitor. If you don’t see anything wrong with the motor than look for any fault indicators, as well as making sure that the pump ready light is on. In the event that none of these tips help, then there may be a blown fuse.

  • IF NO ADHESIVE IS PUMPING OUT

    If your motor is running, but there’s no adhesive being pumped out, then you’ll need to check your adhesive levels and make sure it’s melted. There’s a chance that the nozzle could be clogged on the head however, if it’s not then you’ll need to check the inline head filters, the tank filters, the coupler between the motor and the pumped, and the pressure regulator.

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Hot Melt Adhesive System: Electrical Troubleshooting Tips

Hot melt adhesive systems are a great investment if you’re looking to increase your production rate, and if you have the right equipment that works properly, then that’s even better. However, in the event that something goes wrong with your hot melt glue equipment or your adhesive machinery, you’re going to want to know how to troubleshoot the problem yourself. While your OEM manual that came with the machine should be able to help you solve the problems, you may not necessarily know what to look for, and that’s where we come in.

In the event that your hot melt adhesive dispensing unit malfunctions in any way, it’s highly advised that you seek someone who’s qualified and familiar with this machinery – if you’re not already. Now, with that being said, you want to make sure you follow all the safety instructions within the manual as well.

  • IF THE TANK IS UNDER / NOT HEATING

    In the event that your tank is under heating or if it’s not heating at all, there are a few things that you could look into – the first being the system fault light and making sure there isn’t a blown fuse. After that, you’ll want to look into the resistance on the tank heater and the tank RTD, there’s also a chance that you have a burned off or broken wire leading into the tank heater.

  • IF THE HOSE IS UNDER / NOT HEATING

    If your hose is either under heating or not heating at all, check the system fault light as well as a blown fuse. Checking the issues surrounding the hose is similar to checking if the tank is under heating. So, you’ll want to check the resistance on the hose heater and the hose RTD. Also, make sure that none of the electrical collectors are unplugged.

  • IF THE HEAD OF THE HOSE IS UNDER HEATING

    A majority of the issues surrounding electrical deal with a blown fuse or the system fault light, therefore you’ll want to check that if the head of the hose is under heating or not heating up what so ever. You’re also going to want to check for unplugged electrical connectors, wire connectors (look for backed out pins), and the control boards.

  • IF THE TANK IS OVERHEATING

    If your tank if overheating, there’s a good chance one of the four following things is wrong: – The system fault light, the resistance on the tank’s RTD, the control board, or the triac. If you’ve found that one of those four things is the issue, you should be able to find a solution in your OEM manual to get your hot melt adhesive unit is back up and running.

  • IF THE HOSE OR HOSE HEAD IS OVERHEATING

    For both the hose and hose head, you’re going to want to first check the system fault light as well as the resistance on the hose RTD and the head RTD. Another thing that could have a problem is the control board.

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