How to Obtain Maximum Adhesion on Your Packaging Line

As we return back to work from the shut down earlier this year, facilities may be experiencing several new situations or issues that they have either never dealt with before, or maybe they are new to the industry and need help with understanding how best to operate a high-speed packaging line. We are hearing from a lot of our customers, both old and new, that good adhesion has become a problem. Even though we are moving into the summer and the weather is no longer a potential cause of adhesion issues, there are a few other checklist items that you can walk through to help correct any lack of adhesion.

The first thing to check is the distance of your application gun and nozzle tip to the container or carton you are trying to glue together. If there is too much distance between the tip and the box, the glue could be cooling mid-air, not allowing the cartoner to get full adhesion when moving the box to the folding stage. This solution could be a simple mounting adjustment to lessen the space between the nozzle tip and the box.

Another item to review is the viscosity and melt rate of the glue you are using. It is imperative to educate your line operators on the glue specifications to make sure they are heating it to the correct temperature. On the flip side of that, make sure they are not over-heating it and making the glue too thin, creating a longer open time for the adhesive. Knowing the specifications of your glue will also help you to regulate the amount of glue you are using on your applications, hopefully keeping your operating budget down.

In addition to the above listed items, we also highly recommend regular maintenance on your hot melt system to limit the amount of char building up in the tank. Performing regular maintenance such as changing out tank filters, in-line filters and cleaning out the tank quarterly, will lessen the effects of char through the line. If you do have a lot of char build up, that can and will transfer through the system and onto the box. Too much char mixed in with your glue can be causing adhesion issues. Once the glue dries and hardens around the char, the char can separate from the box.

If you are experiencing any adhesion issues or have any other troubleshooting questions that you would like to review with a technician, please call Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com.

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Starting Back Up After a Pandemic

This is most definitely a new reality that we are all facing. Never before have so many companies had to shut down several, if not all, of their packaging lines because of a global pandemic. However, it was a scary and necessary measure taken to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, as we slowly start to reopen as a nation, so does our packaging facilities. State by state, Governors are rolling out the reopening phases that each company, both essential and non-essential must follow.

With the reopening happening, that may mean you are going to run into a few speed bumps. As we all know, machines that typically run seven days a week, don’t like being shut down for three months. Especially if they are not shut down and cleaned out properly before they sat around idle. So, when you switch the power button back to “ON”, everything might not turn green.

In an effort to help with troubleshooting, we have put together a quick list of potential fixes.

1. CLEAN YOUR TANK. We cannot stress this enough. Even if your team drained the glue in the tank reservoir before shut down, there will still be old residue that will impact your restart. Cleaning your tank is fairly simple. First, make sure to detach all guns from the hoses before running the cleaner through. Utilizing our Purge Plus cleaner, fill the tank reservoir and heat. Place the end of the hose inside a bucket and flush the cleaner through the tank and out through the hose.
2. CHANGE ALL FILTERS. This includes both the tank filter and in-line gun filter. Starting with new fresh filters is the smart way to go.
3. NOZZLES MIGHT GET CLOGGED UPON INITIAL RESTART. Nozzles have small orifices that dispense the glue onto packages. If there is any left-over char in the tank from restart, the nozzles could get clogged up first. Try switching the nozzle to see if that fixes the issue.
4. REBUILD KITS. There are a few items that can be rebuilt on your adhesive melter system. For example, your pump. If you think that your seals have dried up from sitting idle through the down time, and you have a skilled mechanic trained to work on the equipment, try ordering a rebuild kit. This will save you money on purchasing a new pump.

If you experience any other issues during your restart, please call us directly at (561) 272-5442 and a technician will walk you through troubleshooting any issue. Stay Safe!

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When Consumers Can’t Open their Boxes

Have you ever purchased a case of soda or carton of coffee cups and can’t get the box open? Of course, we all have. In the packaging industry, especially for hot melt machine manufacturers, that is a red flag. Whenever we get a box that has too much hot glue on it means that the packaging line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly.

If you are wondering why too much glue means that the line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly it is because one of two issues is occurring (or sometimes even both). The first issue is most likely that the line operators and/or maintenance managers are not cleaning the tank regularly and the lines are clogging up with char, which will subsequently clog nozzles. Instead of cleaning the tanks and hoses, and replacing the tank filter and in-line gun filters, most operations just buy bigger nozzles. If the diameter of the nozzle orifice is larger, then it will allow through more bits of char and not clog up as easily. Unfortunately, this is not a long-term solution. Putting down more hot glue will drive up the amount that facilities spend on adhesive pellets, and ultimately the annoyance will trickle down to the consumer when they can’t get their box open. The solution is simple…utilize Purge Plus to clean your tank every 1,000 hours. For some facilities that could mean cleaning every quarter and for others that could be twice a year, it all depends on the facility. In addition to cleaning the tank and hoses with Purge Plus, make sure that the tank filters are changed every 500 hours. The in-line gun filters should be changed every 150 hours to ensure that no char travels into the gun applicator, through the module and nozzle and onto the box.

The second issue that could cause too much glue on boxes, is that the line was not set up correctly from initial purchase. A lot of cartoners have standard hoses, guns, modules and nozzles that will work for most case packers, but not for all. Make sure to take into consideration the temperature of your packaging facility (which can impact the adhesion and viscosity of the glue as it travels through the application process), the distance that the guns are to the box upon application, and the surface area of the box you are covering. The longer the bead of glue you place, the less likely you are to need a larger diameter nozzle. The shorter the range you are covering, you might need more glue to make sure that maximum adhesion occurs, which means you need a larger diameter nozzle.

If you think you are putting down too much glue on your packaging line and need help, call one of Universal Systems’ technicians at (561) 272-5442. We have the most knowledgeable technicians in the business that can help you with almost any question.

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Managing Your Glue Usage in Packaging

Hot melt adhesive is not cheap and you may notice that the prices are only going up. What purchasing agents might not know, is that a lot of packaging lines are using more glue than is actually needed. There are a few simple ways to manage your actual glue usage and help cut costs to manage your budget.

Nozzle Diameter

The first step in managing your glue usage, is knowing the diameter nozzle tip you are using in your packaging lines, and understanding why you are purchasing that size. A lot of times, our sales reps will get calls from customers that want to buy larger size nozzle tips because their line operators are saying there is not enough glue being released on the cartons. Obviously, as you increase your nozzle tip diameter, the more glue you are going to use overall and increase your yearly costs for adhesive. This can also cause several other issues, such as potential sealing issues if the hot adhesive does not have enough time to dry as it moves along the cartoner. If your line operators are asking for larger diameter nozzles, question them as to why.

Evaluate Set-up

If your line operators are stating that the glue is not keeping the packaging closed, which is why they need larger nozzles, evaluate your setup. Check the distance your gun applicator is to your carton and at what temperature you are heating your adhesive. If the adhesive is not hot enough and your gun is too far away from the application site, the adhesive could be cooling before it even hits the carton which is why it is not creating a tight seal. Simply increasing your heating temperature or moving your gun applicator closer to the end application site could solve this issue. You could also be putting down too much glue already. If you have a high-speed packaging line, and put down too much glue, the speed will not allow time for the large amount of glue to dry.

Change Your Filters

Another simple solution to managing your glue usage, is to check both your tank and gun filters. If your nozzles are clogging frequently, causing the line operators to buy larger diameter nozzles, they may be clogging due to char. Char is a typical occurrence in hot melt packaging, but the transfer of most char can be prevented by regularly changing your tank and gun filters. These filters will extend the life of both your modules and nozzles.

For more information or tips on how to increase your packaging line efficiency and lower your costs, call a Universal Systems representative at (561) 272-5442 or email us at sales@ussefl.com.

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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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What Diameter Nozzle Should You Use?

Hot melt adhesive application nozzles, or nozzle tips as they are commonly called, are the component that apply the glue onto boxes in packaging lines. Universal Systems nozzles are made out of brass with stainless steel tips to withstanding any beating they might take from box flaps in the packaging line.

Nozzles comes in many shapes and sizes, and are usually the part on the adhesive system that is most experimented with. Most nozzles are easily changed out by simply unscrewing them from the module. Other nozzles, like the ones on reduced cavity, zero cavity and ProBead modules are called integrated nozzles. We sell replacement nozzle kits for integrated nozzles that include the nozzle tip, needle, brass needle guide and installation tool.

The diameter of the nozzle tip determines the amount of adhesive that is distributed onto the box flap. Because you can easily switch them out, most line operators experiment with diameter to enhance productivity. For example, smaller, more precise glue application will require a smaller diameter nozzle. Larger, faster cartoners, will most likely run larger diameter nozzles to distribute a greater amount of glue and quickly seal boxes. Keep in mind that the larger the diameter nozzle, the more adhesive your tank will process. So make sure that your line operators are keeping a close eye on the adhesive level in the tanks. Dry running a machine can compromise your pump and create a costlier repair.

Because most adhesive systems run 24/7, the nozzle is the most commonly clogged component on your line. This is due to char or debris travelling from the tank, through the hose, into the gun and through the module. Because the nozzle is the smallest orifice on your system, most char will get stuck and you will be unable to get a consistent adhesive flow. Universal Systems SE offers nozzle cleaning kits that you can purchase instead of replacing nozzles. However, most line operators find the cleaning of nozzles a tedious process, even though when done correctly it works. Nozzle cleaning kits can save you money in the long run on replacing nozzles.

Another important aspect of nozzle diameter correlates to the size of the mesh in-line filter used on your system. The larger the diameter nozzle, the lower number mesh you should use. The smaller the diameter nozzle, the finer mesh you should use.  For example, with a .024 diameter nozzle, you should have a 50 mesh filter size. With a .012 diameter nozzle, you should use 200 mesh filters.

For more information about what diameter nozzle you should be using, call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Nozzles: Brass w/ Stainless Steels Tips

There are several components that work together in applying hot melt adhesive to your packaging line. One of the most important, yet smallest, components are nozzles. Nozzles come in several types and sizes, and even though you may not realize it, these small parts are engineered in a way to keep your packaging line running smoothly and efficiently.

Constructed out of brass and fitted with stainless steep tips, Universal Systems prides our self in the ability to manufacture high quality and long-lasting nozzles. We make the body out of brass because it is the best conductor of heat to keep the adhesive the correct temperature for application. The different orifice tips are made from stainless steel because of the materials durability and longevity. Stainless steel tips will remain accurate in diameter and are nearly impossible to damage from packaging flaps, which tend to brush up against nozzles on cartoner machines.

Another great attribute of our Universal Systems SE nozzles is their versatility and ease of use. Most all nozzles are replaceable. Even if you are running reduced cavity, zero cavity or ProBead modules, we offer the option to buy nozzle tip replacement kits. For standard modules, simply unscrew your existing nozzle and then screw on the new one. For reduced cavity, zero cavity or ProBead modules, we include the nozzle tip, needle, needle guide and installation tool. Also, most all nozzles are cleanable! If you think that your nozzles are clogged from char or debris, you can get a nozzle cleaning kit for all diameter nozzles. If you are a new client, you can take advantage of our Spring Promotion where you get a free nozzle cleaning kit with the purchase of 20 or more nozzles.

If you are interested in learning more about Universal Systems SE nozzles or get pricing on nozzles, nozzle replacement kits or cleaning kits, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (800) 848-5018.

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Nozzle Engagement

Nozzle engagement is rarely discussed because not many people understand what it truly is. Well, it’s simple, nozzle engagement details the length of the orifice hole. This means that engagement length will impact the flow of adhesive from the module onto the package. So as the engagement increases, making the length of the nozzle orifice longer, the flow of adhesive will decrease. For example, if a nozzle’s specifications are .018″ diameter x .075″ engagement, it means that the length of the .018″ diameter orifice is .075″ in length.

There are a few other key factors, along with engagement, to consider when understanding hot melt adhesive nozzle applicators. Review all of these in order to deliver the correct amount and pattern of glue for the products you are gluing.

Gluing pattern: Choose from bead, slot or spray pattern, depending on your application

Number of orifices: Single or multiple for adequate coverage

Style of gun: Verify that the nozzle you are choosing is compatible with your gun

Nozzle angle position: Straight or right angle are the most common, but make sure whatever you need suits your application gluing process

Orifice diameter: .008” for reduced flow up to .040” for high flow

Engagement: The length of orifice channel — nozzle seat to nozzle tip

For more information on nozzle engagement, please call (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com. Universal Systems SE is offering FREE nozzle cleaning kits through the end of June for new clients. Take advantage of this free gift when you order 20 or more nozzles.

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