“The ultimate goal of foam lamination equipment should be to laminate it, get it into the package, and send it out to customers. What we try to avoid is having mattresses sit around, stay in storage, or clutter up the work space. We want to get it in and get it out,” Grant, lead mechanical engineer of lamination, explained when we spoke to him about the recent R&D done on our lamination equipment. The LCN1000 Semi-Automated Lamination System in particular has undergone a quiet evolution this year, and it’s about time we shared the new developments with you!
Grant and the engineering team worked to enhance our lamination machines to improve upon the “get it in and get it out” philosophy. New features like automated gap control, improved squaring, misting heads and glue pumps for acrylic glue, and infrared conveyor systems all debuted this year in an effort to ease glue application, quicken the cure time, and help you package product faster.
The Evolution of the LCN1000
When we first developed the LCN1000, we focused on creating an alternative to the wastefulness and mess of spray application. Sprayed glue poses a few key problems: there’s no good way to measure glue use, glue is often over- or under-applied, and it’s time consuming. By designing the laminator that applies glue evenly and consistently with a roller system, we sped up the process while still creating a well-bonded finished product.
But this was not enough. We found most manufacturers aren’t able to apply the right amount of glue for each layer. Because some foams require more glue than others, many set their standard coat weight to match the layer that needs the most glue. That means some layers are getting more glue than necessary, resulting in the final product requiring extra time to cure, consuming more glue than might be necessary, and therefore spending more in production time and cost.
We considered controlling the process even further. What if, instead of stopping to adjust the glue coat weight for different beds – or even different layers – we could design the machine to do it automatically? This would reduce both glue consumption and cure times even further. That means mattresses could move right into packaging, no dry-time required. Then, we’re right in line with Grant’s goal – “get them in, and get them out.”
Automatic Gap Control
Thanks to the work of our lamination team, the LCN1000 recipe settings are even more detailed and controlled for your specific SKUs. The recipe always consisted of factors like the number of layers, their order, plate height, flat or contoured surface, and coating depth. Now, you can set the glue coat weight per layer. Plus, the machine accounts for plate height that is slightly out of spec so it gets the right coat depth regardless.
Grant explains it like this: “If you take a common three layer mattress, where the first two layers are conventional foam and the third is a visco, the glue needed to bond the two conventional pieces is most likely less than the glue needed to bond the visco to the conventional foam. With automatic gap control, the gap adjusts in between layers, so you only put the amount of glue needed to bond the foam, and save money on glue consumption.”
If finding that optimal glue coat still seems like a hassle, don’t worry. With the help of an add-on glue scale, you can run a test on the foam with your glue and determine the perfect coat weight within a gram of accuracy. Repeated for each layer, you can determine the best coat weight to secure a bond with every layer of your mattress build. This capability can save you in glue consumption if you’re over consuming glue within your build, providing instant ROI.
Ross, one of our lamination engineers, echoes Grant’s thoughts about lamination: “Many of our customers have requested the ultimate goal, which is to laminate, build, and package their products without any required dry time in between.” While automatic gap control is sure to help you save in time and glue, a host of other new developments give the LCN1000 greater variability in the products it can process while still achieving that goal.
As we mentioned earlier, the machine has sensors that account for the plate height. More specifically, there are three different methods to measure the layer height as it moves into the machine. The rollers auto-adjust to make sure each layer gets the correct coat weight every time. However, they also adjust as the foam passes through, meaning convoluted and contoured layers get the same accurate glue application as straight-cut foam. This machine even processes rails and pocket coils, which operators then assemble in the build area.
On the LCN1500 – our fully automated lamination line – we’ve also improved the squaring section. This machine now squares each piece of foam not once, but twice, holding each layer to the centerline. These improvements mean it is both fast and accurate, placing layers within a quarter-inch tolerance and making the LCN1500 a great solution for both ergonomics and output.
Some of our other key lamination advancements ensure your glue is flowing properly during application but drying quickly once the foam layers are assembled. If you’re using acrylic glue, our added glue pump keeps it flowing while misting heads prevent glue from drying to the rollers. This keeps the glue from building up on the rollers and reduces how often they need cleaning. Additionally, placing our add-on IR Heater immediately after roll coating will help speed the drying time of a built mattress. The tamp helps the glue penetrate while also increasing airflow through the foam, plus the added heat helps to quickly pull moisture from the glue.
For those looking for more adhesive options, we’ve also added hot-melt capability to the LCN1000. The hot melt system comes as a stand-alone machine or as an additional part to a roll coating lamination system. When it’s purchased as an addition, manufacturer’s reap the power of being able to use hot melt, acrylic, or latex glue within the same machine. This is a great option for manufacturer’s who handle a variety of product types, or who want to market to new sectors.
With all these advancements, C3’s lamination equipment now sets a new standard for how automation minimizes waste and maximizes production capabilities, all while keeping the human touch involved in the mattress building process. And with the R&D taking place on our floor right now, we’ll be raising the bar again very soon. Want to learn more about how the LCN1000 can improve your operations? Check out our more in-depth coverage of this topic in our latest edition of ENG*NUITY or contact us today.