MEDFORD, OR – Carestream Tollcoating, a provider of contract services specializing in aqueous and solvent coatings on flexible substrates, invested heavily in 2011 to better meet the needs of its advanced technology customers.
Carestream Tollcoating added new equipment and enhanced capabilities at all stages of the product-process development cycle, from laboratory/bench scale equipment through pilot coating to large-volume manufacturing. These investments resulted in increased flexibility, enhanced precision and improved time to market for the company’s customer base.
In addition, Carestream Tollcoating purchased coating and radiation-curing equipment to expand the range of small sample work and added new, custom-designed and built instruments and pilot coaters to leverage the company’s decades of advanced coating and testing experience. The laboratory expansion was based on a desire for earlier and broader understanding of product-process parameters to improve scale-up times and reduce overall development costs for customers.
Beyond lab sample quality, solution stability and efficiency of coating were key focuses for investments made at the pilot scale. These investments include new solution applicators and the creation of proprietary, high-precision extrusion dies. Low-friction cylinders, new load cells and changes to the unwind/wind system also augmented lamination capabilities. Updated tension control (via pull rolls and independent drives) and an improved steering system were installed to handle flexible webs requiring higher precision conveyance, particularly with thin plastics and foil. These investments, along with access to updated equipment for rheological, thermal and physical property measurement during pilot runs, are designed to enhance customer satisfaction.
In the manufacturing area, key improvements included increased quality, new coating capability, and new solution making and handling capacity. Carestream Tollcoating designed and installed an innovative modular gravure coating station at its Medford, OR, facility, improved lamination thickness control with the addition of precision ground rolls, and built new solution delivery equipment for lower waste and bubble-free delivery of valuable and small-volume solutions.
At the Windsor, CO, facility, capital conveyance projects were completed to increase quality of thin-web, flexible supports. The company also enlarged solution-making capacity to meet growing customer demand for aqueous, nano-particulate-based coatings. Separately, investments were made to the polyester film making facility to improve final sheet uniformity, thermal stability and color clarity. Additions at the Oakdale, MN, R&D facility also expanded Carestream Tollcoating’s capabilities in the display, battery component, membrane and nanotechnology markets.
Engineering and development resources responsible for these improvements led to substantial growth in Carestream Tollcoating’s intellectual property portfolio. Carestream filed more than 25 patent applications for process and product technology innovations, and the growing pool of expertise behind these processes is now available to all Carestream Tollcoating customers.