October 17th, 2018

Delta ModTech’s “Closing the Loop” Technology Showcase Opens Eyes to New Possibilities

Delta ModTech’s 2018 Technology Showcase “Closing the Loop” was designed to highlight advancements in closed-loop machine technology. It did, but the two-day event also opened eyes and minds to a world of other opportunities in branding, products and processes.

Every few years, Delta ModTech invites clients and partners to a showcase at its facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This year’s showcase, held September 11 and 12, included a morning of guest speaker presentations followed by an afternoon of facility-wide machine demonstrations.

Michael Lasky kicked off the morning presentations with a topic typically not broached by converters: Branding.

Branding: Your most valuable asset

While it’s easy for us to get caught up in our products and services, Attorney Michael Lasky wisely pointed out that it’s the brand that truly propels your success.  

“For highly-successful companies, brand is the most valuable asset,” he said. In example after example, Lasky showed that companies that build their brand (Apple, Christian Louboutin, Owens Corning) enjoy higher margins and long-term success.

He explained how branding is more than just advertising.  “Do you have the guts to make something about your product memorable?” he asked, bringing up Louboutin’s red-soled shoes, or the blue knobs on Delta ModTech’s equipment.

Make Your Product Memorable

Lasky also integrated his work as a patent attorney into the presentation, discussing some of the strategies required when building a brand.  For example, avoid using generic names when naming a company.

He explained how the company “Books.com” ran into problems because it doesn’t own the word “books.”  “If you don’t have a clear title, you are building a brand for someone else,” Lasky said.

Products, services and processes: Partners step up

The Showcase Featured Multiple Speakers

The showcase next switched gears to more tangible topics: Machine technologies and manufacturing processes. Joel Oakes, Chief Technology Officer of Delta ModTech, introduced a series of speakers that helped explain the importance of closing the loop during converting production.

He began with Mohammad Azim of RotoMetrics, who explained the tooling on your rotary dies is what takes you from good to great.  “If you have very precise dies and equipment, your part will be just as precise,” he said. This precision is becoming increasingly important as tighter tolerances are demanded.

Azim shared some product improvements that are helping achieve those tolerances and improving efficiency, such as the company’s TufShield product. When you’re cutting with a rotary die, each cut produces a little microfracture.  RotoMetrics created a protecting TufShield plating that improves accuracy and durability.

“We are seeing a minimum of 2 to 10 times greater yield,” Azim said.

Billy Evers, District Sales Manager Midwest Region of Cognex Vision, expanded on the “closing the loop” theme, explaining how advancements in machine vision technology is helping with scrap reduction and product improvement.

New vision technology and more competitive prices are making the use of machine vision systems more widespread.  Twelve megapixel cameras and HDR+ are capturing larger images with improved clarity and helping detect defects.

Evers noted that new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are also being integrated. The machine learning is allowing the system to make decisions when minor defects appears.  “It can help when the camera can’t decide between A and B,” he said.

Paul Hammond, Sector Manager – Life Sciences of Domino NA, explained how advancements in serialization are causing changes for converters. Regulations, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, have increased the need for improved tracking.

“We need to think about how we are marketing and coding,” he said.  “A holistic approach is needed.”

As we begin coding on new substrates, we’re wandering into new territory, and sampling will become critical.  New challenges will arise, and product handling will become increasingly important.

Scott Zwierlein, Lab/Manager and Coating Engineer of Frontier Coating touched on some of the critical components of coating, providing a complete overview of the process.  Scott would later demonstrate a Frontier coating machine during the afternoon tours.

Coating and Converting Demo

Rob Hattling of Delta ModTech shared some significant control system advancements.  Because Delta Control systems use digital drives and proprietary tuning techniques, the most recent control system release has improved electronic accuracies to 0.006 microns. This allows die cutting registration accuracies by up to 100x and increased speeds with the same repeatability.  This also results in superior tension control with stability down to 0.5 lbs (0.23kg), reducing spikes and ripples. Another benefit to this is the improved accuracies for closed-loop registration control with their MOD-Track™ Machine Vision Inspection System.

Hands-on demonstrations and applications

Demonstrating New Advancements

In the afternoon session, showcase participants toured the Delta ModTech facility, where machines were on display to demonstrate new advancements.  The big buzz on the floor:

New inline coater/dryer capabilities.  The fact that Delta ModTech now allows you to  bring coating capabilities in-house got a lot of people thinking, especially when they saw a large coater/dryer connected to a converter/packager. The groundbreaking demonstration showed how the complete process can be run inline. This machine also featured the MOD-Track Vision Inspection System performing both closed-loop registration control and product conformance inspection. Frontier’s DynaCoat compact slot die coater/dryer also turned heads.

Laser Die Cutting keeps getting better.  A microfluidic part was produced using laser cutting, conventional rotary die tools and the MOD-Track Machine Vision Inspection System. Multiple layer lamination of registered materials that were both die cut by laser and rotary dies using various slug removal techniques showcased Delta ModTech’s closed-loop technology.

Cuts done on a flatbed press now have rotary application.  Cutting previously restricted to flat presses can now be done on Delta ModTech press, improving flexibility for difficult to handle materials.

Low tension relief.  Customers struggling to get their web tension less than a pound were happy to see how our new software and modern servo control now reduce web tension to fractions of a pound.

What will happen two years from now?

Delta ModTech’s showcase requires an extensive amount of staff time and facility space to put together.  But it has proven to be a worthwhile investment, as it brings converting industry thought leaders together to share ideas and explore new technologies.

David Schiebout Quote

“It’s really an amazing opportunity to share the new technologies that are pushing the envelope in web converting,” said David Schiebout, President and founder of Delta ModTech.

With all the advancements since the last show, it’s hard to imagine what improvements in camera resolution, AI and other technologies will allow our industry to accomplish in the next few years.  You can be sure the showcase then will be as jaw-dropping as the 2018 version.

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