The Purchasing Process Involves Strong Communication, Teamwork and Creativity
By Gary Kohlnhofer & Nick Anton
3DT strives to find a highly effective and dependable solution for every client’s unique surface treatment application and adhesion challenge. Whether that solution lies in our line of standard products or engineered through our application development process, we utilize a collaborative approach to produce a successful, “real world”, proven solution. Typically, the process for purchasing a system follow the steps below. Standard systems ensue a shorter process and, if the item is in stock, it can be shipped within days. Custom systems follow the same initial and final steps but incorporate additional steps collaborating with customers and our team to develop the correct solution. Additionally, it’s not unusual for customers to visit 3DT at some point along the process. Please see the flow chart below.
Purchasing a Standard System-
Reaching out- Typically, a customer calls, emails, or sends an RFQ sharing a need for better adhesion on their component.
The application is explored– Our sales engineers discuss the application with them gathering more details on the type of material, process parameters, cycle time, material handling considerations, etc. Photos and samples are often sent to 3DT to provide more information about the component.
Samples are surface treated- Samples are precisely tested and documented with the appropriate surface treatment system utilizing the customer’s process specifications. A detailed lab report and photos are provided by our engineering assistants assuring the customer’s surface treatment needs are met. This step is not always necessary.
System selection- If 3DT’s experienced sales team determine that a standard system rather than a custom system will provide a solution to the customer, that information is provided and explained in greater detail along with sharing tech data sheets, videos, drawings and/or photos. Please see below where the additional steps to purchasing a custom system are discussed.
Quotation- Once the customer and 3DT agree upon a practical solution, a detailed quote is provided including a description of the equipment, price, payment terms, and estimated delivery time.
Customer purchase order – Approval of the final quote is certified with a purchase order.
Production- Once a purchase order is received, the equipment is put in the production schedule and built in-house in Germantown, Wisconsin by our highly experienced team. Alternatively, many standard systems are kept in stock at 3DT for quick delivery.
QC Testing- The system is tested by Quality Control to assure that all aspects of the equipment are functioning to our design specifications.
Ship it- The system is then packed, crated and shipped along with a comprehensive instruction manual.
After sales- The sale does not end here. 3DT stocks all replacement parts for their systems. Our service team is readily available to assist if needed. Your salesman will be in touch to assure a smooth transition into successful production. Training and installation can also be provided.
Purchasing a Custom System – Custom systems follow the same steps above but incorporate these additional steps:
3. Custom system- Conversations continue with the customer to determine process parameters, production details and more. After further discussion, sample testing, and analysis the team determines a custom system best suits the customer’s need.
4b. Application development- With adhesion results on the customer’s sample proven out, an Application Meeting is held with 3DT’s sales engineer and their mechanical and electrical engineers to develop a concept and surface treatment method. Once the concept is designed on paper a conference call is held with the customer and 3DT’s team to discuss the design. Changes, adjustments and more calls are made until a successful solution is found and the customer is comfortable with the concept.
6b. Approval drawing- A final concept drawing is developed then signed off by the customer before production begins.
The PolyDyne PRO is the latest product from 3DT. This new, highly advanced corona generator takes queues from the original PolyDyne as well as our successful plasma generators to make the PolyDyne PRO our most powerful, sophisticated and robust system to date.
The PolyDyne PRO can either be voltage controlled as the original PolyDyne 1 and 3, or power controlled which has become a standard in film and web industries. In voltage-controlled mode the PolyDyne PRO can output up to 36kV single-ended or up to 72kV in a push-pull configuration. Multiple feedback devices are used to monitor system parameters to ensure reliable, powerful corona treatment. The system is built around a digital signal processor (DSP) which monitors output voltages, currents power levels, phase angle and more. In virtually real-time, it can adjust and compensate to deliver constant power and voltage levels in any condition. Single phase generators, which run on 100-240VAC, have universal inputs and can deliver up to 2kW. No changing of taps or jumpers is necessary at any voltage level between 100VAC to 240VAC, 50/60Hz. The PolyDyne PRO also has a near unity power factor (0.98 typical) which means it emits very little noise onto the electrical line and that external fuse breaker sizes can be reduced as reactive currents are almost non-existent.
Optional leak detection is available on all models of the PolyDyne PRO and can be monitored via the generator’s isolated interface. All generators feature a rich I/O interface which includes all inputs and outputs to be set as sourcing or sinking to interface to virtually any type of sensor, relay or PLC. Outputs include: power alarm, corona on, system fault, generator status and more. Inputs include: generator status (ready/standby mode) and a corona enable signal. The corona can also be activated automatically by sensing of a part or by setting a minimum line speed in the generators settings. Onboard adjustable timers also allow for more integrated flexibility. Power or voltage levels can be controlled remotely by either a 4-20mA or 2-10V analog signal (0-20mA/0-10V and others available). Power or voltage levels can also be monitored through the generator’s 4-20mA/2-10V analog output port (0-20mA/0-10V and others available). The PolyDyne PRO also features an integrated safety circuit utilizing a forcibly guided relay (EN50205 Type A TUV approved) to use with external E-STOP switches and/or safety interlocks for safe, worry-free operation.
Monitoring and controlling all aspects of the PolyDyne PRO is quick and easy via a high-resolution color touch display. All parameters of the system can be adjusted and monitored. A fault log and a data log can be used to verify the generator has performed properly throughout previous shifts. Onboard help screens are available for trouble-shooting and configuring system parameters. The PolyDyne PRO is the ideal corona generator for treatment of small delicate parts to large, hard to treat substrates. A versatile interface means it can be easily implemented into any system or process, or function as a stand-alone piece of equipment for unparalleled corona treatment.
The advantages of modular generators for corona and plasma treatment stations
Corona stations are available in all sizes depending on the application- from 10 inch narrow web lines to wide coating machines and BOPP/BOPET lines of up to 10 meters. Usually, the high frequency high voltage that is needed to power the corona process is provided by generators that have to be upsized with increasing performance requirements.
However, their maximum performance is limited due to the maximum available size of the electrical components in the power inverters. With the maximum performance available on the market – 60kW per generator – and therefore per electrode bar, the limits of the technical possibilities are reached. Not only on extremely wide lines but also at high speed applications or for materials with high demands in terms of corona dosage.
Scaling for pretreatment by means of additional electrodes and a single generator quickly becomes expensive due to larger or additional rollers. A further disadvantage of these large single generators is that a technical defect at a critical part of the inverter can bring an entire web to a standstill.
AFS, from Horgau, Germany, now offers a modular generator design as a solid solution to both problems. AFS’ modular generator overcomes the performance limitations of a single generator and, at the same time, minimizes failure rate.
These generators boast several parallel power inverters, which increase the maximum performance of a single generator to 144kW – more than twice as much as conventional products on the market.
Consequently, modular generators are capable of setting new performance records and are perfectly suited for the power needed for processes with controlled gas, such as plasma treatment systems.
If a module fails, the generator will still operate but with a reduction in power until the module is replaced by a new one – simply “plug and play.” Single modules are identical and thus interchangeable. Clearly, modular generators reduce production line downtime and costly trips by onsite service specialists.
During the development of their modular generator technology, the experts at AFS included the most sophisticated components available, such as a larger TFT color touch screens which employ an intuitive user-interface on the generator similar to the graphics and functions of smartphones and tablets. Operational settings can now be adjusted through the proven rotary knob as well as by means of a touch screen. Additionally, system parameters can be easily adjusted through a password protected area for specific applications.