UK-based Ardmel Group has been working on special purpose automated machines since 1973, and as early as the late ‘70s, the company came out with its first tape seam sealing machine MK-1. Since then, the company has been developing its bonding and welding technologies to deliver flawless output. Experienced in working with companies like BMW, Ford, Levi’s Jeans and Scandvik, which expect high precision, the company has evolved to produce machines that can be used for manufacturing of hot air balloons, car seat covers, shoes, bagpipes, and apparels. Team StitchWorld discusses bonding and welding solutions offered by Ardmel, broadly classified under three categories – Tape Sealing Machines, Ultrasonic Welding Machines, and Bonding Press.
Tape Sealing Machines
Ardmel has three models under its range of tape sealing machines, namely MK 501, MK 901, and MK 220T-AC, which can be used to manufacture outerwear, underwear, sportswear, rucksacks, footwear, tents, balloons, car components, awnings, boats, inflatables, protectivewear, filter bags, and products for the medical industry. The MK 501 features a digital dual display temperature controller which regulates the temperature of the heater by interacting with the machine’s PLC, and an HMI display unit which is used to set the speed and operating parameters. To avoid skip-bonding while starting and stopping, the delay timers and drive stop can be set accordingly, and additionally, the roller reverse feature can be utilized. The roller reverse feature helps in repositioning the tape/joint seam under the heater, upon activation. In addition to that, MK 501 has a smart feature for slowing down the machine, called the knee press feature. This feature comes in use when heavy or multi-layered fabrics are to be bonded, as more pressure and heat are needed on the cross over seams. It eliminates the waste operation of re-doing that seam on another machine to make sure it stays.
The MK 901 additionally has differential drive, and heated top and bottom rollers. The differential drive allows the top and bottom rollers to move independently, at different speeds which eradicates waviness or puckering, particularly when dealing with stretchable or lightweight fabrics. The heated rollers are of use while dealing with heavier materials which need more heat to melt the adhesive of the tape, to provide a strong bond. The MK 901 consumes less air as compared to other tape sealing machines (around 3 cubic feet per metre), which is also largely used by the heater, keeping the power consumption at minimum.
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Both MK 501 and MK 901 offer a maximum welding temperature of 750 degrees Celsius, a speed of 11 metres per minute, and a roller width of 28 mm.
The MK 220T-AC too features differential drive, along with a “lift unit” which allows for better visibility to the operator and gives extra clearance for large objects. It also features scissors which cuts the tape at the end of the seam, upon pressing the auxiliary palm switch. The machine features a touchscreen HMI for easy adjustments, and the control panel is such that it does not allow the machine to operate if there is a failure in the air supply.
Ultrasonic Welding Machine
Ardmel offers the H192 under its ultrasonic welding machines range that offers functionalities of a normal sewing machine, but without using thread or needle or even wheels to hold the fabric together. Instead, the walking foot and positioning pin allow the material to be held in place, to create absolutely waterproof seams. The H192 is also capable of bonding greater range of fabrics using ultrasonic energy than the other ultrasonic machines which use wheels, i.e. fabrics with a higher natural fibre content. The positioning pin does not pierce the fabric, rather just assists the operator by holding the fabric while negotiating corners. It can produce flat seams on lycra and other stretch fabrics with seam width as low as 0.2 mm, depending on the fabric used. The seam produced using this machine can be further strengthened by applying a tape either to the outside or the underside of the seam. It uses a generator of 35 kHz to generate ultrasonic energy, and can be used in the manufacturing of underwear, sportswear, medical gowns, outerwear, rucksacks, bags, and similar objects.
Ardmel H192 ultrasonic welding machines range can produce at seams on lycra and other stretch fabrics with seam width as low as 0.2 mm, depending on the fabric used. The seam produced using this machine can be further strengthened by applying a tape either to the outside or the underside of the seam.
The bonding press is used for sealing of the seam after application of tape using the tape sealing machines MK 501, MK 901, or MK 220T-AC.
The HSP-500 Pneumatic High Pressure Bonding Press, as the name suggests it is a press designed for bonding of materials using heat and adhesives, and is controlled pneumatically. It uses heated top and bottom plates for bonding of pockets, pocket flaps, hood visors, hems, zippers, waist bands, and similar stuff. It provides a maximum temperature of 350 degrees Celsius, and compressed air of minimum 6 bar.
The HSM-10 High Pressure Hot Stamp is another press offered by Ardmel which offers a pressure of up to 500 lbs/sq. inch. After the temperature and time are set, the hot plate presses itself on the material which is laid down on the bottom plate, and the machine is allowed to reach the set temperature. Once the set temperature is reached, the plates open up and the material is bonded. It offers a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Celsius.
The HSP-500 is much larger to accommodate bigger hot plates, typically 15” x 8”, while the HSM-10 has plates 4” x 2-3/4”. The HSP-500, which is capable of pressing up to 1 tonne, is foot-operated while the HSM-10 is a low pressure press and hand-operated.