Nu-Coat specialises in the manufacture and supply of self-adhesive materials to the signage, display and graphics market for a broad variety of applications. The company has carved out a niche in the market by gearing its processes towards the production of specialist materials in relatively short runs, dealing in the smaller order volumes that many of its customers prefer.
Rob Musto, Operations Director at Nu-Coat, outlines their strategy: “Nu-Coat originated from concept back in 2014, mainly to produce niche products to fill a gap in the market for self-adhesives that the bigger players in the market don’t produce and wouldn’t entertain producing because of volume.” Nu-Coat’s investment in a state-of-the-art GEW UV curing system has made this short-run strategy commercially viable.
He continues: “Flexibility is key for us, we can change very, very quickly, whereas in comparison to some of the main players, that could take days and weeks in the campaign-type production that they operate under. We also don’t need the large volumes that they require. With the small footprint of our coating line, that’s probably half the length of a curing oven for our competitors. We achieve a cure within a few metres only, whereas if I compare that to a solvent-based system you’re looking at a minimum of 50 metres to set up the process and probably until they validate what they’ve actually coated and cured, you’re into hundreds of metres of waste material before they start. We probably can verify within 10 metres of a setup.”
Musto was particularly focused on the environmental benefits of UV Hot Melt, before discovering the range of production benefits it brings; as he states: “The typical production and products in the market are solvent-based or water-based adhesive technologies. What we wanted to do from day one is become a greener production site for all of the standard product ranges, across a broad spectrum of applications.”
“With our GEW UV curing system, we are solvent-free, so we don’t have to worry about destroying any solvent waste either through extraction processes or recycling or cleaning. We have no requirement for additional heat sources, abatement systems, all using electrical energy. Without solvents, we don’t have the concerns about the destruction of the VOCs that are generated, which is through another heat source of either an oxidation chamber or some other abatement system, which also then emits a certain amount of pollutants into the air.”
Tim Self is a Director at TS Converting Equipment, who supplied the Elite Cameron HM1000 coating line at Nu-Coat. He agrees: “I think there’s a big emphasis on that, on every machine at the moment, that we have to design with the environmental issues in the forefront of our mind. Coating is a massive opportunity to have a big effect, because of course it’s using a lot of product on a continuous basis. UV Hot Melts enabled us to get away from the traditional methods of coating and our customers see the benefit.”
Regarding the technical aspects of UV Hot Melt adhesives versus the conventional type, Self comments: “Traditional Hot Melts are rubber-based adhesives and are not particularly good in performance in extreme conditions. There’s been a lot of development with the UV range of Hot Melts, which can not only match but also outperform in many cases the traditional products… you extrude 100% solid adhesive onto the product so there’s no carrier as there would be in a solvent and a water-based system… which you then have to remove from the process and that’s where a lot of energy goes. UV offers a very cost effective way of producing high performance laminates. A further advantage of UV adhesives versus the conventional type is the ability to vary coat weight, and the durability and stability of the end product.”