Especially during winter months when heating systems are operational, packaging operations managers must deal with dry paper and packaging materials and the inherent cracking and shrinkage that can occur. Plastics, coatings and films used in conjunction with sophisticated packaging options are also affected by low humidity.
FOCUS System for Precision Humidity
MicroCool’s humidification systems are engineered to alleviate dry conditions across a range of production spaces. The flash evaporation solution can improve workspace conditions for machinery and materials.
- Flexible Configuration — Customized solutions with multi-zone capability.
- High Ceilings Not Required — Ideal for low headroom environments (8’ minimum).
Low Humidity – The Problem You Can’t See
Low humidity causes a variety of problems in production and manufacturing. Static from low humidity is detrimental to many industries and causes downtime and product loss. Static impacts manufacturing of electronics, films, plastics and paper.
The proper application of humidity keeps production online and optimized.
Why Humidification for Printing, Packaging and Manufacturing?
Low relative humidity can increase static electricity, cause paper jams, machinery breaks and even fires. Low humidity can also cause problems with materials, composites and plastics. MicroCool systems add just the right amount of humidity to production spaces in order to prevent these problems.
- Energy Savings Potential — MicroCool’s innovative system runs only as needed to meet a set-point.
- Precise Humidity Control — Humidity can be targeted to specific higher heat areas where dry conditions can cause static.
- Sustainability of Equipment Warranties — Many manufacturers specify humidity levels for warranty compliance.
Benefits of Adding Humidity
Wintertime heating and summertime cooling HVAC systems cause dry conditions and low relative humidity. Both factors increase levels of static, degrade dimensional stability of materials, and compromise drying, curing and finishing processes. Adding humidity is one of the best ways to keep production online.
- Consistent Indoor Environment — Offset dry conditions with humidification.
- Keep Production Moving and Machinery Online — Reduce downtime for repairs.
Humidification Systems For Paper And Packaging
Paper has played a vital role in the progress of humanity through the ages. It also happens to be one of the most fragile materials in existence. Storing paper is no easy task. Even minor variations in the physical properties of paper can have adverse effects during printing and other production processes.
Humidity is a critical factor when it comes to the commercial or industrial handling and storage of paper. An industrial humidification system is a must-have in any facility that handles large volumes of paper.
Paper Is Vulnerable to Humidity
Paper is made from wood pulp and contains cellulose fiber as its key ingredient. Wood is naturally hygroscopic – it readily absorbs and releases moisture in response to changes in surrounding temperature and humidity levels.
Paper has inherited this trait wholesale from its primary source, wood. It is constantly trying to maintain a state of equilibrium with its surrounding air. It does so by reacting to the current relative humidity (RH) levels of air.
At a high relative humidity level (above 55%-60%), paper will start absorbing moisture from the air. It only takes the cellulose fibers 30 seconds to start this process. As they absorb water, the fibers will swell, leading to changes in the shape of the paper sheets. Some sheets may also appear limp due to excess dampness. Eventually, you will end up with paper that is either wrinkled or warped.
Low humidity occurs during the dry winter spells with cooler temperatures. Excessive dryness in the air forces paper to release what little moisture content it already has – typically between 5% and 10% depending on the type of paper. As the fibers lose water, they develop tight edges and curl and shrink in size. There is also a buildup of static electricity, which can affect the printing process.
Why You Need Optimal Paper Humidity
Controlling humidity is important for paper storage due to safety, productivity, and financial reasons. The relative humidity and ambient temperatures have to be tightly controlled using a combination of efficient HVAC and industrial humidifier systems. Any failure on this front could result in the following undesirable effects:
Extreme temperatures and reduced humidity in the environment increases the risk of forest fires. In the right circumstances, it can also increase the risk of fires in a paper storage facility. Paper burns readily so all steps should be taken to prevent it from becoming dry.
Printer heads require the paper feed to fit the exact specifications. If the multiple sheets of paper are misshapen or curled, it may get stuck at the machine head. Paper jams can lead to frequent disruptions in the printing process. Even if it is fed smoothly, the print quality could be severely affected.
For one, printer ink may spread or smudge if the paper has excess moisture in it. With dry paper, electrostatic charges can potentially damage the highly sensitive electronic components in modern digital printing systems.
Paper is not a very eco-friendly product since it requires the cutting down of vast tracts of forests. Any wastage of paper is highly undesirable from a sustainability perspective. Improper storage without humidity control will lead to a considerable waste of paper.
How to Store Paper Effectively with MicroCool
Even minor temperature and humidity changes can affect the quality and viability of paper. Consistent temperature and moisture levels are essential – with the latter preferably between 50% and 75% in the surrounding environment.
To retain dimensional stability, the paper should be kept inside its original packaging and storage boxes until 24 hours before printing. To bring an equilibrium between the surroundings and the paper, the reams have to be opened and kept exposed for at least a day in an area with ideal temperature and moisture.
MicroCool has decades of experience designing high-pressure fog humidifying systems for a wide array of industries, including the paper printing industry. To learn more about our industrial-grade humidifiers, book an appointment with our fog experts by filling out this form or calling us at 1-800-322-4364 today.
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