Following the Tissue World event held in Milan in March 2019, Futura held an open house demonstration of its latest technology at its FuturaLab facility in Lucca, Italy. Visitors observed the benefits of JOI Hydro-bond, which Futura summarizes as the “sticking power of water.”
The company demonstrated that “perfect adhesion” of up to four bathroom-tissue plies can be achieved with water alone—totally without glue.
Sergio Tonarelli, chief sales officer, Futura, says the technology was developed thanks to the company’s constant search for new processes and improving existing ones. “Laminating with glue has limitations because glue does not apply well at high speed; 600-650 m/min is the limit for glue, so by eliminating it we can go faster.”
A key role in developing the technology was Futura’s Zero Deflexion steel marrying roll, developed by the company’s founder Fabio Perini. It allows the application of a specific pressure five to 10 times that of a conventional marrying roll at the nip. Combining high pressure with water means hydrogen bonds are created, and a converter can bond three to four plies by recreating the process generally observed in paper formation. This gives perfect adhesion of the plies, according to Giovacchino Giurlani, Futura’s chief technology officer.
“It was apparent for a while that a steel marrying roll could use less glue, but it was hard to believe just water could do it,” said Giurlani. “We like to push the envelope. The steel marrying roll is proven technology and some months ago, with a push from customers, we decided to try just water. The next step was to bring it to market.”
According to Giurlani, the results were “astonishing.” Therefore, before publishing any results, the company took quite a few months to try other tissue grades and field tested the technology with customers in Chile and Russia early in 2019. Commercial results matched the pilot trials, demonstrating that the technology works well with either traditional or structured bathroom tissue. Work still needs to be done with 100 percent recycled bathroom tissue, and with wet strength treated tissue.
The converter does not need to use purified water, though it could be an advantage to keep the machine even cleaner. The amount of water used is the same as for glue and it is applied almost the same way. When glue is used, Giurlani points out, most of it is water anyway.
The technical changes to the machine are not so extensive that it should be considered a prototype. The differences are the synchronization between the anilox and applicator rolls—only a motor needs to be changed. However, the machine retains its flexibility to run with glue if needed (e.g., kitchen towel) and to change the embosser rolls.
Giurlani explains: “One of the limitations in the embosser was achieving the adhesion of the plies while keeping the machine clean. The cleaning systems used could not completely eliminate glue accumulation, therefore any dirt on the steel marrying roll tends to stick to the web and cause breaks.”
So although mechanical and electrical maintenance will be unchanged because the same number of rolls are used, the overall result is much improved due to cleanliness.
Giurlani emphasizes: “The main advantage of JOI Hydro-bond is to make the machine sustainable. The end product may not seem different but, with JOI Hydro-bond, the machine can run faster and cleaner, so we are helping increase productivity. Speed is not the be-all and end-all; it is more important for customers to claim the JOI Hydro-bond technology as an environmental tool rather than a strictly technical one, because there are fewer chemicals going into the product. In a consumer-centered sector such as tissue, customers react positively to product differentiation. It is a step forward toward going green.”