20 June 2022. One year ago, Voith started up the world’s most modern pilot coater in its Technology Center in Heidenheim, Germany, after an extensive rebuild. Since then, the demand for pilot trials for coated and sized paper grades has increased enormously. In particular, barrier coatings for sustainable packaging papers are being explored by numerous customers from countries around the world. Together with the other pilot machines, all production steps throughout the entire papermaking process are covered – from stock preparation to coating and calendering.
“With the help of the state-of-the-art pilot coater, we can drive innovation together with our customers while minimizing investment risks,” explains Georg Scholl, R&D Engineer at Voith Paper. “In an efficient way, we develop new processes and products. By optimizing raw materials and production parameters, our customers can also identify significant cost-saving potential. The utilization of the pilot coater is very good, and we are conducting many customer trials.”
The high-capacity utilization of the pilot machine can be attributed in particular to increasing consumer demand for sustainable packaging solutions. In general social discourse, barrier papers, which can be used in a variety of ways, are coming into focus as a viable alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Ideally, barrier papers meet the same functional requirements, are recyclable and biodegradable.
The world’s most modern pilot coater from Voith enables pilot trials of the demanding coating process and ensures that, in addition to the perfect application of one or more functional layers, the drying of the sometimes temperature-sensitive application media also functions perfectly. Customers can test up to 18 different coating variants without having to interrupt their own production.
“Together with our customers, we develop sustainable packaging solutions for the future,” says Nina Köpl, R&D Engineer Sustainable Packaging at Voith Paper. “For example, we work together to find the best overall process for the pretreatment of the base paper, for the application, and for the drying of our customers’ individual barrier solutions. If necessary, adjustments are also made to the machine technology used.” Experienced experts from Voith accompany all test runs and advise customers individually for the best result. The experts are also available after the trials, whether by presenting new ideas, further development of the innovations or even an extensive service partnership.
Pilot trials to evaluate the recycling potential
In addition to the production of barrier papers, Voith Paper also offers trials for stock preparation. In the Fiber Technology Center, customers can directly test the recyclability of their newly developed papers. The pilot stock preparation covers the entire process for primary and secondary fiber stock for board, packaging, specialty papers and graphic papers. All machines are available on an industrial scale. Both trials with individual units and complex system trials can be realized by customers on site.
“We test the recyclability with the help of the latest processes and products,” says Jürgen Dočkal-Baur, Expert R&D Fiber Processes at Voith Paper. “It is important to us that the customer can take a look at the entire process and that the fibers can also be optimally reprocessed. For the process analysis, we use the latest online measurement technology from BTG and carry out extensive laboratory measurements in parallel with the trials.”
Technology centers at Voith Paper
In addition to the Fiber Technology Center in Heidenheim, Voith offers test trials for coating and stock preparation processes as well as new product developments at the Motomiya site in Japan. Customers, especially from the APAC region, take advantage of this offer. Another technology center is located in Düren, Germany. Here, trials for wet-laid products can be carried out on a paper machine equipped with HydroFormer and inclined wire. Further information can be found at https://voith.com/corp-en/industry-solutions/papermaking/technology-center.html.
Sustainability program Papermaking for Life
The development of new innovations and the optimum production of sustainable packaging solutions are the main topics of the recently launched Papermaking for Life sustainability program. As part of the innovation and development offensive, Voith Paper is presenting versatile technologies and initiatives that lead to more efficient and sustainable processes in paper production. The focus is on water, energy and fiber savings as well as digitalization, innovations and partnerships as levers for more sustainable production.