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A new PC-based control system that covers all aspects of the powder coating process has been developed by ITW Gema (Indianapolis, IN).
The company says its OptiControl system can improve the accuracy, efficiency, and economy of automated powder coating systems to provide repeatable, high-quality powder coating. With a graphical user interface and color touch-screen control, the system facilitates control and monitoring of all powder application systems and operations. Operators can easily control all application parameters, and all parameters can be easily recalled for accurate adjustment of powder delivery, current, voltage, gun movement, and other system settings.
According to ITW Gema, the system’s PC-based technology provides easy setup and adjustments and requires minimal training and operator experience. The system’s software is configured to operate in multiple languages, and it is fully modular—operating software and program parameters are stored on a compact flash memory card for data security and flexibility.
The company says the system can help users save money by providing multiple benefits for powder coaters, including improved powder utilization and reduced equipment wear. By helping coaters minimize overspray, develop more consistent film builds, increase first-pass transfer efficiency and monitor process information, OptiControl helps powder coaters get higher productivity at a lower cost and saves money.
According to the company, one of the system’s main positive attributes is flexibility to adapt to a variety of application requirements. Gun movement and triggering, for example, can be accomplished in several ways.
For example, triggering can be via line gap, which turns off guns when a gap between parts is detected and resumes operation when a part is sensed by a photo cell or light curtain. For parts with varying heights and widths, vertical zone and horizontal placement triggering senses the different part sizes passing through the booth and turns guns in specific zones on and off. Optional in/out positioners let users maintain target distances by horizontal placement. Independent control of positioners on each side of the product permits greater flexibility and customization of motion.
Lead/lag triggering is adjustable through the operator interface for parts that require extra spray time, to reduce powder build-up on edges of parts, or for parts with recessed areas.
Control can also extend to other production systems in the plant for networking and coordination of all processes. The software is said to allow for easy expansion by eliminating the need for extensive reprogramming when adding guns or other process equipment. It can provide control of up to 24 automatic guns and up to four axes of gun movement.
Other system capabilities include global adjustment, which allows operators to make changes without affecting individual parameter settings; integrated control of gun triggering and digital valve control to ensure consistent voltage and air flow to the gun; and a quick copy feature that speeds up programming of application parameters. The system works with ITW Gema’s OptiFlex automatic powder coating guns, powder pumps, and other hardware.