Tech|Tips – 3DL: The Importance of Pressroom Environment
Back in the early days of 3D Laminating, there was a commonly held belief that the path to a successful manufacturing operation included creating temperature controlled and pressurized “clean rooms” in which to operate. Rumor had it that any dust or temperature variation in the lamination department would drive scrap rates to unbearably high levels. As a result, many companies opted to outsource out of fear that the requirements to bring production in house were cost-prohibitive.
Looking back, I’m not sure how this rumor ever got started. The pressrooms of some of the largest and most well respected companies in the industry that I know certainly don’t have the set-up described. The companies that did were usually smaller, single press operations that closed off their pressroom and spray booth in a room with low ceilings. This did not, however, always include climate controlling material storage which, as we will learn, has a major impact on quality. Ironically, those smaller companies that immediately come to mind are now all closed.
Though a certified clean room may be both unrealistic and unnecessary, there are some non-negotiables when it comes to the pressroom environment. Not surprisingly, many of them have been ignored throughout the history of the process. I can still remember the day I was standing next to an operating press when suddenly a nearby exterior overhead door was opened all the way. Both the wind and dirt from the gravel driveway brushed across my face in an instant. I stood there in utter disbelief.
Once the process is understood, the requirements to be successful are really just common sense. Companies that are committed to producing a consistently high quality product will not be intimidated by them. Ambient temperature range and consistency, material temperatures, air flow, humidity, and cleanliness are all factors that need to be considered. Though the environmental requirements for a quality pressroom are significant, they are not unrealistic.
Over the next few blogs we will address these critical issues in detail. Stay tuned!