Paper Layup Machine
Botanical PaperWorks, a leading producer of environmentally friendly seed paper products, makes biodegradable seed paper from post-consumer waste. The process to create these products is labour intensive. The process starts by creating a paper and seed slurry, where a mesh screen scoops up the slurry and forms it into a wet sheet. Pressure is applied on the sheets to reduce water weight, after which the paper goes to the drying station. Once the paper is dry, the paper is printed and packaged according to the orders. The current paper thickness ranges from 0.223 mm to 0.273 mm, a 10% variation, across both a single sheet of paper and across multiple sheets, due to inaccuracies in the handmade process. The objective of this project was to develop a process that will reduce paper thickness variation to 3% between sheets and within a single piece of paper. As well, the process will decrease operator strain from a subjective strain scale of 5/10 to 3/10and increase the current output to more than the current 96 sheets per hour, up to an ideal value of 192 sheets per hour. The team generated 15 concepts that were compared against each other by using a screening matrix and a weighted scoring matrix. Eight concepts advanced to the testing and design phase. From these eight concepts, six concepts were designed and tested by rapid proto-typing. The six that were tested were a slurry shaker, slicer, a scooter, a roller press, a piston, and a change in process layout. The remaining two, the modified hydraulic press and the thickness sensor, were not able to be tested due to a lack of testing equipment. A unique element throughout this project is that the team has not been looking for the single best concept, but rather the ideal process. This means that although the best concepts were identified, they may not create the ideal process when combined. Through analysis of the test results, the following six concepts were optimized to create the ideal process: a slurry shaker to improve paper tolerances, a scooter to reduce operator strain, a roller press...