BY ANDRE PALKO
STATIC STRATEGIES: SOME QUICK TIPS
Prior to the age of digital printing equipment, a static problem typically reared its head in the cold, dry winter months. Modern copiers and some digital presses are subject to static problems year-round, and the increasing complexity of printing and finishing equipment means there is simply more opportunity for the creation of static charges.
THE BIG BUILDUP
The lower relative humidity of winter creates an environment where static charges don’t dissipate as easily as they do with normal relative humidity in the 40–50% range. That’s because moisture is a conductor. Less moisture in the air means there is nothing to carry away the electric charge that is building up. When a static charge in paper builds up, sheets will stick together, resist registering, refuse to enter the fold plates, or just won’t go where they’re supposed to go, whether on the folding machine or other bindery equipment.
The best overall preventive measure is to maintain the relative humidity somewhere in the normal range by adding humidifying equipment to the heating and air conditioning system. Yet, even if you manage to work in an ideal environment, static problems can still arise.
Engineering specialists in static tell me that determining where the static is created is the first step to fixing the problem. In an ideal world, an engineer would come in with a static meter and find the culprit. Then you apply the fix, such as ionizing air nozzles or static neutralizing bars.
The pressroom and bindery have hundreds of potential points of static creation—basically any point where two unequally charged surfaces come together and pull apart. (This can be paper and/or machine components.) Proper grounding of equipment is also important.
What works for one job may not work on the next one. If the point of static creation changes, so, too, must the point of static elimination. Hang in there!
Andre Palko is President of Technifold USA.