Simac to the future19 May 2021
With the pandemic showing signs of abating by the end of the year as vaccination programmes continue apace, it is time to start taking a cautious look forward to one of the leather industry’s most significant trade shows, Simac Tanning Tech. The international event is due to take place in Milan in September and acts as a credible signpost for the latest developments in machinery technology. Matthew Rogerson takes a look at some of the recent product launches that are expected to feature in the show.
Simac Tanning Tech, the international exhibition of leather tanning machinery and technology, is scheduled to take place from 22–24 September 2021 at the Fiera Milano exhibition centre.
In a recent statement Gabriella Marchioni Bocca, president of Assomac, the machinery association responsible for Simac, said: “We strongly believe in the important and active role that an international trade fair can play, especially one that is so focused on the machinery sector like Simac. The pandemic has had many serious consequences and impacts, but we wanted to show resilience and demonstrate that the industry is still strong, still innovating and ready for business.” International value chains such as the fashion industry, Bocca adds, have found numerous ways forward through the physical show that they have not been able to replicate digitally in the past year.
“We wanted to enhance all the opportunities, the technological innovations and real practical solutions our industry can offer for the footwear, leather goods and tanning ecosystem,” Bocca explained. “Simac Tanning Tech is a technology platform that shows how the manufacturing sector… is attractive, buzzing and up to date with cutting-edge digital technologies, as well as sustainability and welfare issues.”
Innovations on display
Belgian-German multinational company Agfa-Gevaert will showcase its Alussa UV print system, which enables designers to customise high-quality genuine leathers with unique designs and graphics. The 2.5m wide inkjet printer is capable of printing 80m2 per hour, with TFL coatings developed for high performance; it can produce up to 100,000 dry flexes, 10,000 wet flexes and 13,000 Martindale rubs.
Alpe Spak, an industry specialist in advanced leather performance and splitting machine technology, will display its predator splitting machine. This machine features a new concept to split in line, introducing hides to the blades to protect operators from cutting and crushing. It uses an articulated roller, which acts on the rubber roller and upper transport roller, wrapped by special belt sleeves. The belt sleeves facilitate the introduction of the hide and, at the same time, protect the internal machine parts, preserving them from wear and reducing cleaning time. The belts also prevent hide markings caused by transport rollers and use several cuts to reduce the thickness that blocks the articulated roller. Cleaned by a highpressure washing system that avoids wastage, the machine reduces the need for trimming by 80% – and in some cases up to 100% – greatly improving product quality. At average speed, the machine is able to work on 300–400 hides per hour.
CSS Teca-Print, an Italian advertising and marketing company, will showcase its Azon Matrix leather printer, which prints directly onto real or artificial leather. It is equipped with an automatic substrate detection system, allowing the user to print on any cut piece or shape of material in any position on the printer table within a few seconds. The print area of 3,200mm x 1,600mm x 150mm is also available in other dimensions. The scale of the printer allows designers and manufacturers to create leather goods with consistent, durable graphics that are scratch and water resistant, as well as highly flexible. This technology is set to offer a low-cost solution to creating anything from unique to mass-produced pieces quickly and easily.
Italy’s Cosmopol has launched its 0km Serie with an eye on environmental impact. This new series of machines is designed for the heat treatment of footwear and related water-based or synthetic adhesives. Consisting of a fully anodised aluminium-bearing structure, which is lighter and more resistant to water and vapours, it is assembled without the use of welding gas and therefore prevents the introduction of harmful fumes into the atmosphere. The steel parts are only treated with water-based detergents and painted with an electrostatic system, with no use of synthetic thinners.
The design aims to contain and circulate the heated air inside the structure itself by returning it to the production circuit, reducing energy usage. The use of components with low power consumption has allowed constant control over the use of electrical energy, while careful design of the software and assembly has allowed a reduction of electrical cables and, by extension, the use of copper and plastic sheaths. The simple management and control over production times allows the machine to be used with ease, while the 4.0 network connection enables remote management.
Demaksan Tannery Machines has been serving the leather industry for many years. It is now focusing its attention and R&D efforts,on developing spray finishing solutions. Demaksan’s goal is to increase productivity and sustainability, and this is showcased by its latest product: an ultra-low power (ULP) and high-atomisation system. This technology provides high quality and efficiency at a lower cost thanks to its unique design, which breaks particles under very low pressure (0.2–0.6 bar), ensuring more efficient operation with fewer chemicals.
Chemical savings achieved by Demaksan Tannery Machines’ new ULP system.
Demaksan Tannery Machines
“Simac Tanning Tech is a technology platform that shows how the manufacturing sector… is attractive, buzzing and up to date with cutting-edge digital technologies, as well as sustainability and welfare issues.”
Gabriella Marchioni Bocca, Assomac
This design supports more environmentally friendly leather production, and the machine only applies as much paint as necessary without over-spraying. The adhesion rate of chemicals sprayed successfully under such low pressure is higher than any existing system, without bouncing back. The method avoids wastage from over-spray, reduces environmental pollution and significantly cuts finishing costs. All this leads to significant chemical savings of between 35% and 50%.
In addition to ULP technology, Demaksan uses a number of other advanced equipment and systems to ensure excellent finishing. For example, the distribution of chemical materials is an essential feature to increase the standard finish in the company’s painting system. There are chemical flow regulators attached to the guns so that each spray gun can discharge the same amount at the same time. Unlike conventional systems, a single central valve controls the amount of paint sprayed by all spray guns in the machine.
Amount of chemical products Rotacoat’s roller finishing machines can apply in a single pass.
Rotacoat, an innovative start-up, will show its range of roller finishing machines at Simac Tanning Tech. The machines take a new and original approach and are designed to uniformly distribute finishing chemicals for impregnation. They also apply fat liquors (both hot and cold), high viscosity products such as filling agents, stucco and pre-base products on both buffed and full grain leathers, as well as splits, pigments of all types, base coatings, colour coats and water-based topcoats. The machine can spread chemical products across a range of surfaces, from a few grams per square foot to a much larger quantity (50g/ft2) in a single pass. Furthermore, Rotacoat’s machines include faster colour changing and improved cleaning of the roller coater; more accurate application of the finishing film; uniform doctor blade wear thanks to motorised control; high-speed productivity at over 20m per minute; and no need to use leatherdetaching devices. All of these features bring advantages in terms of upkeep and reduction of flesh contamination, with reduced maintenance intervals and quick replacement of the rubberised belt without having to move the machine.
The heat is on
Mostardini, a leader in the design and construction of hydraulic and rotary presses, has introduced a rotary press to install its patented innovative Solaris heating system. Solaris combines the features and advantages of electric heating and diathermic oil, making it possible to reach operating working temperatures in shorter times and maintaining a uniform and constant temperature profile along all the roller during processing, all while keeping the machine clean and safe to use. The Solaris system reduces heat loss and simplifies maintenance work as it does not use the components of traditional heating systems such as a thermal control unit, rotary joints, distributors and connecting pipes.
The company’s Tecno 2 range showcases a variety of shoe machinery, including the T72 touchscreen. This is a human machine interface (HMI) 4.0 system that simplifies programming and storing recall, and guarantees control over machine parameters and production standards. It retains footwear outlines, provides multiple working pressure on sole, waist and heel, and has an inflatable cushion to press Jourdan soles. The T3000 is a hydraulic insole moulding machine with HMI 4.0 technology that allows soles to be pressed simultaneously or alternating, while a double pressing movement of the upper moulds provides locking insoles. There is a system for side positioning of an insole and automatic unloading of insoles with suckers, all while allowing different kinds of moulds to be used with a rear adjustment lock.
Meanwhile, Soraco Technologies is set to present its EL-51M heat resistance tester for patent leather at the event in September. The modified lastometer method is used to assess the heat resistance of patent leathers. For the test, a circular specimen of material is clamped and gradually distended by forcing a small metal ball on a plunger through the specimen. After it moves 7.5mm, a visual exam is made of any damage before a hot blower is positioned over the sample for a pre-set time. Finally, another visual examination is conducted and all damage is recorded.
The EL-93 flame resistance tester is a new flammability assessment system that tests the ignition and flame propagation properties of materials – including technical fabrics, general clothing, protective clothing, leather, curtains, children’s toys and pyjamas – according to several international standards. This system is fitted with a precision adjustable gas burner, which is interchangeable to meet different requirements. Specimen holders can be installed in several positions (vertical and 45o) and mounting solutions to meet a wide range of standards and applications, resulting in a highly versatile flammability testing system. In addition, Soraco will be demonstrating its EL-75 innovative electronic equipment to determinate the shrinkage temperature of leather. Samples are heated in water with a temperature up to 100°C; this test is applicable to all types of leather.
Sagitta Officina Meccanica will showcase its laser IR 1,064nm marking system for nailheads, studs, eyelets, rivets, buckles, metal and plastic parts. The galvanometric head, mounted on a height-adjustable support for easy positioning and focusing, can be used to customise metal or plastic components of shoes, bags and belts with writing, logos, brands, codes and designs. This marking on metal is impossible with traditional CO2 lasers. The company’s bridge numerical-controlled machine comes with four application heads and four interchangeable feeders to attach studs.
In addition, Sagitta will display a computerised numerical control (CNC) machine with its ‘Guida Macchina’ vision system. The scan is performed by a special camera and illuminator that can identify shapes even with a low colour contrast. The system recognises the shapes, sees the real positions and sends them to the CNC machine to attach the studs.
The RP 68 TE Air is a folding machine with a hot air system that reactivates water-based glue and offers a soft fold without any thickness, as if it had been done by hand. Also present at the show will be Sagitta’s 10W MKR laser marking system for bags and shoes. The blue laser has a wavelength of 450nm, about 20 times smaller than that of the traditional CO2 laser (10.6μm). It is a cold beam close to UV radiation; the short wavelength gives the photons more energy, so they are more effective on materials. Powered by only 10W of energy, it is both an affordable and an efficient solution.