Flow phenomena in fixed-gap and gravure roll coating systems
This thesis describes investigations into a number of coating processes using experimental, analytical and computational techniques. The first problem, considered experimentally, is that of reverse roll coating with a liquid reservoir positioned directly above horizontally aligned rollers. Measurements of the film thickness as a function of the height of fluid in the reservoir and speed ratio are presented. When the wetting line is located downstream of the nip, either a decrease in the height of the associated hydrostatic head or an increase in the speed ratio causes a reduction in the thickness of the outgoing film. However, when the wetting line is located upstream of the nip the opposite is found to be true. The bead-break instability in forward meniscus coating is considered both experimentally and analytically. Agreement between predictions from a simple mathematical model of the stable bead and experimentally determined meniscus positions is seen to be excellent. A perturbation hypothesis is used to predict the onset of the bead-break instability, at which the upstream meniscus accelerates rapidly towards the downstream one, so the two collide and the bead collapses. The results from the model compare well with experiments. An outline of a method for using the bead-break instability as a design criterion is also presented. Typically in a slot, blade or knife coater the downstream meniscus is assumed to pin at a corner of the coating device. In chapter 5, a series of experiments and a corresponding computational study, are presented which illustrate that the meniscus can advance up the face of such coating devices (in this case a roll-flat plate system). Reducing the corner angle is seen to reduce the size of the climb region and the associated recirculation at this point at the downstream meniscus. It is also shown that the meniscus can detach from the corner and retreat into the gap, which can in turn give rise to the ribbing instability. An offset gravure coating arrangement is considered in chapter 6. The coating arrangement is split into two areas of study - the offset gravure nip and the kiss coating bead. An experimental investigation of the offset nip with the two rolls vertically aligned and running at the same speed in forward mode reveals two ways in which the metered film thickness can be influenced. Either increasing the nip force by pressing the two rolls together or decreasing the roll speeds causes a reduction in the metered film thickness. At higher speeds the metered film thickness is observed to asymptote to a limiting value, the value of which depends on the gravure pattern. The reverse mode kiss coating bead operating at speed ratios greater than one is also investigated. Experiments reveal that under these conditions, all the fluid is transferred from the roll surface to the web and the two make contact due to the generation of a sub-ambient pressure field within the bead. Two models based on lubrication theory are derived, one assuming an infinitely tensioned web and a second that incorporates the effect of web flexibility. The latter is found to give much better agreement with the experimental data. Finally a perturbation hypothesis is applied to these to models in order to predict the onset of the ribbing instability, both of which are found to give reasonable agreement with the experimental data. Finally, the results of a systematic experimental investigation of reverse mode direct gravure coating is reported, where the web runs directly over a gravure roll surface. This wide ranging parametric study illustrates the effect of the operating parameters on the final film thickness. Key findings are that speed ratio, fluid properties and cell shape and size can significantly influence the final film thickness. For a fixed roll speed it is observed that as the web speed is increased the gravure bead becomes unstable. This results in streaking on the web, and gives an upper limit to the speed ratio.