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Machine for cutting products from a mass rope

08 December 2015

Theegarten-Pactec modified the cutting section of the FPW5 modular forming, cutting and wrapping machine to create the RC1 and now offers a new machine for high-speed cutting from a mass rope
Theegarten-Pactec modified the cutting section of the FPW5 modular forming, cutting and wrapping machine to create the RC1 and now offers a new machine for high-speed cutting from a mass rope

Theegarten-Pactec has extended the range of applications for its cutting and wrapping machines. 

Acting on a customer request, Theegarten-Pactec modified the cutting section of its continuous motion high-performance machines. The result is a stand-alone rope cutter known as RC1 or Rope Cutter 1. The machine is capable of cutting products off a mass rope at high speed and transferring the single products to downstream steps in the production process such as sugar-coating machines or machines that pack them in jars.

Theegarten-Pactec’s genuine core competence lies in wrapping small pieced confectionery items, which would include cutting soft caramels from a mass rope before wrapping them individually in a wide variety of styles. A special case arose following a request made by a longstanding customer, a major global player in the confectionary industry. They wanted the individual products to be cut off the mass rope at high speed but not subsequently wrapped. In this case, the products were to go to another supplier to be packaged in bulk in plastic jars.

Theegarten-Pactec modified the cutting section of the FPW5 modular forming, cutting and wrapping machine to create the RC1 and now offers a new machine for high-speed cutting from a mass rope.

The RC1 is typically used for cutting products off a mass rope for subsequent packaging in bulk, either in plastic jars or – with the use of form-fill-seal machines – in bags. Products can also be sugar-coated. The machine’s equipment includes a rope monitoring sensor, a powdering unit, servo-driven pairs of forming rollers at the infeed featuring mechanical height adjustment, and the rope cutter, which is also servo-driven.

Theegarten-Pactec can provide a minimum length of 10 mm for products cut off a mass rope. The maximum length of product is unlimited. A maximum speed of 750 rotations can be achieved with the cutter, which has two blades, resulting in 1,500 individual cut products per minute. It may be possible to raise this to as many as 2,000 products. The maximum rope speed is up to 50 m/min. The machine is very compact thanks to an integrated electrical cabinet. The machine’s wide-opening guard doors and its balcony structure provide ease of access for maintenance and cleaning purposes. Even the top rollers in the pre-sizing unit allow for tool less assembly and removal to enable easy cleaning and maintenance.

The machine functions in detail
If the sensor at the infeed detects too much rope, the machine can be sped up within certain parameters to prevent a ‘rope jam’ from building up. If there’s too little rope, the speed of the RC1 will be reduced to avoid too much drag on the rope, which might otherwise break it. It’s therefore possible to compensate for manufacturing process fluctuations to a certain degree. 

Powder can optionally be applied to the rope from a powdering unit positioned before the forming rollers. This is a useful feature to have when products are particularly sticky, because it improves their conveyance through the cutter and stops them sticking together unduly inside the bulk packaging. 

The machines infeed can be equipped with two or four pairs of forming rollers. Two forming rollers are used when the cross-section of the mass that comes out of the preliminary process is relatively constant. If the rope’s cross-section is subject to very high tolerances, four pairs of rollers are the best choice to enable some final shaping of the rope. The forming rollers are controlled by a separate servo drive. The rope speed can therefore be controlled independently of all other machine functions via the touch panel and it’s easy to change the setting so that more or less rope goes into each cut product. As a result, the operator can react quickly to any changes in the density of the product rope and keep the weight of the individual products constant. Changes of product size can also be handled via the touch panel.

The mechanical height adjustability of the forming rollers at the infeed of the RC1 also enables the shape of the end product to be adjusted: the shape of the product is determined by the length of its cross-section, which is displayed on a scale. 

A rotating rope cutter with two blades is used to cut the individual products from the mass rope, thereby cutting two products with each revolution. Long products are an exception here, as only one blade can be used in this case. The tilted blade ensures that the product is cut off straight despite the fact that the rope is continuously moving. 

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