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Sandy Hill development center: nonwovens experimental line continues to test practical applications.

Sandy Hill Development Center Because of the unique research and development methods nonwovens demand, Sandy Hill Corp., Hudson Falls, NY, has put together a specialized development center-a nonwovens testing ground. The center, located at the Hudson Falls facility, was started in 1947 with a single machine. The center has since grown with the nonwovens industry; one of the most recent innovations is the Sigmaformer, an improved process for forming microglass mats.

The development center can test variables in nonwovens production such as finish, length and diameter of fibers, dispersion chemicals, mix consistency, forming element, suction box structure, drying method, binders and their application, special coatings, creping, calendering and embossing, headbox consistency, types of pumps and valves and line speed.

Sandy Hill's machinery duplicates on-machine realities in every facet except for width. While a full-sized machine would require five tons of material for a test, Sandy Hill's experimental lines use only 25-30 pounds, cutting costs and saving valuable production time. Sandy Hill prototypes are built, fitted and tested to exact specifications, and equipment trials establish final design, operating parameters and performance characteristics.

One Center - Many Uses

Three basic objectives are met at the Development Center, said John Harke, Sandy Hill's operations manager. "Of primary importance is the testing and continued improvement of Sandy Hill's own line of equipment for the nonwovens and paper industries," he said. "It's the ideal testing ground for prototypes and processes developed by the company's engineering staff. By modeling and simulating actual operating conditions, they gain insight into the production process."

The center is also used as a test line for potential customers. Mr. Harke explained: "Let's say a customer is considering the purchase of a Sandy Hill 'Deltaformer.' They have a particular product in mind and they want to know if the Deltaformer can do it. We'll run a sheet in the development center and let customers see for themselves; they can possibly even test market the product."

Facility rental is also possible at the development center. Sandy Hill rents to companies on a per-day basis for experimentation and development of their own products. Privacy is guaranteed, since code names and numbers rather than company names are used.

The development center, which houses the pilot equipment, laboratory and Sandy Hill R&D, offers flexibility along with a wide range of tests. Its two formers and two dryers can be configured in numerous ways, and two presses can be single or double-felted. Speeds up to 1500 fpm are possible, and even the headboxes are designed with movable parts. "The lab never looks the same from one week to the next," commented Michael Dunn, manager, technical services.

What Lies Ahead

For the developers at Sandy Hill's center, the future lies in filtration. "We see our next challenge in the filtration area-ultra-filtration, micro-filtration and multi-ply," said Mr. Harke. "Specifically, one area we are working on is layered blends for filtration applications. Double air filters are currently joined off-machine. We're working to produce them right on the machine and roll them off on one pass. The resulting machine would be both more economical and more durable."

Practicality is the name of the game at the development center. While much of the research involves fine science, a lot of empirical testing also goes on. "Experimentation is always encouraged," said Mr. Harke. "It's a philosophy that's worked well for us and for our customers."

Sandy Hill does not consider itself a research lab so much as a support operation. "We're here to prove that Sandy Hill equipment and methods can do what we claim, to test new ideas and to support the customer after the sale," Mr. Harke said. "Our research is on a more practical level, because when the customer has observed what works in here, he has a pretty fair idea what to expect in his own mill. What we provide at the development center are real solutions to real problems."
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sandy Hill Corp.
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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