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Straw-handling technology moves into the nineties.

Straw-Handling Technology Moves into the Nineties

What is said to be the first commercially available automatic system from a U.S. manufacturer for drinking-straw handling has been developed by Conair Gatto, Hauppauge, N.Y. The device is used at the end of a straw extrusion line and automatically moves straws to the next phase of operation. The unit, which is said to offer significant labor savings, coincides with the offering of a newly redesigned straw wrapper that can accommodate both paper and film.


The Automatic Straw Collector uses a rotary drum configuration with a belt outfeed to place straws in a box, keeping them in an oriented alignment for bulk handling. Alternate functions such as conveying to the flexing or wrapping machine can also be performed. The main rotary collection drum is positioned at the discharge of the cutoff machine to capture each straw as it exits. The drum has individual slots with external collars to contain each straw in a positive fashion as it indexes straws to the belt outfeed conveyor. The unit is said to accommodate standard straws.

The drive arrangement is synchronized with the cutter drive as line speeds are increased or decreased. A provision for timing adjustment between the cutter and collector has also been incorporated. The company claims to have successfully tested the process at outputs of 800 straws/min.

The belt outfeed is based on dual O-ring belt drives, top and bottom, for a sandwiching effect on the straw. This provides controlled movement of the straw as it moves out of the drum and into either the collecting box or the feed hopper of the next machine.

Ernest Preiato, v.p. of sales for Conair Gatto, claims that labor savings is a major benefit of the unit, due to the lack of availability of unskilled labor to collect straws at the end of an extrusion line. He adds that, in general, automation of downstream operations is an area that has been lacking in extrusion, and that this will be major market that the company will pursue in the future.

The Automated Straw Collector is available on new extrusion systems, and can be field-retrofitted to existing extrusion lines. Approximate price of the stand-alone unit is $25,000.


In addition, the company has redesigned its Automatic Straw Wrapper to allow processors a choice between paper and film wrapping of straws. According to Preiato, film makes a better seal, is more sanitary than paper, and is less expensive. Although the cost difference between film and paper can vary, he estimates film to cost 25% less.

The unit is capable of wrapping and printing 650 straws/min on average. It can wrap regular, cocktail, or jumbo straws, needs only one operator, and comes optional with a one- or two-color printer. Cost of the stand-alone unit is about $30,000. (CIRCLE 23)

PHOTO : Conair Gatto's Automated Straw Collector is positioned at the end of the cutter. As the straws are cut, they feed into the rotary drum; then they are conveyed to the belt outfeed to the next stage. Gatto claims that the main benefit of the system, which is retrofittable, is labor savings.

PHOTO : The company also redesigned its Automated Straw Wrapper to allow processors a choice of wrapping with film or paper. The unit is said to be capable of wrapping and printing 650 straws/min.
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Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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