Cibra Nova, a Milan-based manufacturer of machines that weld plastic film, has developed a new glove-making machine that is capable of producing disposable gloves made not only of conventional materials, but also from Novamont's Mater-Bi bioplastic. It is not the first time the company has produced gloves from this material, says Augusto Colombo of Cibra Nova. "We started making them in 2003, but we were much too far ahead of our time," he said. "Competitors from Asia came onto the market with extremely cheap gloves made from conventional materials, and we could not compete. So we stopped."
Now, almost 15 years later, the situation has changed. "We decided we'd try again. We've partnered with Novamont and now we're trying to build demand for these gloves, using Novamont's Mater-Bi material. We see that people appreciate the value of that," said Colombo.
Cibra Nova patented its first welding machine in 1953, and presented its first semiautomatic machine to make disposable plastic gloves at Plast 1968. Now, over 40 years later, Cibra has introduced its new B.Glove machine at Plast 2015, which is capable of welding both conventional materials and Novamont's biodegradable and compostable Mater-Bi material.
The B.Glove welder can process two lines at the same time. The film is advanced automatically by two unwind units with tension control and pneumatic dancer roll. The welding head, equipped with two glove dies that weld two gloves each, produces four gloves in each cycle. The dies serve to guide the welding process, enabling heat to be applied to a specific contact area with the help of a resistive heating element.
"We had to make some adjustments to the dies, in order to be able to use this biodegradable material," said Colombo.
The gloves are picked up automatically and stacked in batches on cold pins on two conveyor belts according to a predetermined quantity. The length of the conveyor belts can be tailored to the customer's specification. The glove pick-up process can be manual or automatic: The line running at Plast 2015 is equipped with a robot that removes the gloves from the pins when the pre-set quantity is reached and places them in a box. All generated waste is automatically removed and deposited in a special container.
The sealing dies are developed by the company to specification and can easily be replaced to produce different sizes and types of gloves—or even similarly sized bags. The production speed depends on the type of film, the length of the glove and whether or not the glove collection process has been automated, but, said Colombo: "The maximum speed is 60 strokes, or 240 gloves per minute."
The new machine is an innovation that fits with today's sustainability trends, said Colombo, adding: "This time around, I think we got our timing right. At least, I hope so!"