We live in a world where everything from clothes and furniture to pharmaceuticals and food can be purchased online with a click of a button and delivered to your door within days or even hours. All of these items arrive in packaging, more than likely in some type of corrugated cardboard box, that is specifically designed to keep these important products intact during transportation.
Corrugated cardboard boxes are the world's most widely used packaging material – and are becoming increasingly more in demand. That also means that corrugated-box manufacturers will need to increase their production capabilities to keep up with the growing demand.
Like all manufacturing processes, the one for corrugated boxes is a precise operation, with specific steps needing to be performed error-free each and every time. One of these stages involves transferring an adhesive that holds the cardboard sheets in a corrugated box together.
This adhesive, known as cornstarch glue, is created by mixing cornstarch, chemicals and boiling water to form a thick and pasty liquid that is inexpensive, non-toxic, heat resistant, insoluble with fats and oils, and easy to apply. The cornstarch glue is then transferred and applied onto layers of corrugated sheets that are pressed together to form the corrugated shape of alternating grooves and ridges.
Although straightforward, transferring and pumping the cornstarch glue into the machine that corrugates the cardboard sheets can be extremely challenging for manufacturers.
A Sticky Situation
The challenge in this process that the pump must overcome is found in the fact that cornstarch glue can be difficult to pump because of its adhesive nature and high viscosity. In addition to being sticky and thick, any liquid cornstarch glue that remains within the pump’s internals when it is not operating will harden. In this case, this hardened glue can cause premature wear that will adversely affect the ability of the pump’s mechanical seals/faces and bushings to operate properly. Even worse, when seals and bushings fail, the pump will be prone to leaks, which not only results in lost product, the cost of which can’t be recouped, but increases safety concerns and the need for costly cleanup procedures.
When operators face the challenges of pumping cornstarch glue, they have two options. They can replace the seals frequently, assuming there is enough spare inventory available – and if the pump hasn’t already suffered damage from the cornstarch glue. If regularly replacing seals is not an option, operators can replace the entire pump.=
Regardless, either option is costly, requiring maintenance and downtime that decreases an operation's overall performance and efficiency. The ideal solution is to use pumping technology designed to combat the many challenges of handling cornstarch glue.
Thinking Outside The Box
When it comes to effectively, reliably and safely handling thick, adhesive cornstarch glue, one of the best pumping technologies is air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD). Specifically, Wilden® provides AODD technology that is especially suited for sticky cornstarch-glue applications.
For transferring cornstarch glue, Wilden offers clamped and bolted AODD pumps in various sizes that are easy to operate, install and maintain. Both designs are portable, self-priming and offer dry-run capability without any mechanical seals. Wilden clamped metal AODD pumps can easily be installed and serviced with one tool. The Wilden bolted metal AODD pump is designed with an enhanced flow path that produces flow rates up to 35% higher than competitive models.
For both versions, aluminum and stainless-steel models are available. For the thick and adhesive nature of cornstarch glue, Wilden recommends using a ductile-iron wetted path.
Outfitting these pumps with the Wilden innovative Pro-Flo® SHIFT Air Distribution System (ADS) and Chem-Fuse Integral Piston Diaphragm (IPD) provides the performance and product containment needed to handle the challenges of cornstarch glue properly.
The Pro-Flo SHIFT ADS features an air-control spool that automatically eliminates the overcharging of the air chamber without reducing the flow rate. In doing so, the pump can produce 34% greater flow rates while simultaneously achieving 60% in energy savings.
Similarly, the Chem-Fuse IPD helps eliminate leak points and abrasion risk. Available in Wil-Flex™ (Santoprene®) and non-food-grade Saniflex™ (Hytrel®) materials, the IPD design is suited for significantly increasing diaphragm life and reducing the chance of fugitive cornstarch glue nesting in dead zones within the diaphragm setup.
The Pro-Flo SHIFT and Chem-Fuse work together with the innovative Wilden AODD pump design to create a solution for the unique challenges of cornstarch glue applications.
Packaging It All Up
Without cornstarch glue, corrugated cardboard boxes would simply be individual cardboard sheets offering no structure and security for the important packages needing to be delivered. However, with Wilden pumping technology, corrugated cardboard boxes can be the strong and dependable packaging material it was designed to be.
To learn more about how Wilden helps corrugated-box manufacturers with their challenging cornstarch-glue applications, read the article: Identifying the Best Pumps for Use in Corrugated-Box Manufacturing.