|PAT Technology Systems, CaptivAir|
Pat Technology Systems is a known and respected company in Quebec, Canada. Occasionally I see their CaptivAir cleaning and purification equipment at trade shows. PAT is one of the two main solvent ink odor purification systems; the other is ICA (Island Clean Air).
PAT Technology Systems also makes UV-curing laminators, such as the Rotoworx and VarStar
The VarStar is a sheet fed UV coating machine. The Rotoworx is a narrow format system for assembly-line printing and finishing. I am more familiar with the PAT Captivair air purification systems, so am not yet prepared with enough experience on the PAT Rotoworx and PAT VarStar laminators to evaluate them. I tend to see the bedigital laminator more often at trade shows (in Europe).
Where, at what point in the VOC chain, so to speak, do you want to purify your air?
FLAAR has never allowed solvent printers into our printshop. The university put in a CO2 laser engraver that emitted noxious fumes when it was cutting Plexiglas and certain other plastics. We filed complaint after complaint and finally they jerry-rigged an exhaust system. Unfortunately it exhausted only about half and this half went around the outside of the building until it reached an air intake. At this point the extracted fumes were sucked back into the building, except now these poisonous fumes were distributed to everyone in the upper floors as well. Two years later the building was torn down.
But before the noxious air problem with one CO2 laser engraver was resolved, we found another brand of CO2 laser engraver, Trotec, that had its own integrated air purification system. This worked marvelously, but unfortunately the Trotec that was loaned for evaluation was out of kilter because of being moved around to so many trade shows, and we returned it to the distributor. But we learned that an on-board unit can indeed work impressively if it has the opportunity to really get a hold of all the bad fumes to begin with. We hope to find a new CO2 laser cutter from Universal and test this in the future; the new Universal CO2 laser systems now have on-board purification systems.
The problem with most solvent printers is that they are not designed for air purification or air extraction. Even the printers that have ducts built into them, such as Mutoh Spitfire Extreme and other related printers such as the Mutoh Rockhopper Extreme, those air purification units can only purify the air they can get access to.
A diagram on one web site (not that of PAT) shows a filter unit with a simple attachment to the back of the printer (basic 64” solvent printer). So, it is extracting from the back. What about all the VOCs and solvents evaporating off the front? What about all the noxious fumes rising from the printed image that are rolling onto the floor.
And when the image is placed on the cutting table, the entire surface is still outgassing: right into the face of your printshop operators.
Once the finished printed image is rewound onto the front core, or if the print winds itself onto the floor (when the auto-rewind system is not used, which is the case in 90% of onesies-twosies), then that vinyl will outgas for days. Wherever that image is moved it will continue to outgas.
FLAAR was offered two different solvent-based printers to evaluate: one mild-solvent and one full-solvent (both 64” models). I was very interested because thousands of printshop owners come to FLAAR to ask for our help in deciding which solvent, mild-solvent, lite-solvent, eco-solvent, or bio-solvent printer to purchase. But our building at the university was not really well equipped for air purification because anything we vented outside was caught by an exterior air-intake system and sucked right back into the building. Actually the university finally simply tore the whole building down (by then we moved to another building, ironically a former screenprinting shop!). The odor here was so vile we finally moved out all together (the new FLAAR office is in St Louis).
But if I did have a solvent printer (of any flavor, full to eco, and even bio), I would want a fume extractor physically built onto the printer (such as that of PAT Technology and I would prefer that the printer was designed for this integration from the beginning. Second, I would want a room air purification unit also. The room units that I know best are those of Island Clean Air. I have visited their headquarters and factory in Vancouver, have met their owner and managers, and know their major distributor in Florida.
There are several companies that make charcoal-based air-purifiers for solvent printers. But of these, the only company that exhibits at ISA and/or SGIA on a regular basis, plus at major international trade shows, is Island Clean Air (ICA) Duster systems (which also exhibits at Graphics of the Americas in Miami and sometimes at Graph Expo in Chicago). I see Island Clean Air managers, year after year, all over the world.
I have met PAT Technologies management at one or two shows in the US; at one show several years ago their air purifiers were featured in at least the Mimaki and one other booth: possibly Mutoh. But then I did not see them as often. I have not had a visit to their headquarters, nor do I yet know their factory. When I do site visit case studies, I tend to see Island Clean Air, though possibly there were PAT purifiers built into machines that I did not notice.
A new trend: cleaning the air in medical facilities
PAT also offers their PAT-506id for cleaning the air in hospitals and other medical facilities.
Wide Format Printers