Process issues such as blade deposits, scratches, spits, and defects on the coating surface develop during blade coating of paper at high solids content and fast machine speeds. Coatings that contain high aspect ratio pigments display these issues at lower solids concentrations and slower web speeds than spherical or block shaped pigments. The shape of the pigment particles influences the characteristics of the coating formulation after drying, and high aspect ratio pigments can lead to high gloss surfaces that have good printing properties and are of interest in barrier coatings. The rheology, particle packing, and water retention are all functions of the pigment shape and size distribution. The base sheet properties of porosity, surface roughness, and permeability interact with the coating and the blade coater operating conditions. The possible causes of poor runnability are part of an interrelated and complex system.
A cylindrical laboratory coater (CLC) was utilized to determine the speed at which operational and quality issues begin at varying solids concentration for two pigments with different shape factors on two different paper surfaces with varying absorption rates. An operational window was developed for both pigments. Characteristics of the pigment suspensions were explored in order to find a relationship with the onset of operational problems. The high shear rate viscosity of these suspensions did not explain the operational windows. The difference between the solids concentration and the immobilization solids, which is a function of the shape factor, has a linear relationship to the runnability limits. This could be ascribed to the tight packing structure of the particles as the solids content approaches the immobilization solids.
Application: This research looked at how the aspect ratio of the pigments in a coating impacts the operational limits when using a cylindrical laboratory coater. An analysis of these potential causes behind runnability issues was conducted.