Kadant UK Celebrates a Silver Anniversary
2019 marks 25 years of fiber-reinforced composite doctor blade production at Kadant UK Limited. The Bury location has consistently been at the forefront of research and development in composites making innovative and revolutionary advances in doctor blade technology from the basic materials produced in the early 1990s, to the state of the art, aerospace-based fiber-reinforced polymer composites of today.
In 1907, Belgian Chemist Leo Baekeland discovered phenol formaldehyde resin, which was commercialized as Bakelite in 1909. Vickery and Bakelite began a partnership to develop the first synthetic doctor blades in 1931, involving the combination of Bakelite resin with cotton fiber fabrics.
As paper machine operating speeds increased and recycled fiber began to be used, papermakers needed stronger, stiffer, more aggressive cleaning blades to clean the new roll covers developed for new generation paper machines.
Newly available glass fiber quickly replaced cotton as the fiber-reinforcement of choice enabling the production of thinner, sharper, and more efficient cleaning blades. Delamination of layers was an issue, but it wasn’t long before low-temperature epoxy resins superseded the phenolics providing better bonded composite laminates.
Advances in epoxy resin technology dominated the next few decades as the temperature resistance capability of the “glue” improved from 120°C to 300°C. The next development arrived in the form of carbon fiber-reinforcement in the early 1990s.
In the early 2000s, Kadant UK introduced a range of highly successful enhanced resin composites which led to the unprecedented work of the patented nanotechnology range of composite blades.
These revolutionary products enable Kadant UK to provide uniquely cost-effective solutions for customers on notoriously difficult positions as both machine speeds and the use of recycled fiber increased accordingly.
The demand for tougher, longer lasting composite doctor blades to cope with the very hardest baked-on contaminants has resulted in the latest game-changing innovation – nForce™ doctor blades – a composite doctor blade that results from research and development from the past 87 years and employs several recent technological innovations.
The Kadant UK research and development team, led by Dr. Michael Draper and Dr. Ka Lun To, have many more new ideas up their sleeves and are working hard to provide customers around the world with better problem-solving solutions.