Digital Magazine

Industry Supplier Q&A | Synrad Industrial Laser Solutions for the Converting Industry

Christine Pietryla Wetzler, editor of Converting Solutions interviewing Jesse Way, Senior Product Line Manager at Synrad

Since it got its start in 1984, Synrad has been a pioneer in developing sealed tube CO2 lasers for converting, electronics, industrial manufacturing, textiles, packaging, 3D printing and automotive applications. I recently sat down with Jesse Way, the senior product line manager at Synrad, to discuss how his company is preparing for future trends and some of the significant considerations converters need to know to get the most from laser solutions.

Q: How does Synrad help manufacturers meet new demands?

WAY: Synrad is a high-performance CO2 laser manufacturer with deep roots in industrial laser processing, particularly within the packaging segment. Our lasers are the gold standard among laser marking OEMs. We are a technology and market-driven company, passionate about developing solutions to solve our customer’s challenges. Key to this is forming a solid understanding of our customer’s applications and use cases through technical conversations and “voice of customer” interactions. From there, we can combine that information with our knowledge of CO2 lasers and laser processing techniques to suggest a solution that is both efficient and cost-effective.

From a practical standpoint, one of the largest benefits Synrad can offer customers is our application engineering services. CO2 laser processing is relatively new to the converting industry; we often work with OEMs who have limited experience with laser-based solutions. That’s where our Global Applications Labs comes into play. With locations in the US, Germany and China, our applications engineers work directly with customers to test materials and recommend optimal laser setup and process parameters based on target processing speeds and quality requirements—all free of charge.

Q: What are some of the advantages that your customers get from laser marking and coding?

WAY: That’s an excellent question. Regarding marking and coding specifically, when you use a laser to make a mark a package or product—first of all, it’s permanent. So, compared to some other material that can print or use ink to mark a surface, the laser creates a mark which is smear free, moisture proof and cannot be easily removed. The other advantage is that laser marking is fully digital. If you need to change the mark periodically or even from one package to the next, that’s all done in software.

Further, marking and coding systems that use Synrad CO2 lasers reduce operating costs. No consumables like ink are used in the marking and coding process, so associated costs are eliminated. Synrad laser systems are virtually maintenance free, lasting many years with little to no support. Synrad has a strong reputation for reliability, earned over 30 years of operation in some of the most challenging industrial environments.

Q: Can you talk about your laser solutions specific converters?

WAY: Yes, definitely. One of the critical benefits that Synrad offers—going back to the beginning—is our experience in industrial laser processing. We understand that reliability and uptime are critical to our customers, and in many cases, our lasers are installed on high-speed lines operating 24 hours per day. We have designed our products to perform consistently, over a wide range of operating conditions and over many years of operation.

The next benefit is our product portfolio. We have an extensive range of products ranging from 5-500 watts so depending on a converter’s process; we can offer a solution to meet a wide variety of needs from cutting to slitting, to perforating, to marking…sometimes all in the same setup!  Furthermore, we offer laser processing kits which include a laser source, a marking head for beam positioning and steering, and our Winmark software for controlling the system. The kits are designed for ease of use and can be up and operating from out of the box within hours.

Some of our more popular lasers for converting tend to be the high-powered lasers as they enable faster throughput speeds. Our i401 is a 500-watt laser which has seen great success in the in the converting industry. This is a very robust and reliable laser, and it’s targeted to high output operations.

Q: What is the most significant trend that has changed your business over the last five to 10 years?

WAY: I would say it is the digital printing revolution—digital printing has made customized packaging and short production runs more viable from an economic standpoint. The flexibility of digital printing really begins to open up many possibilities for brands looking to make their products stand out on the shelf. To facilitate this, they are starting to regionalize their packaging operations in smaller, more focused factories. These facilities are doing much smaller runs with customized packaging for the local markets. To fully realize the potential of digital printing for packaging, a digital converting solution is often the next logical step. A laser cut pattern can be instantly changed in software, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming tooling changes.

The digital converting trend began more than 10 years ago with some early adopters and specialized OEMs that were focused solely on laser converting. Within the last 3-5 years, we’ve seen more and more interest in laser converting and are now starting to work with some of the more prominent converting OEMs that have traditionally been focused on mechanical converting machine designs.

Q: What are some of the things you are doing to stay competitive?

WAY: We are a very market-focused and solutions-oriented company. We don’t just want to sell a laser; we want to sell solutions to help our customers do their job. We’re working with OEMs on some of these new processes that they are developing, but we’re also reaching further into the supply chain—both up and down—to understand the trends that are driving the packaging industry, so we can be well positioned to serve our customers. Additionally, working directly with our customers through our applications labs gives us great foresight into their manufacturing challenges. This direct engineer-to-engineer customer interface is a key part of our business.

Q: What has been a defining moment for your company this year?

WAY: This year we celebrated several great moments with our customers as they achieved their objectives for process improvement and operating cost reduction. It’s an exciting time at Synrad. Our guiding philosophy at Synrad is to make others successful, and we do that through a unique combination of our industrial experience, passion for innovation, and most importantly, listening to our customers.

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