13 vanliga problem vid skärning av plastfilm - Problemlösning av vanliga skärningsproblem - Sollex blogg

13 common problems with cutting plastic film, and what you can do about them

Troubleshooting Common Cutting Problems

Blades are needed to convert film to desired dimensions. This text focuses on common problems and their solutions when cutting or slitting blown film. It will go through 13 common problems for flexible packaging manufacturers. It also describes the most common parameter adjustments operators can do to avoid problems and optimize production.

The main reasons for cutting problems are blunted or improperly sharpened knives. Sharper knives provide greater efficiency when cutting any material. Sharper knives produce a cleaner cut without tearing, resulting in greater efficiency, higher throughput and a better quality end product.

1. Interrupted slit

1. Interrupted slit - Troubleshooting Common Cutting Problems - Sollex blog

Interrupted slits are extremely important to avoid in the production of plastic film and foil. Interrupted cuts are usually caused by damaged blades or an incorrect cutting angle. Bottom knife runout or low lateral contact pressure can also be causes of interrupted slits. Professional blade sharpening is a repetitive process in which quantity and quality go hand in hand. More quantity usually leads to better quality. So buy and resharpen your blades in batches, and you're more likely to get more consistent quality.

2. Inferior cutting edge quality

2. Inferior cutting edge quality - Troubleshooting Cutting Problems - Sollex blog

Inferior cutting edge quality can be the result of either a poor quality blade or improper settings during the cutting process. A blunt or burred blade alternately a blade with poor grinding will result in inferior cutting edges. Other reasons can be offset knives, blade vibrations or wrong web guidance. Too high lateral contact pressure or wrong shear angle are also reasons for worsened cutting edges.

Therefore, if you notice a deterioration in the quality of the cutting edge, start by replacing the blades. If the quality of the cutting edge has improved, you can choose a blade with better characteristics (e.g. with a different coating or made of a different material). If blade vibration is the cause, try using a slightly thicker blade or knife. Changing the blade from 0.13mm to 0.20mm can significantly affect blade vibration, although in general you should try to use as thin a blade as possible. Vibrations can create the wrong cutting angle. Therefore, all blade vibration and equipment vibration should be avoided.

3. Short blade service - test other blades

A chart showing the differences in knife durability depending on the steel material it is made ofSteel is a relatively soft material that will not stand tough long-term abrasive wear. Bad steel gives bad durability where the edge will turn unsharp. Many factors influence abrasive wear and how blade material is removed. Fragments of the blade edge are separated generating small fractures in the blade edge. Similar to grinding the film grit will wear down the blade edge. The more abrasive additives in the film the faster the blade will be worn down.

Hard metal or ceramics is much harder than steel and can be used to protect the edge or make blades that withstand abrasive wear much better than steel. In a Sollex customer converting process with a film containing white chalk a normal razor blade lasted 20 minutes. The same blade with ceramic coating lasted 2 weeks. Dependent on design, materials and material to be cut it is possible to have blades and knives with high performance and long durability. 

Material changes give different abrasive wear on the blade. Different films wear the blade down in different ways. A laminated film with PP, PE, PET and additives such as Titan (TiN) wears down almost all blades. One Sollex customer had a problem with this film until he found 5V. A top performing hard metal long lasting slitter blade that endures abrasive wear. There is a correct blade for each purpose.

4. Short blade service - optimize your settings

Other reasons for short blade service can be too high lateral contact force or too large shear angle. Equipment vibrations can ruin the blade and be the root course for short blade service.

For top and bottom knives a too large knife overlap or out runned bottom knives will severely diminish the blade service life time. Likewise it is important that the axial feed of top knives to bottom are the same as the material web. Finally incorrect regrinded knives will also play games with the cutting quality and the knife life-time.

5. Dust formation

5. Dust formation - white film cut with an ordinary razor blade can produce dust - Sollex blog

High-performance industrial razor blades provide a cleaner cut of web materials compared to top and bottom blades. Cleaner cuts reduce the presence of dust particles between film layers, resulting in a high-quality end product. 

Razor blades provide the best cut quality in plastic film production. Dust is the most unpleasant production factor for film manufacturers. Even if you use a razor blade, you can get dust. Every film is special and needs to be cut with the optimal blade. For example, white film cut with an ordinary razor blade can produce dust, as demonstrated in this picture.

The picture shows a white film being cut at 250 m/min. But the same film cut with a Sollex-K blade (ceramic-coated blade) produces almost no dust and can run at 350 m/min. We have found that dust generation with razor blades is related to blade thickness, topography, and blade edge friction.

When using circular top and bottom knives, blunt top knives or improperly sharpened top knives are most likely the cause of dust formation. Parameters such as too much knife overlap or cutting angle should also be taken into consideration when getting rid of dust. Finally, unstable blade guidance is a common factor in dust formation during cutting. Make sure that the blade guides are fixed and sturdy so that no dust is generated.

6. Teared plastic film

6. Teared plastic film - Troubleshooting Common Cutting Problems - Sollex

It is a relatively common problem for film manufactures to tear film instead of cutting or slitting. Teared film gets useless, so avoiding tearing is imperative for the flexible packaging manufacturer. The material web line usually tears off at the point of intersection.

We find several reasons for tearing. For razor blades tearing appears when the topography of the blade edge affects the web. A blade optimized for slitting film with white chalk may tear a thin stretched film at high speed. Counter-wise, a blade made for thin stretched film may be useless for slitting film containing white additives.

For top and bottom knives, teared film occurs when there is a knife offset for the top and bottom knife which means they are wrongly adjusted for a tangential cut. An alternative is that the knife overlap is too large. Not strictly related to the slitting process but still a very common cause for tear is incorrect web guidance or that the exhaust waste strip needs to be adjusted.

7. No roll separation and material jam in front of slitting

7. No roll separation - Troubleshooting Common Cutting Problems - Sollex blogOne possible serious consequence of a material tear can be the lack of separation of the rolls. Basically, the web of material does not separate because the tear glues the web of material back together due to electrostatic attraction. 

Other reasons for the non-separation of the rolls could be that the listing tools are damaged or the web tension is too high. As always, in order to correctly separate rolls the web should be guided or supported at the point of intersection. Material jamming in front of the slitting zone and roll separation can be the result of too slow feed of the bottom blade.

8. Rough roll edge - Non straight edge - Annual growth rings

Annual growth rings are absolutely not acceptable - Troubleshooting Common Cutting Problems - Sollex blogAnother consequence of the tearing could be an uneven roll edge. Winding layer after layer of rough roll edge looks like absurd annual rings from a cut tree rather than a desired CD-disc. Again, blade edge friction and material type play an important role. Therefore, it is critical to have the right blades for the specific application. Annual rings can also be due to the fact that the material tension is inconsistent or that the shaft is loose. Or both.

A rough edge of the roll, a non-straight edge, or the more common name for annual growth rings create electrostatic stress between rolls of film. Placed together on the pallet, these tensions can act like glue, making it impossible for your customer to separate the rolls. As a result, your customer may complain about the quality or find the shipment useless.

8. Finished rolls of thin stretch film should look like a CD without Annual growth rings - Sollex blog

8. Annual growth rings defect - Ex 1 - Sollex blog Example of completely defective plastic film on a spool - Sollex blog

9. Non straight section line and Filament building / "Angel hair”

9. Non straight section line and Filament building / "Angel hair” when slitting plastic film - Sollex blog

Non-straight section lines can occur when using the top and bottom knives. Non-straight section lines are usually the result of loose knives or runout of the bottom blade. Make sure the cutting equipment is properly fixed and the bottom knives are resharpened or new.

"Angel hairs" is a clear sign that the cutting process is not working properly. Look for vibrations and monitor the operation of the top and bottom knives. It may be time to replace or regrind. If this happens often, you may want to consider a different blade design to make it work.

10. Edge build-up during winding

10. Edge buildup during winding due to the use of unsuitable machine knives - Sollex BlogThe best industrial razor blades produce clean cuts. The opposite is done by the corrugations on the cut edge of the material. When the web is winded, the corrugations on the corrugations give a raised roll edge. Edge-built up films are often considered unusable as they possess large difficulties to unwind.

If you are experiencing edge-build up when using top and bottom knives it might make sense to try using razor blades instead. Since the top and bottom blades work at high cutting speeds, they produce poor quality cuts. The cut with a razor blade will be cleaner.

If razor blades create buildup of edges on the web of material, it is recommended that you first check the direction of the web and make sure that the foil is slightly stretched against the cutting blade. Also, make sure that there is constant material tension and that the shafts are fixed. After checking the settings of the slitting process, the next step is to test the blades of different thicknesses. A general recommendation is to try thinner and thicker blades to look for improvements or deteriorations. For example, if you are using a 0.20mm razor blade, test how a 0.13mm or 0.30mm blade will affect your cutting and edge build-up. So, for thin stretch film at high speed, check 2-013-Z, 2-020-Z or 2-030-Z. For film containing white additives such as chalk, try 2-013-K, 2-020-K or 2-030-K. Check which solution gives the lowest edge buildup - iterate from there.

11. Blade edge shows burrs and dents

11. Some possible burrs of knife edges after grinding - Sollex Blog

Burr and dents are the worst proof for insufficient blade quality. Burrs and dents show that the blade manufacturing process is malfunctioning. Alternatively, the batch is useless. Burr is blade material (most likely steel but can be ceramics or hard metal) that has not been removed by the last and finest grinding of the blade. Dents are small jacks in the blade that implies that the blade has been damaged. With burrs and dents on the blade edge it's time to change blades.

There is a very effective way to check blades for burrs and dents. Take two blades and slowly slide them edge to edge. You will feel burrs and dents directly. An alternative is to use light on the edge to see spatial differences.

11 - Blade edge shows burrs and dents - Example 1 - SEM image11 - Blade edge shows burrs and dents - Example 2 - SEM image

11. Blade edge shows dents - Common problems with cutting plastic film, and what you can do about them

12. Inferior regrinding quality - Chips on the cutting edge after grinding

12. Inferior regrinding quality - Chips on the cutting edge after grinding - Sollex

Blunt slitting tools can cause the material web to penetrate between top- and bottom knife. Regrinding is therefore a serious and professional craftsmanship.  For high-performance circular knives, you need a really good regrind and someone you trust. The optimal way is to let your original manufacturer regrind. Then you will have the most similar re-grinding as the original knife. When regrinding you will get new angels or shorter diameters. So blade design and performance will change. Wrong or bad grinding / regrinding can result in too low lateral control pressure. In addition improper regrinding can result in chips, dents and burrs on the cutting edge.

13. Wrong handling, packaging, and storage of knives and blades

Bad handling of sharp knives is probably just as tough on blades as when they are worn out. Therefore packaging and storage are extremely important for long blade durability. Depending on the design, size and quantity, there are many different packaging options for knives and blades.

With proper handling and packaging blades can be stored for a very long time. In general, the edge needs to be protected from bumps and outside force.

13. Wrong handling, packaging, and storage of knives and blades - Sollex Blog

A good blade packaging should:

  • Protect the user when removing a blade
  • Protect the blade from being damaged
  • Protect the blade from rust

All the steel will rust. Stainless steel is just stainless meaning that it will eventually rust. To protect a blade from rust it needs to be oiled. Step two is to wrap it in protective paper. As a third measure, a vacuum can be used to keep oxygen off the steel. Cardboard is a preferred material for second packaging as cardboard absorbs moisture. Finally, a wooden outer box provides protection for the inside.

13. Wrong handling, packaging, and storage of knives and blades- Protect blades from rust - Sollex blog

Sollex blade recommendation for high speed blown film machines

Sollex has a Large Variety of Different Industrial Blades for Blown Film Extrusion, Flexographic Printing, and Converting - Sollex blogSollex is your industrial blade manufacturer and supplier. We are based in Sweden, Europe and work solely with knives and blades. We have a wide product range with different industrial razor blades such as slitter blades, straight three hole blades, round 3 hole slitter bladesinjector blades, industrial double edge razor blades. In addition we keep a lot of machines knives in stock.

Try Sollex Zero Friction blades: Type Z for stretched thin films without additives. For film with additives, such as white pigments, try Type K blades. A basic TiN coating blade type T can be used in a wide selection of applications. 

PP with additives (for instance such as calcium carbonate which makes it similar to rubber) is really tough on the blade. Cutting such film requires extreme performance and durability. Sollex V quality such as 5V can work in cut extreme cases. Normal PP without additives should work with Sollex K and Z blades. C blades stay sharper even longer as they are self grinding. But the C quality  also bit fragile. Sollex X quality works if something between V and K is needed.

Read our guide about product qualities & coatings here https://www.sollex.se/en/page/...

Our industrial-type razor blades are made of high quality stainless steel with different coatings on the edge or side of the blades. Sollex blades are available in solid tungsten carbide or ceramics. If you do not find the razor blade you are looking for, Sollex are able to manufacture industrial razor blades according to your drawing. 

Contact Sollex and we'll be happy to help you with samples so you can test them on your production line. Feel free to contact us at +4635-15 75-00 or at info@sollex.se if you have any questions regarding our industrial razor blades.


About the author Johan Falk is an expert on knives and blades and the CEO of Sollex. You can contact him directly on: 0046 708 744 786 or johan@sollex.se. For general sales questions drop an email to order@sollex.se or call us on 0046 35 15 75 00



1. Wikipedia

2. Dienes https://www.dienes.de/en/, Accessed the 2 January 2023

3. Fortis https://www.fortisblades.com/, Accessed the 2 January 2023

4. ROBERT HARRISON, WITTMANN INC., Eliminate Dust, Fines and Longs For Better Regrind Quality, https://www.ptonline.com/articles/eliminate-dust-fines-and-longs-for-better-regrind-quality, Accessed the 2 January 2023

5. What is a burr? https://scienceofsharp.com/2015/01/13/what-is-a-burr-part-2/, Accessed the 2 January 2023

6. Source (for all SEM pictures here) from the scienceofsharp web page https://scienceofsharp.com/, Accessed the 2 January 2023

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