Aluminum Foil Manufacturing Process III-Rolling Foil


Rolling foil

After the aluminum foil stock is made, it must be reduced in thickness to make the foil. This is accomplished in a rolling mill, where the material is passed several times through metal rolls called work rolls. As the sheets (or webs) of aluminum pass through the rolls, they are squeezed thinner and extruded through the gap between the rolls. The work rolls are paired with heavier rolls called backup rolls, which apply pressure to help maintain the stability of the work rolls. This helps to hold the product dimensions within tolerances. The work and backup rolls rotate in opposite directions. Lubricants are added to facilitate the rolling process. During this rolling process, the aluminum occasionally must be annealed (heat-treated) to maintain its workability.

The reduction of the foil is controlled by adjusting the rpm of the rolls and the viscosity (the resistance to flow), quantity, and temperature of the rolling lubricants. The roll gap determines both the thickness and length of the foil leaving the mill. This gap can be adjusted by raising or lowering the upper work roll. Rolling produces two natural finishes on the foil, bright and matte. The bright finish is produced when the foil comes in contact with the work roll surfaces. To produce the matte finish, two sheets must be packed together and rolled simultaneously. When this is done, the sides that are touching each other end up with a matte finish. Other mechanical finishing methods, usually produced during converting operations, can be used to produce certain patterns.

As the foil sheets come through the rollers, they are trimmed and slit with circular or razor-like knives installed on the roll mill. Trimming refers to the edges of the foil, while slitting involves cutting the foil into several sheets. These steps are used to produce narrow coiled widths, to trim the edges of coated or laminated stock, and to produce rectangular pieces. For certain fabricating and converting operations, webs that have been broken during rolling must be joined back together, or spliced. Common types of splices for joining webs of plain foil or backed foil include ultrasonic, heat-sealing tape, pressure-sealing tape, and electric welded. The ultrasonic splice uses a solid-state weld—made with an ultrasonic transducer—in the overlapped metal.