Web Handling Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. I have a web handling issue, how do I get started?
  2. What is a web?
  3. What is a roll?
  4. What is a roller?
  5. What is web manufacturing?
  6. What is web handling?
  7. What is web converting?
  8. Is web handling an art or a science?
  9. What is the history of web handling?
  10. How do I know if I have a web handling issue?


Answers to FAQ

How do I get started on solving my web handling issue?
Contact Dr. Kevin Cole at kevin.cole@optimation.us.

What is a web?
A web is a piece of flexible material which is much thinner than wide, and much narrower than long.

What is a roll?
A roll is a web wound onto a core.

What is a roller?
A roller is a cylindrical machine part used to convey webs through machines.

What is web manufacturing?
Web manufacturing is any process that first constructs a web.

What is web handling?
Web handling is any process that seeks to transport/handle a web while maintaining/preserving all of the web’s properties.

What is web converting?
Web converting is any process that takes one or more webs and permanently alters them in some fashion.

Is web handling an art or a science?
Web handling is primarily a science with a broad array of measurement and engineering based fundamentals that have been developed and applied to its study and understanding. Web manufacturing and converting tends to have more emphasis on empirical experience. This is a somewhat qualitative statement as there continues to be more first principles based capabilities being developed and applied to these areas.

What is the history of web handling?
Web handling has a long and colorful history which closely tracks the development of engineering science and the development of web handling equipment. As is often the case with any technology, the two have not always progressed together and in fact, while the engineering science tools predate web handling equipment, the application of the tools to web handling, to a very large degree, actually post date web handling processes and equipment. The earliest first principles tools arose in the development of solid mechanics (pioneered by the work of Leonhard Euler – mid 1700’s) and Newtonian mechanics (pioneered by Isaac Newton – late 1600’s). Web handling equipment has its roots during the Industrial Revolution (mid 1700’s to mid 1800’s). Application of first principles to web handling has achieved its greatest impetus due to the ongoing activities of the Web Handling Research Center at Oklahoma State University (mid 1980’s).

How do I know if I have a web handling issue?
The best way to determine if you have a web handling issue is to consider your answer to two questions. These will enable you to quickly determine if your problem is related to web handling.

  1. Does this problem deal with the web? When thinking about this question, do not be quick to discount what a web is. It turns out that a web can be just about anything that is thin, wide and long. The principles governing the behavior of a web are applicable to any web-based product including paper, film, metals, nonwovens or textiles.
  2. Is the problem you are experiencing related to the transport and handling of the web where the intention is to maintain or preserve the web’s properties? Here again, do not restrict your thinking too much. For example, the following would all be viewed as web handling processes: unwinding, splicing, roller conveyance, air conveyance, tension control, web spreading, lateral control, nip mechanics, roll start, roll winding and roll storage. In addition, the effects of web properties such as friction, roughness and mechanical properties are inter-related to web handling processes and, if improperly specified or controlled, would constitute a web handling issue.


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Kevin Cole, Ph.D.

Dr. Cole is a Senior Web Handling Development Engineer at Optimation Technology, Inc. with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester. He is a technical specialist and process development expert with broad and extensive experience in solving a wide variety of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics problems in advanced process development applications. Have a question for Dr. Cole? Click here to ask.