Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s a number of companies marketed numerous styles of web flagging devices. They were met with varying degrees of success and much greater degrees of disappointment. Most were notorious for not performing as promised. They were simply variations of label applicators. None of the web flagging devices at that time were design specifically to address the challenges that come with applying labels to moving webs-especially webs moving at high speeds.
Some of these machines attempted to dispense a label off the liner directly onto the moving web. Some tried to accelerate the label to match the web speed before applying. And others used air jets to blow a flag onto the web.
As a result of these shoehorned applications, maintenance shop “boneyards” started to fill up with web flagging machines sold, installed and subsequently removed the they failed to perform reliably. Like the famous line from the movie “Anchorman” sixty percent of the time, they worked every time. And the converters and printers one after another adopted the option that all WebFlaggers are doomed to fail.
This changed in 2002 when Alfonse Novelli founded Novation, Inc. It began with his effort to find a reliable web-flagging device to pair with his ScrapTracker system. ScrapTracker was Novation’s initial product. It was a roll mapping program which required a bar coded flag to be placed on webs moving at any process speed. The bar coded flag would have a unique ID number which would the correlate to a location within a roll, and a data point in the roll map created. However, Novelli soon realized that there were no machines available that were specifically designed for his application – and certainly none reliable enough to pair with ScrapTracker.
Necessity being the mother of invention. Novelli put his 25 plus years of converting machinery design experience to work to design his own machine. The result was the AF2 WebFlagger. The AF2 was designed for no other purpose than to apply pressure sensitive labels onto any type of web traveling at any process speed.
It accomplished this feat by first transferring the flag completely off of it’s carrier onto a vacuum applicator head. The applicator head then transferred the flag to the moving web by pressing the leading edge of the flag against the web where it is supported by a roller. “Nipping” an already dispensed label to a moving web in this fashion was a game changer. Novation’s AF2 WebFlagger was marketed at that time as “The First WebFlagger that Actually Works.”
Novelli realized the AF2 could meet the need for a reliable web flagging machine in the converting and printing world, with or without the ScrapTracker system, and Novation began to market the AF2 as a stand-alone WebFlagger. As they say, the rest is history. Since 2002, Novation has sold over 1,500 WebFlaggers which have marked over 50 million defects, etching their place in converting history as the market leader in web flagging.
In 2018 the battle-proven AF2 was retired and replaced by the much smaller and robust AF3 model. Its compact size allowed it to be mounted in tight locations previously inaccessible with the larger AF2 model. The AF3 has been enthusiastically received and now boasts hundreds of installations of its own.
Novation has built a reputation for excellent customer service, and thrives on problem-solving and innovating safety and efficiency in the converting and printing industries.
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