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Monday, March 25, 2013

Sheffield Roughness

With the introduction of digital Sheffield testers in the late 1980’s, the Sheffield method maintained its prominence for certain grades, at least in the USA. There are many regions of the world where the Bendtsen test is used; however, the correlation between Bendtsen and Sheffield for these grades is excellent. There are many grades where the Sheffield method gives more uniform results than Bendtsen; those grades being the higher basis weight and stiffer grades, where the Bendtsen deadweight is not heavy enough to fully flatten the sheet under test.

Sheffield Measurement Head
The Sheffield test subjects the paper to loading pressures of 0.09 mPa at zero Sheffield units, and 0.154 mPa at 400 Sheffield units. The reason for the nonconstant loading is related to the design of the air system, and the “hovercraft effect” of the variable pressure between the measurement lands. A rougher surface causes higher airflow; therefore these instruments are designated as roughness testers.

Xerography Processes:
There are many reasons why the manufacturers of photocopy machines have target ranges for Sheffield roughness. A xerographic machine needs optimum paper surface properties for reliable sheet feeding, image transfer, and image fix. The fix level decreases as the Sheffield roughness increases, as it affects toner adhesion. Print density loss is observed as roughness increases. There also can be image problems with papers that are too smooth. Toner particles can be flattened and appear as larger dots, thus increasing the perception of the background. Rougher papers produce less background. With regards to paper handling, smoother papers are less stiff for a given basis weight. Smoother papers increase “electrostatic tacking” in the image transfer process. The coefficient of friction decreases with increasing roughness, a factor that is important in sheet transfer operations. The Sheffield roughness properties are carefully specified for the electrostatic copier printing process.

PROFILE/Plus Roughness Tester
Some of the other reasons for testing roughness are related to converting processes. The die-cut sheet feed in an envelope machine requires only one sheet at a time to be picked up and transferred, whereas multiple sheets will cause paper jams. The coefficient of friction between plies has a high correlation to Sheffield measurements.

There are some applications where metallized films are applied to the surface of paper. The reflectance properties of the film can expose wire marks on the base sheet. This is another example where the gentle loading force of Sheffield test better replicates end use properties of the paper, as compared to the PPS test.

Many plastic films are packaged in reams, like paper, for use in a photocopier to produce overhead projector transparencies. When the surfaces of the films are extremely smooth, there are static forces and cohesive forces that interfere with single sheet feeding. The manufacturers of such films generally create rough surfaces that enable an air film to exist between sheets. It is common to use Sheffield test results to control the process that generates the rough surface. Again, the PPS test would have measuring head loading that is excessive for this test.
When selecting a test instrument for paper, it is important to understand the relationship between the end-use of the product and the physical test parameters of the instrument. A further requirement is to use a test where process control settings on a paper machine (or plastic web processing equipment) can be modified to optimize the final product for its intended end use. The old adage was “If you can’t control it, why measure it?” In today’s marketplace, the customer will be able to find a supplier who makes the product he wants.

Learn more about Sheffield and PPS Roughness at the Technidyne Website