Rail unit – high speed slitting and laminating system

The challenge

Popularity of the classical Polaroid instant film cameras has soared in the recent years. Its nostalgic instant printed photos still has strong appeal to many consumers. The instant film factory of Polaroid in Enschede is benefitting from this trend and has steadily been increasing its production on the classical Polaroid production lines up to millions of films per year. However, Polaroid was experiencing film production issues on the classic production lines, which are over 60 years old.


Instant films consist of a tapered foil called ‘rail’ that is cut in a strip using a die and simultaneously laminated on a photosensitive materials called negative and a positive. Material changes has led to sticking of the strip to the hot die resulting in downtime.

Polaroid asked Demcon to come up with modern, robust, retrofit solution for their production lines to increase the systems OEE.

The solution

The solution to the question was not evident, as changes to the current production process would be required to avoid the current issues.  The project was split in a specification & concept phase and engineering & realization phase. In the first phase, the requirements have been defined and a suitable production technique was selected. A proof-of-principle using a slitting knife was conducted to qualify the technology and determine the service life of the circular knife used. For the subsequent laminated function, hot metal blocks have been selected.

We decided to mount the slitting knife on a linear motor axis for ultimate speed and limited wear as the production rate is approx. 180 films/min.

After selection of all the technology blocks to perform the required function the complete machine could be put together. The system was further engineering in detail and realized in the second phase.

The machine was delivered to the client after extensive testing with a range of materials.