ARL Filter Paper Folder

Analytical Research Laboratories Ltd (ARL) is New Zealand's leading soil, plant, feed, water and fertiliser analytical laboratory.

The test’s available through ARL provide information essential to measuring and managing the productivity and health of soil, crops and animals.

Each day they use thousands of filter papers in the course of processing samples, and these papers were being folded by hand. As their business grows, keeping up with the demand for folded filter paper is only going to get more difficult. ARL recognised that this presented an opportunity to automate the process, and relieve staff of a highly repetitive job.

ARL approached Intellitech with a brief detailing their needs; a filter paper folder that could be loaded with 5000 papers, and left running without supervision. The cycle time for each fold needed to be 9 seconds or less.

Intellitech Automation went through a thorough concept design stage, investigating alternative filter paper folding methods, such as a fluted fold design similar to a cupcake paper cup.  3D-printed components were used to test the viability of folding filter paper in each of the fold designs.  One concept stood out from the rest due to its simplicity and reliability folding papers to the current fold design.

The detailed design stage then began, with constant dialogue between ARL and Intellitech ensuring that the end result would be to their satisfaction.  To prove repeatability before committing ARL to the full cost of the build, the folding components of the machine were built and tested first. The machine is now installed at ARL and is already folding papers for production at a rate of less than eight seconds per folded paper.