Georg Ickinger is out of the old school of inventors, the ones that make their life purpose solving problems that arise in everyday life, whether it be at home, work, or .... even on the ski slopes...
One of Ickinger's latest inventions, the Twin Helix Design, is pioneering technology in the making of Yankee cylinders for the paper industry which could save manufacturers up to 70% in the production of them. He claims that all Yankee manufacturers are looking for the Holy Grail to solve the problems of higher pressure, more wall thickness, less heat, but at the moment there is deadlock.
An Austrian based in Graz, Ickinger studied music at the Vienna Conservatorium as well as engineering at the technical university in Vienna and has around 100 registered patents to his name, the first one being a children's handle for a ski lift. Ickinger likens inventing to the art of song writing: "You have a melody in your ear. If it comes again you listen more carefully. You go through the songs you know. You ask musicians around you if they have heard it. You try out some chords, test it out on an audience, if they like it, you have a song. It is the same with patents".
PPI: You studied at Vienna Conservatorium as well as mechanics at the Technical University in Vienna? Do the two subjects sit nicely together?
Ickinger:Music and mechanics follow very strict rules. For both you need inspiration and good knowledge of the state of the art. And it is also a method of excluding. This means you clear your list of songs/possibilities by throwing away most of it. But at a later stage look at the list again.
So how likely are you to find a hit in pulp and paper industry? Or to put it in the words ofPPI, a "breakthrough technology"?
The famous Mr. Artur Fischer, has registered more than 1000 applications, and he says: "one of seven patents will be a hit, one of seven fully checked documents becomes a patent and one of seven ideas comes to the final document check. That means, you have to have at least 350 songs/ideas...
What was your first patent?
It was a handle for a ski lift for children. People who saw the invention said: "this is great. Apply for a patent. I spent several full days at the patent office. Ask for documents. Waiting one hour, reading, asking for another document, waiting - following up, waiting... Today this is a matter only of minutes. Of course it needs some practice. First to find the classification and the right wording you are looking for.
What does it feel like when you have hit on something that is really "state of the art"
Really great. It is a nice feeling when you are told that the idea is not that strange. I get through the cited documents (list of previous applications). And it is a learning process. And go on hunting for the great innovation. Adventures take place in your mind (André Heller).
We understand your name is associated with pulp and paper industry suppliers, companies like Mannesmann, Demag, Sulzer, Andritz, Waagner Biro? Can you explain what work you have done with these companies?
I worked for these companies who were looking for improvement. This is where we learned how to use the state of art check. And at the end of the process we said - let us have the final check. Let us get it checked by the patent office. Sometimes the sales people came to the design office: "Look at these competitors patents - we need to find a better solution"
So what exactly are the benefits of patents?
You have the right of priority for one year. But don't feel safe. Others could have applied for something similar. There is an 18 month publication due time. After that you can be sure, there will be no fight. I try to find a customer within these periods. Finally this brings you to best strategy in this field: be ahead of the competitors, at least for one year.
How did you come to work on the innovation for the Yankee?
I worked on a summary of my innovation and found an article inPPIwith the headline: "Andritz delivers the world record sized Yankee to Poels". I checked, if there was a follow up of the Andritz patent A390.975B1.
MFA (Maschinenfabrik Andritz the former name of Andritz) had great experience in making conduct rollers for the galvanizing plant of Ruthner by heat pressure seat of the alloyed steel sleeve on the body.
We used this knowhow for making the test drying cylinder.
Those involved in this part of the industry are aware of the deadlock concerning the Yankee cylinders: higher pressure, more wall thickness, less heat. So was this one of your musical moments, realizing there was an answer with a breakthrough technology?
All of the Yankee producers in the industry are looking for a solution to these problems. Take a look at the patents search in Figure 2.
It really is "finding a solution to the impossible." that drives me. And is the feeling, that we have been so close to the solution. Even the measurements on site were better than the calculation.
Can you tell us more about your method of calculating measurements with a handheld computer, a HP45?
It was so time consuming to wait for the computing time of the company system. So I tried to find a way of doing it myself. At the time I wrote my theses2fortunately my doctor father University Professor Kurt Desoyer also was a fan of the HP handheld computer. All my calculations were made on this system. For the heat transfer you have to build the Finite Element arrangement. And each field has to have the sum = zero for the incoming and outgoing heat. Today it is much easier. You take Excel, put the formula into the fields and press:
Options; Formula, Iterative Calculation. The system will find within seconds the solution for each field to fit by iteration. Each field temperature (number of unknown) is matter of the equation system.
While searching for a better solution you can easily change the fields and test all the possible situations.
Now days companies like Ninsight have developed good systems (http://www.ninsight.at).
It seems that the different systems come to the same result. What about field conditions?
All these systems have to reduce the influence factors, otherwise it‘s too complicated. The point is, which factors you can neglect? We spent more than two months of simulating all possible conditions. If you look at the results (even at the test drying cylinder 1987) there is a great compliance between theory and praxis. That is the only way to convince customer/manufacturer for a breakthrough innovation. On the other hand papermakers face more unwanted problems with the Yankee temperature.
This is not an excuse for the Twin Helix Design. The same will happen at the mill side. Doctor blade problems, side overheating, even the measurement system is not perfect these days.
Do you find that the paper industry in general is quite conservative when it comes to breakthrough ideas?
In respect of this industry, in the field of operating manufacturing, I do know several experts know better. I have learned that there is always a point to improve. At the first it makes it more complicated. Go inside the praxis. Bluntly saying this meaning "paper mill people are conservative" has always been said by the manufacturer. This is one of the oldest fields of human evolution. Making paper people follow the philosophy: "Never change the winning system." One day it works the other day it does not.
What is the situation for your Twin Helix Design on the market?
At the moment there is deadlock. There is no cooperation with manufacturers without customer. There is no possibility for customers without manufacturers. A prominent business strategy company in Vienna has offered a meeting bringing together the two groups. I am confident to find entrepreneurs on both sides. Like MFA did it together with Mayr-Melnhof 1987. It is a long term Breakthrough Innovation. To start with drying cylinders, groups of drying cylinders and if this is successful take the step to the Yankee. Might be we find a Yankee to be scrapped. Build on top the heat transfer elements.
So we understand you have made five applications for patents. Why was this?
Within my acquisition tour to the great Yankee manufacturers I learned that the customer's great problem was the surface of the steel Yankee. Customers still preferred the cast Yankee. Better heat transfer, better doctor blades behavior, and easier maintenance. I found out that the thermal coating is like insulation. Due to the porous structure the heat transfer rate of the coating was a quarter of the steel rate. I often heard that "There is no need for more heat". In some cases it is not true. How can it be a disadvantage that the coating has a bad heat transfer? And the dead end of the pressurized vessel strategy is the higher the temperature the higher the wall thickness. Together with the : roll-bonded clad plate of voestalpine Grobblech I could offer a solution by the Twin Helix Thin Wall Yankee. You can choose between more than 20 suitable plating's. Martensit seems to be the best.
voestalpine sent some probes to paper machine supplier for testing the doctor blade behaviour. The result is still pending. Answering your question: Why five applications? During my acquisition I had to secure the ideas while disclosing the innovation to the customer. Fortunately further ideas have come.
What is the reason, that the paper machine manufacturers haven't used hot plated steel yet?
I tried to answer this question myself. The chemical industry orders millions of tons of chemical resistant hot plated steel for their aggregates and using it successfully. Why is there not one order for the pulp and paper machine industry for the hot plated steel? There are two reasons:
If you see the big carousel machining centers the Yankee body is produced and see the nearly 90mm rough steel sleeve being milled and contoured. Tons of chips lying around and then only 45mm are left: how to pay for this expansive material? The machinists of the four roll bending machines, are trying to get the sleeve contour as close as possible to a circle. They are real artists in their work. They have to get the circle, the diameter and the sleeve being parallel to the axis correctly.
Any difference in thickness of the alloyed part of the hot plated steel will result a different heat transfer.
It is not easy to understand the manufacturing process of the Thin Wall Yankee? How does it work?
There are two ways of manufacturing: Making "From Inside Out" and "From Outside In".
"From Inside Out": Take a Yankee you want to improve. Put on the Heat Transfer Elements around the old shell. Surround it with the sleeve. Take tension belts around; press as much as you can. Prepare the welding seam and weld it. (If you take the hot plated sheet sleeve - there are two different welding to be done.) The contour will fit for grinding without machining. The heat transfer and rigidity improves by resin filler.
"From Outside In": Like to build a yacht body. The first hot plated steel Thin Wall sleeve is pressed to the mold by cushions. Vacuum suction presses the sleeve into the contour (even the shape) of the mold. Prepare the seam. Weld the mild part from inside (the hardened part later from outside). Than you let the robotics operates the Twin Helix Structure welding. This takes about two weeks using a laser hybrid.
There are some more tricks to be done.... The contour will fit for grinding without machining.
The Thin Wall Yankee might scare some paper mill people. Shoe Press load, doctor blade. Can you tell us a bit more about how this all works?
My highlight experience was the machining of the Thick Wall Yankee. What an unstable structure. We made an Autocad designed geometry of the Twin Helix Yankee and compared the rigidity and stiffness.
The result, even for us, was very surprising: very rigid, high damping properties, easily carrying the loads.
Thin Wall Yankee, what is the thickness?
Two hearts beating in my breast. Minimum thickness is best for the better heat transfer. What is the need of the thickness referring to stability, regrinding and fatigue stress? voestalpine Grobblech can come down to 9mm roll-bonded clad plates. They deliver 3mm of Magnetite alloy and 6mm for the base material. So it can't be less. And it also depends on the design of the helix structure, what size of cavities.
You mentioned fatigue stress, what about the welding?
The Laser Hybrid welding unit of Fronius and the welding robots of Waltersdorfer brought the solution.welding robots ofISATby Gerhard Waltersdorfer. See also his homepage:http://www.isat.at
There are two ways of welding the Twin Helix Design:
Through welding from one side. This technology needs a 0,3mm slot (see Figure above).
Welding the fins from two sides. This technology needs a wide enough cavity.
As you see in the section, we have to prefer the right side of welding. Main issue is the radiation and ultrasonic testing of the welding. For both solutions it is possible.
What will be the benefit of the Twin Helix Design?
We calculate it up and down and take the conservative figures: it's a Breakthrough Technology.
What is the most impressive aspects for the paper producers? You can weld it at the mill site. No limits in design, larger drying surface.
What will be your next steps?
Depending very much on the reaction to articles like these in prominent magazines, I am also setting up meetings with paper mill and machine manufacturers together to explore the concepts. We also plan an auction at Ebay mid of November to sell the patent application rights. It might be, before that, there is an offer we cannot resist...
So in what other fields are you working at the moment?
Improvement of wind parks. Imagine: The classification of wind energy contains more than 100.000 documents. But never exclude the impossible. You have to dig for the better solution of the impossible.
1. After closing the foundry MFA had to shift to the steel drying cylinder. We also wanted to improve heat transfer. The problem to solve: how to design the cavities, which you get along the width equal heat transfer, even the medium loses pressure and temperature during the way through the cavities. Several shaped cavities have been calculated on the HP45 handheld computer.
2. Behavior of a vehicle, consisting out of a five mass system, moving on rough surface. TU Vienna 1984.
Georg Ickinger can be contacted at: email@example.com