A new theoretical model for estimating the entrained air film thickness between a web and roller is presented for both impermeable and permeable webs. A simple closed-form formula for estimating the air film thickness, which considers the effects of air leakage from the web edges and air diffusion due to the permeability of web, was obtained based on a large number of simultaneous numerical solutions of the compressible Reynolds equation and the web equilibrium equation. The variation of air film thickness with roller velocity is measured for three typical webs: PET (polyethylene terephthalate), coated paper, and newsprint. The effects of web permeability, web width and web tension on the air film thickness are examined theoretically and experimentally for a wide range of roller velocity. Reasonable agreement is seen both quantatively and qualitatively between the predicted and measured results. The validity of the formula for the first order estimation of web-roller interface problems is verified experimentally.

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