A two-roll apparatus is used to explore experimentally the detailed fluid mechanics of\ud meniscus roll coating in which inlets are starved and flow rates are small. Both forward\ud and reverse modes of operation (with contra- and co-rotating rolls) are investigated\ud using optical sectioning combined with dye injection and particle imaging techniques.\ud That part of parameter space where meniscus coating occurs is identified by varying\ud the roll separation and roll speeds and hence flow rate and capillary number.\ud Key features of the flow structures identified in the forward mode include two large\ud eddies (each with saddle point, separatrix and sub-eddies), a primary fluid transfer\ud jet and the existence of two critical flow rates associated with the switching-on of\ud a second fluid transfer jet and the switching-off of the primary transfer jet followed\ud by a change in the flow structure. In the reverse mode, the key features are a single\ud large eddy consisting of two sub-eddies, a saddle point and separatrix, a primary\ud fluid transfer jet and once again two critical flow rates. These correspond to (i) the\ud switching-on of a secondary transfer jet and (ii) the disappearance of a saddle point\ud at the nip resulting in the merger of the primary and secondary transfer jets.\ud Measurements of film thickness and meniscus location made over a range of speed\ud ratios and capillary numbers are compared with theoretical predictions. A plate-roll\ud apparatus is used to confirm the presence, for very small flow rates, of a sub-ambient,\ud almost linear, pressure profile across the bead. Investigated also is the transition from\ud inlet-starved to fully flooded roll coating as flow rate is increased and the changes in\ud flow structure and pressure profile are observed
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