The term web is used to describe thin materials which are manufactured and processed in a continuous, flexible strip form. Web materials cover a broad spectrum from extremely thin plastics to paper, textiles, metals, and composites.
Web processing pervades almost every industry today. It is web processing that allows us to mass produce a rich variety of products from materials that originate as a continuous strip of material. Products that involve web processing somewhere in their manufacture include aircraft, appliances, automobiles, bags, books, boxes, clothing, floor covering, furniture, newspapers, photographics, plastic sheeting, tapes of all types, video tape, and more. Web processes include calendering, casting, cleaning, coating, cooling, drying, dyeing, embossing, folding, heating, laminating, moisturizing, printing, sheeting, and slitting.
The widespread use of web processing arises not only from the ease and cost effectiveness of manufacturing and handling materials in continuous strip form instead of "sheets", but the need to do so in the automation of many manufacturing processes. Also, web processing is motivated by the need for increasing product quality.
Web handling involves the physical mechanics related to the running and control of continuous strip materials (webs) through processes and machines. A primary goal of web handling is to transport the material through processes and machines without incurring defects and losses.