Processor sees color changes in less than 10 minutes.

Volm is a 58-year-old, family-owned business that got into the film packaging business as a result of its origin in selling groceries. Today, its core product, produced in Antigo, Wis., is colored film that is slit and knitted in-house to make mesh bags for produce or privacy screens. Volm hadn’t bought a new blown film line in decades. Until recently, the company had only monolayer capacity generated by three old extruders; it bought multi-layer film from other processors when the need arose.

Last month, however, the company ramped up a new three-layer line from Hosokawa Alpine American, Natick, Mass. The line will produce HDPE film at rates up to 650 lb/hr. The system includes three extruders—50, 75, and 50 mm—teamed with Alpine’s patented X-die and its new high-output air ring, called the V Ring.

According to Michael Hunter, a principal at Volm and the company’s v.p. of manufacturing and corporate operations, the 250-mm X-die has more than lived up to its billing. “We run three homogeneous layers of HDPE in our products, but we do mostly small runs of lots of different colors. That makes changeover times extremely important to us,” Hunter states. “When we first visited Alpine we had them do a color change from black to white. We put a stopwatch on it, and we were amazed by the short purge times. And now that we have the line in actual production, we are seeing color changes in less than 10 minutes.”