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What's the Outlook for Your Film Market?

By: James Callari 28. April 2015

Already, the polyethylene film extrusion market is the largest in North American in terms of resin consumption. The promise of less costly feedstocks derived from shale gas hold potential to make this business grow even further. What’s more, looming in many PE film markets is the possibility of entry by processors currently outside North America looking to tap into more readily available and (relatively speaking) less expensive resin.

 

But as every extrusion processor realizes, the overall PE film market is in reality made up of series of slices: stretch film, shrink film, industrial can liners, consumer trash bags, T-shirt bags, food packaging film…to name a few. For many film processors, one of those markets—or a combination of a couple—is their business.

 

Wouldn’t you like a crystal ball to see what the prospects are for growth over the next three years in the precise market(s) you serve? Wouldn’t it be helpful to learn if you might want to consider shifting your production resources from one market to another?

In the absence of crystal balls and Magic 8 balls, working with consulting company Mastio and Co., St. Joseph, Mo., next week we will start a series of blogs that will closely examine a handful of these specific film markets so that you will get a closer look of the lay of the land to help you determine your next steps.

The topics we’ll blog about include:

  • Stretch Film
  • Shrink Film
  • T-Shirt Bags
  • Institutional Trash Bags
  • Consumer Trash Bags
  • Sheet and Tubing
  • Frozen Food Packaging
  • Cheese Packaging
  • Medical Film Packaging

 

For each of these fill segments we will delve into market size, product specifications, competition from other types of materials, major players in the field, growth projections and more.

 

Next week, we’ll start this series with stretch film.

The Clock Is Ticking: It’s Time to Register for Molding ’15

By: James Callari 10. April 2015
 
 
It’s the premier conference for injection molding in the world. And it has been since Amos Golovoy started it 25 years ago. The it to which I am referring is the annual Molding Conference. It’s now owned by Gardner Business Media, the parent of this magazine and sister publication MoldMaking Technology, along with a half dozen other manufacturing-centric publications.
 
 
If you haven’t registered for Molding 2015, I urge you to do so. It’s the “can’t miss” technical program on injection molding year in and year out. Click here and you’ll see the agenda laid out in its entirety. This is a conference by, for, and about injection molders, as several processors are among the members of the organizing committee (as are Amos and Matt Naitove, my colleague and executive editor of Plastics Technology). Molding 2015 is being held June 16-18, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.
 
 
Are you interested in medical and LSR molding? What about emerging technologies in molding, like, for instance, additive manufacturing? We’ve got it covered. These days, with shoot-and-ship a thing of the past, many molders are looking to add more and more services to their portfolio, which is why there is a session on value-added molding. And there’s a track on the business of molding as well. Are you up to date on the R&D tax credit? Are you interested in what other molders are doing to attract young talent? You’ll find out all the details about these and other matters at this event.
 
 
Over the course of three days, more than 25 presentations and panel discussions will help get you prepared from both a technology and business standpoint to solve the molding problems of today and take advantage of the opportunities presented tomorrow, next year, and beyond.
 
Learn more and register here.
 
And while you’re at the conference, try hard to make some time to also attend the neighboring Amerimold exhibit hall. If your molding operation is supported by a toolroom, you can check out equipment and services used in all aspects of mold manufacturing and maintenance. These include machine tools, cutting tools, CAD/CAM, mold materials, mold-repair products and mold components like hot runners.
 
 
Amerimold, which is presented by MoldMaking Technology, Plastics Technology, and Modern Machine Shop magazines,  also has its own technical, focusing on process innovations and best practices for designing, building, and maintaining molds.  
 
 
I hope you can make our co-located events in Chicago. I think there are more reasons than ever to go, and I trust you’ll be glad you did.
 

Extrusion Conference 2015: Call for Papers

By: James Callari 8. April 2015

 

 

Plastics Technology is bringing the world of extrusion together in one place, at one time, at The Extrusion 2015 Conference. During this unique two-day event, business owners, plant managers, process engineers and manufacturing personnel will be brought up to speed on technology developments impacting all types of extrusion operations. The event will take place Nov. 2-3 at the Omni Charlotte Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.

 

Each day will consist of morning presentations of interest to extrusion processors in general. These will include, but are not limited to, presentations on issues such as screw design; new materials and additives; high-speed extrusion; energy efficiency; changeovers; purging; controls; foaming; and important auxiliary equipment such as conveying, blending, filtration and much more.

 

In the afternoon of each day there will be three concurrent sessions that drill down to the specific process: Film/Sheet; Pipe/Profile/Tubing; and Compounding.

 

To submit a topic for consideration, please click here.

 

 Sponsorship opportunities and tabletop exhibits are also available.

Twin-Screw Elements Offer Option to Kneading Blocks

By: James Callari 24. March 2015

 

Twin-screw compounding machine builder Steer introduced at NPE2015 a new series of screw elements that reportedly are suited to replace kneading blocks in certain applications.

 

Called Melt Formation Elements (MFEs), they will be used on Steer's Mega and Omega co-rotating twin-screw platforms to reportedly provide compounders with improved reliability, reduced wear and increased uniformity of melting and mixing.

 

Steers says the elements are designed to combat a series of problems faced by compounders of masterbatch, engineering plastics and difficult-to-process materials, notably: high wear; degradation during melting;  uncontrolled breakdown in the process and transmission section; and improper material flow causing pressure peaks, which in turn leads to shear peaks that create torque instability and re-agglomeration,

 

As Steer explains it, while conventional kneading blocks (right handed, left handed or neutral) are effective at dispersive mixing, they are too harsh for many applications. This is because they present a perpendicular face to the flow causing melt stagnation and large pressure and shear peaks during melting. 

 

Notes Dr. Babu Padmanabhan, Steer's managing director & chief knowledge officer, “The MFEs are designed to create turbulence to the melt flow without stagnation.  They can replace conventional kneading blocks that suffer from lack of shear uniformity completely removing any right angled face to the melt flow.”   

 

PTi To Jointly Commercialize Patented Layer-Flipping Technology

By: James Callari 23. March 2015

 

Processing Technologies International (PTi), Aurora, Ill., has announced that it is in the final stages of formalizing a commercial agreement with a leading global tooling manufacturer for the exclusive sourcing of its patented layer-flipping technology. This technology allows processors to quickly change the position of extrudates from two extruders in a coextruded structure needing to disassemble components and shut downs the line.

 

The final announcement on commercialization will follow upon completion of a formal agreement. ”Since this technology accompanies the sheet die and feed block, it is a natural fit to align ourselves with a global tooling entity,” states Dana Hanson, president of PTi. PTi debuted the product at K2013.

 

Changeovers in piston position due to hydraulic actuation of the piston cylinder and unique flow design are accomplished in a matter of seconds as opposed to conventional techniques which require some machine disassembly and could take up to several hours, according to Hanson. The diverter valve can be utilized on new or existing systems.  

 

“Since being awarded our original design patent in 2013, we’ve continued to develop this technology and have filed a second design patent just over a month ago,” said Hanson. “This real-time capability delivers major improvements in efficiency and productivity for processors of coextruded product.”

 

The diverter valve features a dual-piston valve which is moveable in a stationary body. The body has two entrances that feed from separate extruders. The first position of the valve allows the material to enter the piston valve and permits a straight through flow path. Normally, this would produce an A-B structure. When the alternated position two is selected, the materials are routed through crossover flow paths that changes extrudate positions. This produces a B-A structure.

 

During position changes, a unique flushing channel design keeps flow from stagnating for quick and efficient changeovers. The practical use for the diverter valve is its quick “real-time” purging of cap layers in a multilayer co-extrusion structure for sheet production, according to Hanson.

 

The diverter valve enables the processor to purge the cap layer extruder back into the inner layer of the structure while an alternate cap layer extruder runs a specific resin formulation (i.e., different color). Each cap layer (both inner and outer layers) can utilize this special valve to permit this real-time purging for rapid changeovers. This occurs without shutting down the line, thus permitting recovery of the purged resin directly back into the structure instead of losing the material onto the production floor and recovery through a grinder. 




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