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The story of Cadillac Products Packaging is a 65-year-old tale that combines a steadfast commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction with a broad range of product offerings. This specialty blown film processor and converter (cadprod.com) is headquartered in Troy, Mich., has a blown film plant in Paris, Ill., and converts film in Dallas, Ga. It competes in markets as diverse as agricultural, food, and medical and has won awards for innovation from a broad-based group that includes customers, industry associations, suppliers, and even the U.S. government. Cadillac is ahead of the game in sustainable packaging, having produced what’s believed to be the first-ever commercial biodegradable bag for frozen fruits and vegetables.
In the midst of market conditions that forced belt-tightening and consolidation across the entire plastics processing market, Cadillac expanded both its plant and product offerings earlier this year with the installation of a nine-layer blown film line from Hosokawa Alpine American (halpine.com), Natick, Mass.
Cadillac expanded its 73,000-ft² plant by another 4000 ft² to accommodate the new line, which was delivered in January. Already equipped with one-, three-, and five-layer film capacity, the firm skipped right over the usual progression to seven layers when it leaped into nine-layer structures.
“Seven-layer structures are limiting in terms of where you can place your barrier layers,” explains Ayal Shahar, who heads up Cadillac’s R&D efforts. “Nine layers gives you more flexibility to manipulate your structure, to thin out expensive functional layers. Besides, there isn’t that much of a jump from seven to nine layers in terms of machinery costs. Our customers are looking for value and technology, and we have to provide it.”
The new capacity has allowed Cadillac to extend its product line and offer more structures that combine nylon and EVOH. It also has bolstered the company’s position in high-strength bags for form-fill-seal applications.
“The nine-layer process improves barrier performance, as well as the ability for the film to be converted,” Shahar elaborates. “An advantage of nine-layer film is its more uniform gauge than a five- or seven-layer line. Sealant layers can be thinner, which increases the likelihood of downgauging and cost reduction. These thinner nine layers can also improve certain other film properties more easily than is possible with fewer layers.”
The nine-layer line features nine 50-mm, 30:1 L/D extruders for maximum flexibility; a 475-mm version of Alpine’s patented X die; an auto-gauge air ring; and back-to-back winders that can operate in surface, surface/center, and gap modes. Cadillac winds roll diameters up to 40 in. on the line.
Perhaps the most interesting component of the line is Alpine’s “reverse”-design IBC system. Typical IBCs convey the cold inlet air through the die between the hot die and the warm exhaust air. In the reverse design, the path is switched so the warm exhaust air is between the hot die and the cold inlet air, effectively using the exhaust air to insulate between the hot die and cold inlet air. This results in a hotter die and colder air, which increases throughput and reduces the need for processing aid in the film resin, says Jay Ragusa, Alpine’s v.p. of engineering.