Packaging Converter Launches Film-Extrusion Business
A firm with long-established roots in the converting industry—among other businesses—is branching out into blown film extrusion. Conversations with customers that started a year ago convinced Polymer Packaging Inc. (PPI) that consolidation in the film-extrusion business had created a need for fast, nimble, customer-centric suppliers of high-end films, and the firm has responded by launching a new entity, Polymer Film & Bag Inc. Both firms are based in Massillon, Ohio.
PPI was founded in 1986 by Larry L. Lanham, its current CEO. Since its inception, it has evolved from a brokerage firm buying and selling PE-based film into a company that offers a range of full-service manufacturing and converting operations. These include pouch making, protective packaging, and a patented process called Inno-Lok that applies a recloseable zipper to film webs for use on vertical form-fill-seal packaging machines. Major end markets served by PPI include food, industrial, medical and pharmaceutical.
Late last month, Polymer Film & Bag was scheduled to start up the first of two three-layer blown film lines from Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp. It is a W&H Optimex line, and it will be running coextruded film in layflat widths up to 71 in. By January 2020, the second line should be up and running. This will be a W&H Varex II line to produce three-layer film in layflats up to 87 in. This line will be equipped with W&H’s Turboclean technology, a system that is said to reduce the time it takes between full job and format changeovers from 30 min roughly 12 min.
Polymer Film & Bag is starting with two three-layer lines from Windmoeller & Hoelscher, one an Optimex and the other a Varex II (shown here) equipped with Turboclean quick-change technology.
The new lines will make bags on rolls, individual clean-cut flat bags, gusseted bags, converter-grade three-layer sealant sheeting, and stretch-hood and shrink films. Beyond this initial capacity over 20 million lb/yr, four additional lines are projected to be installed in 2020 and 2021, says Chris Thomazin, PPI president. “While our initial capacity is three-layer, we will let our success with the new lines dictate where we will go, from a technology standpoint, with the additional lines,” Thomazin added.
Thomazin says Polymer Film & Bag will make multi-layer films that are stronger than conventional film but also thinner, as a result of both resin technology and superior gauge profile, which significantly reduces the consumption of raw materials during production.
The new film and bag business is located in an existing 100,000 ft2 section of the Polymer Packaging plant that was previously used for warehousing, This first-phase extrusion section was set up and designed to house initially up to six lines with room to expand to 18 lines. Polymer Film & Bag will employ 20 people, some of whom are currently with PPI in other roles, while others with experience in blown film were hired from the outside.
“We’d visit customers and ask them, ‘Where are our opportunities for growth?” Often their answer was the same: ‘Get into film production.’”
While some film capacity will be used internally by its sister company PPI, Thomazin characterizes the firm’s expansion into blown film as “a true opportunity for growth, and not just vertical integration.” He elaborates, “The process for us started about a year ago. We’d visit customers and ask them, ‘Where are our opportunities for growth?’ Often their answer was the same: ‘Get into film production.’ The film extrusion industry has experienced a lot of consolidation over the years, and we felt that provided an opportunity for a fast, flexible company like us to get in with high-quality films produced on very sophisticated equipment.”
Adds Lanham, “In order to service the diverse needs of our customer base, we decided to install a very wide range of film and construction capabilities allowing future market needs to mandate what the expanded capabilities will be. W&H uniquely offered the best solution to accommodate this need today and into the future. We’ve invested in our future by expanding with the latest in equipment and material technology to provide engineered film solutions that offer source reduction, increased throughput and improved film performance.”
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