MATERIALS: New Class of PE Film Resins Adds Fresh Downgauging Potential

New LLDPEs boast unmatched stiffness/toughness balance and processing ease. Better downgauging ahead.

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Last month, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, Midland, Mich., launched Innate Precision Packaging Resins, a new family of polyethylenes designed to address challenging performance gaps in flexible packaging—most notably, unmatched stiffness/toughness balance, processing ease, and improved sustainability. Dow sources say Innate resins represent a new category of ethylene-based copolymers that fit within the LLDPE range. They can be produced using various comonomers—octene, hexane, or butene. Their creation was enabled by a new patented, non-metallocene molecular catalyst coupled with a new advanced process technology that reportedly allows for accurate and consistent control of the resin chemistry for achieving specific film properties.

According to Nestor de Mattos, marketing director, Innate resins exhibit outstanding toughness without compromising stiffness, as well as excellent flex-crack resistance, allowing for greater lightweighting without compromising the integrity of the end-use product. Excellent tear and puncture resistance are also claimed. Innate resins can be used in multilayer packaging to help create new and improved film structures. Potential applications include flexible food packaging such as stand-up pouches, bags, and liquid packages; industrial stretch film for heavy-duty shipping sacks; and artificial turf.

Dow sources also emphasize the excellent processability of the new resins, allowing for large-diameter blown-film bubbles without blending. Innate resins exhibit high-melt strength for excellent bubble stability and greater shear thinning to enable reduced extruder amperage and melt temperature.

Initial grades will have densities of 0.915-0.930 g/cc. The first developmental grade is Innate XUS 59910.02, with a 0.918 density and melt index of 0.85 g/10 min. Properties of a 1-mil blown film of this resin include dart impact of 1645 g; tensile yield strength of 1800 psi (MD) and 1600 psi (CD); tensile strength at break of 5150 psi (MD) and 4130 psi (CD; elongation at break of 425% (MD) and 550% (CD); and, Elmendorf tear of 265 g (MD) and 532 g (CD).

According to deMattos, Dow has selected key partners for field testing, particularly companies that have been struggling with downgauging their products, and expects commercial use of the new resins within the next year. Although this novel family of resins will be priced at a premium, deMattos says, “We want to offer converters something that makes sense in terms of providing better performance while making it economically viable.”