“Industrial films” is the term usually given to those films that are employed, for example, as shrink film hoods, stretch films or as packaging for industrial goods; and to films sold by the film producer to industry as raw stock for converting… For the production of industrial films, polyolefins are mainly used and chiefly grades of PE. While monofilms are still widely used for certain products such as shrink film hoods – and this is unlikely to change – 3-layer film composites have become established among industrial films. By combining two or three different types of polymer, it is often possible to save on material while enhancing functionality at the same time. Particularly when it comes to the production of blown and cast films, it is the cost of the raw materials employed that are the key to the cost-effectiveness of the overall production line and thus to the profit made by the producer.
Plastics processors specializing in the production of industrial films operate their production lines around the clock. Product changeovers therefore tend to be rare. For such applications, many makers of machines today sell standardized 3-layer installations at attractive investment prices. The Troisdorf-based OEM Reifenhäuser GmbH has had an inexpensive 3-layer blown film line from its Chinese plant in Suzhou in its portfolio for several years now. Since autumn 2009, Windmöller & Hölscher KG (W&H) from Lengerich has also had in its product range a 3-layer line by the name of Optimex with which it hopes to appeal to manufacturers of standard products.
Consumer packages defy the crisis
Unlike companies in the industrial film value chain, who have been affected, though not seriously, by the crisis, manufacturers of consumer packages cannot complain. More and more products are being packaged in flexible and semi-rigid rather than rigid packages and a growing number in plastic rather than paper, cardboard or metal. This applies to both the non-food and the fast-growing food sector.
In the industrialized nations, the reasons for the increasing use of flexible food packages made of plastic are not only ecological and economic, but can also be found above all in changing consumer habits. There is constant growth in the consumption of ready-to-serve meals, a trend due not only to the growing number of single-person households, but also to more and more women working and a certain aversion to cooking. Convenience is the magic word. The consumer wants a healthy and balanced diet with minimum preparation effort – and without having to make a time commitment. New trends are also resulting from the fast-expanding range of foods. Irrespective of the season and local harvest, fresh vegetables, salads, and domestic and exotic fruits have become daily fare. Finally, there is a growing desire for an appealing exterior with a highly transparent, glossy or also colourfully printed package and an if possible distinctive shape. Obviously these changes are imposing growing demands on the package itself and hence on raw materials producers, machine makers and packaging material manufacturers and call for a maximum of flexibility.
More about this trends in the next trade fair K 2010 in Dusseldorf. 27 Oct – 3 nov