Plastics film processors, converters and users gathered in Düsseldorf on June 20–21, 2012 to listen to experts from materials and technology suppliers, as well as key customers, discuss the latest business and technology trends in the sector.
During the two-day Annual World Symposium on Performance Films (SPF 2012) organized by global information group IHS, they also had the opportunity to hear expert market analysis from IHS’s own experienced researchers.
SPF 2012 saw the introduction of a new technology developed in Switzerland for the production of high-strength, high-barrier films made from a liquid crystal polymer, using a novel extrusion die incorporating technologies from fiber and film production. The technology was described by Jan Giesbrecht, the CEO of a new company, Taenia Tec, spun off from the ETH research institute near Zurich.
In the same session on technical films, Tomasz Czarnecki, the technology manager at Belgian company EconCore, described a novel technology licensed by the company for making film-based honeycomb structures in an integrated in-inline process.
These two talks were complemented by presentations on formable polycarbonate films for functional displays, and ETFE fluoropolymer films for architectural and industrial applications, from Bayer MaterialScience (Dirk Pophusen, head of business development, functional films marketing) and Nowofol Kunststoffprodukte (chief executive Robert Hodann).
The technical film presentations were preceded by an analysis of supply and demand in high-performance film materials by IHS researcher Andrea Borruso; a discussion by fellow IHS researcher Mark Morgan on the growth of renewable materials in film production; and an overview of fluoropolymer films and applications by Sebastian Zehentmaier, an application and product development specialist at Dyneon, part of 3M.
Adhesion technologies for use in multilayer films were well covered during the conference, with presentations from LyondellBasell (technical and market development leader Maged Botros talking on new Plexar tie-layer technologies), from Dow Performance Plastics (Eva-Maria Kupsch, Performance Plastics TS&D covering application-specific routes to enable barrier packaging through effective interlayer adhesion), and from DuPont (research fellow Karlheinz Hausmann) described numerous high performance adhesive and peel polymers for food packaging, including easy-peel systems that can be resealed after the pack has been opened).
Andrea Colombo, in business development for styrene block copolymers at Styrolution, had an opportunity to present the new company, a joint venture between BASF and Ineos, and to describe the various ways SBCs can be used for polymer modification and compatibilizing. Styrenics also formed part of a talk by Martin DeBaets, sales and marketing manager at Sidaplax Speciality Films, which produces novel oriented polystyrene foils for packaging applications.
Sidaplax also makes oriented films in polylactic acid, PLA, the biodegradable polymer made by NatureWorks. Stefano Cavallo, business development manager at NatureWorks, complemented DeBaets’ presentation with an analysis of the performance challenges that PLA faces in the marketplace, and how they can be overcome through material modification and innovative film processing technologies.
Further film innovation was the subject of a talk on soluble films by Sumeet Kumar, senior manager in technical marketing at film maker MonoSol. This company has for some time been making soluble films in polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), for such applications as monodose sachets containing washing powders. More recently, it has been developing films, based on an unidentified polymer, intended for packaging foods. He demonstrated how a sachet of coffee dissolves almost instantaneously when hot water is poured over it.
Will such a technology find success in food packaging? That was the subject of a discussion between Kumar and fellow panelist David Maxwell, a senior technologist for global chocolate packaging R&D at Kraft Foods. The jury is still out.