IHS Annual World Symposium on Performance Films tackled key business and technology issues

Solubility is a key feature of another PVOH-based polymer, G-Polymer from Nippon Gohsei. This polymer also has very high barrier properties, and in some cases could be preferable to another barrier resin, EVOH. Key features of G-Polymer were described by Takuya Sugimoto, director for global marketing and sales, Advanced Polymers.

Also in the session on barrier technologies was a talk by Sven Sängerlaub, in materials development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Technology & Packaging. He talked about how common salt can be incorporated into films to modify humidity in packages containing various types of food. He also introduced a new relatively low-cost permeation cell for testing the oxygen transmission rate in films.

A session on PVC in sheet and film involved presentations from a converter (Klöckner Pentaplast), a materials supplier (Vinnolit), and VinylPlus, the industry-supported group charged with a tackling the sustainability challenges for PVC and also in establishing a long-term framework for the on-going sustainable development of the PVC value chain. Stefan Eingärtner, general manager at VinylPlus, described how the PVC sector over the last 12 years has made important steps in developing programs to increase the sustainability of PVC in various areas, and in demonstrating its success to decision makers. Eingärtner said there are lessons to be learned for the plastics industry as a whole from how VinylPlus is successfully tacking these critical issues.

Günther Deiringer, technology director for specialities at Klöckner Pentaplast, showed how PVC is still an important material in a range of packaging and non-packaging applications. Peter Attenberger, technical service manager at Vinnolit, described how graft polymers and copolymers can be used as additives in PVC films, complementing plasticizers.

Additives for (mostly polyolefin-based) films were covered in several presentations. Stefano Pasquali, specialties marketing manager at LyondellBasell, described the use of products based on polybutene-1 in innovative performance films; PB-1 combines the typical characteristics of polyolefins with a unique property mix of high flexibility and outstanding creep resistance over a wide temperature range. High performance additives, mostly for agricultural and construction applications, were put under the spotlight by Wiebke Wunderlich, an application specialist in BASF’s technical center for specialty polymers. Jean Laus, additives product manager with A. Schulman Plastics, explained how functional additive masterbatches can enhance the performance of multilayer films.

The range of bio-based materials for films continues to increase. A senior scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, Jari Vartiainen reported on recent developments in films made from nanocellulose derived from trees. The films could be used in diverse technical applications as well as packaging – VTT has done some preliminary research into how the films could improve barrier properties of PLA films for example. Biodegradable blends for compostable bags and mulch film, meanwhile, were introduced by Hideharu Kimura, a senior researcher in Showa Denko’s Bionolle department. Bionolle is a family of biodegradable aliphatic polyesters.

SPF 2012 also featured two processing equipment talks. Peter Rieg, regional sales manager, packaging, at Battenfeld-Cincinnati Germany, introduced the company’s new “multi-touch” roll stack for high-speed extrusion. This roll stack has several low-diameter rolls positioned close together to ensure a high level of contact with the extruded material, improving cooling and surface finish. From Gneuss Kunststofftechnik, technical sales manager Andrew Prangnell described how the company’s MRS multi-screw extruder, as well as its range of screen changers, can provide efficiency improvements for film manufacturers. The MRS, for example, is ideal for processing recycled PET flake without pre-drying, and is also proving useful at reprocessing polypropylene.