- October 31, 2004, Edward Boyle Contributing Editor
The Brueckner Group, a German manufacturer of film stretching lines, film and sheet lines, and extrusion equipment, has a pilot lab most film converters would love to get their hands on. So, the company believes, why not let them?
“We have the only facility worldwide where everyone, not only our customers but also newcomers, can do tests on every matter of biaxially oriented film production,” notes Dr. Jürgen Breil, head of division — process technology and R&D. “Most of our customers are resin producers or film producers who test resins, blends, compounds, and new film structures. But often customers come with their own materials, blends, and compounds.”
Breil says the facility, housed in its nearly 70,000-sq-m facility in Siegsdorf/Bavaria, Germany, is used by film manufacturers to test new film types, such as multilayer high-barrier and low-sealing films, as well as specialty raw materials. It is reported to be the only pilot lab facility in the world with simultaneous stretching technology.
Breil says Brueckner uses the facility internally to test new equipment and machine concepts in order to “have the solutions before the customer has signaled the demand, [giving it] the means to secure its technological head start.”
Breil notes the company's current pilot facility is the latest in a series of labs operated at Brueckner since the early 1960s. The latest version houses two extruders (one twin-screw extruder and a single-screw extruder), and four coextruders (one twin screw, three single screw), an in-line coater, and a simultaneous stretching pilot line using advanced linear motor technology with stretching ratios between three and ten in both the MD and TD directions.
“It is a tradition at Brueckner to have a pilot facility. We understand — not as a machinery company only, but also as a technology partner — that we are able to deliver the necessary technology and process know-how for the efficient production of all kinds of oriented films,” notes Breil.
Although the company is an equipment manufacturer, a significant portion of its pilot lab is dedicated to conducting materials testing. Its Chemical and Film Laboratory is fully equipped for all mechanical, optical, and electrical tests, as well as chemical analysis. All kinds of properties such as tensile strength, haze, gloss, friction, and shrinking values can be tested immediately after the film is produced on the company's patented LISIM Technology stretching line.
With this technology, which incorporates linear motors like those used in high-speed levitation trains, it is possible to simulate every type of machine configuration, including supertensilization.
“Customers are using both the lab stretching equipment and the pilot line for the development of new film types,” says Breil. “Our customers are able to evaluate the relationships between resin types, process parameters, and final film properties.”
Breil says one of the main reasons for establishing the latest facility was to demonstrate the company's patented LISIM film stretching technology. He says the pilot facility is essential to support the sale of that innovation.
“Most of the orders for the LISIM technology could be achieved only by using the pilot line to demonstrate the capabilities,” says Breil. “It is also used as a platform to develop and test new equipment for all types of lines. For example, we continuously develop advanced pinning technology for PA and PET lines, because this is a bottleneck for achievable line speeds.”
Breil says the facility not only serves the company internally by allowing it to test new equipment and technologies economically, but it also acts as a convincing sales tool for attracting potential customers.
“Besides the fact that time- and cost-intensive modification work on customers' production lines can be avoided, many customers appreciate the well-trained Brueckner staff that provides full support in every matter,” says Breil. “It's been a very effective development tool that serves the customers' needs.”