NPE 2015 Wrap-up

You could have walked this show quickly on Monday if you were looking for something specific in the flexible area only.  Monday seemed to be a slow day, and the bulk of the show was injection molding, blow molding, and overseas vendors.  But, there was so much to see at the show that, if you are like me who is interested in film, sheet, flat and round, single screw and twin screw extrusion, resin development and more, it was difficult to finish the show in less than four days.  Couple this with ANTEC and a lot of seminars put on by the resins suppliers, you easily could have spent seven days at the show.

For example, Krauss Maffei displayed an interesting horizontal cast sheet with multiple rolls, smaller than traditional calendar stacks, that promote heat transfer and thus more uniform physical properties, clarity, camber, etc.  Sheet from this calendar stack can be wound, sheeted, or oriented if desired, or go directly into a thermoformer. Nothing outrageous, just practical solid engineering, as shown in the photo below. 

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While there was a lot of excellent technology and engineering there, particularly out of Germany, I am proud to say that probably the best design and built extruder on the market anywhere in the world today comes out of Chicago-land by a company called Processing Technologies Inc., or PTI.  Every detail is thought out, and every precaution made, and quality built into every facet of the machine. For example, there is a linear bearing beneath the feed hopper that allows for thermal expansion of the barrel so that warping or buckling is prevented. Top quality sub-components are used, such as the Nordon Kreyenborg dual-cylinder, back-flushing, basket-type melt filtration system which is capable of filtering out gels.



There are many more features included in PTI machines that are nearly too numerous to list here, but I will try.  For example, calendar rolls are guided on linear bearings that are actuated and located with servo-motors; the roll-stack platform is single-unit which is holds alignment over the years; there are safety lock-outs that help insure that no one is crushed between rolls; the line includes an integrated die-splitting assembly making for easy die maintenance; and the haul-off stand has built-in expansion knockouts so that timely and expensive upgrades are avoided.  All-in-all, it was the most informative and interesting machinery interview I had at the NPE show.

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Simco-Ion had a small booth at NPE.  I wrote about their trio of web cleaning equipment last month.  Contact for more information.

Nordson EDI had a large booth displaying their wide range of products, including barrels, screws, static mixers, screen changers and melt filtration devices, gear pumps, coextrusion feedblocks, dies, and pelletizers.  Kind of like a one-stop-shopping mall for extrusion.  If you hadn't guessed, I am particularly fond of the Nordon Kreyenborg dual-cylinder, back-flushing, basket-type melt filtration system, which is capable of filtering out gels.


Gloucester Engineering had a good sized booth, displaying one of their servo-controlled bag machines, one of their new high-efficiency IBC units (which I was not allowed to photograph, but I can say it is sweet), photos of their blown film equipment, and also a nice display of their newly acquired Pearl Technologies. Gloucester obviously specializes in blown film lines and bag machines, and Pearl specializes in and manufactures downstream equipment such as bubble guides, rollers, spreaders, collapsing tent frames, pre-nip chillers, and airless turning bars (which always require a spreading roll immediately after).  The combination of Gloucester and Pearl are obviously complimentary and seems to be a perfect match. See photos below.


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On the topic of blown film machines, I had an extensive meeting with W&H (Windmoeller & Hoelscher) out of Lincoln, RI, my home state.  Most people hear the name W&H and immediately think of blown film lines, which they most certainly make, but they also produce complete slit-ribbon bag machines, from extruding the sheet, orienting it, slitting the web and winding onto bobbins, weaving the ribbons, then extrusion coating and printing, bagmaking, palletizing, and finishing.  In the current era of reducing offerings, W&H offers complete systems for film making and bagmaking, which if you will, does away with the need for an engineering staff.  The folks I spoke with were very competent and confidence inspiring if you are in the need of an entire system.

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On the resin side, I spoke with ExxonMobil Chemical that has introduced a new extrusion coating-grade, Exceed™ 0019XC metallocene polyethylene, to its existing portfolio; as well as new Vistamaxx™ grades with improved processability and heat seal initiation temperatures. Their new grades, Vistamax™ 3588 & 3980FL offer the converter more choices for improved hermeticity and packaging performance, as well as packaging machine efficiency. The advantages of all these resins are not to be understated, as they are truly remarkable, and offer advanced packaging solutions to the innovative converter. Other Vistamax™ grades are used in the garbage bags that you almost cannot puncture. Look for ExxonMobil Chemical to present these new developments at several prestigious venues this year.   

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I also spoke at length with the Dow Chemical Company, who had the most impressive and elaborate booth at the show.  It was nearly as big as the White House.  They showcased their entire portfolio of resins, which are too numerous to list here, and I'm sure you already know them.  Suffice it to say that Dow offers a full range of autoclave and tubular reactor products, including LDPE, LLDPE, mLLDPE, elastomeric LLDPEs, many copolymers, including ionomers. 

In addition to their resin portfolio, Dow displayed, via video, its Pack Studios, which is an elaborate network of pilot plant and applications laboratory with every manner of packaging equipment meant to speed up the development process with brand owners and customers.  See for more information.

Most people do not know that Dow Chemical invented chromatography.  In my humble opinion, this is the single greatest invention that Dow has developed. Their chromatography lab is second to none in the world today, both in terms of quantity, and the technology behind what they are doing. Following this innovative spirit, Dow has conducted a multi-year, proof-of-concept program to collect and reclaim non-recycled flexible packaging waste and convert it into oil.  This program involved not only the large scale pyrolysis process needed to convert plastic to oil, but working with governments around the country, municipal waste recovery companies, and more to make this work.  A separate pink collection was used for the program, and in the end, Dow calculated that only 50 tons per day is required to make the project feasible.  This equates to a community of only 1.5 million people.  The recovery rate is about 80%.  The end product, more or less a C-40 oil, is then refined for re-use.  My hat's off to Dow for this fine work.

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There is so much more to report, but space is limited.  I also spoke with Brabender, who offers extrusion-based analytical and lab-scale equipment, Hosakawa Alpine, who offers multilayer blown film systems, Guill Tool & Die, who makes tubing and wire coating dies, and Battenfeld-Cincinnati, who makes twin-screw extruder systems for PVC pipe, and Krauss Mafeii PVC twin screw pipe extrusion division, all of which I am involved with one way or another.



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