Tom’s Poly Ploys

AIMCAL Web Coating & Handling & 2013 Charleston

After two days rest on return from the K-Show in Dusseldorf, I just attended and returned from the 2013 AIMCAL Web Handling & Coating conference in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  I have to say, I heard some great papers there and met some fascinating people. 

K-Show 2013 & Upcoming Extrusion Coating Seminars

Just got back from the K-Show.  It is always excellent to be in Germany, and to see so much new technology in one place is a bonus.  Wait... reverse that order. 

A Fateful Meeting in Düsseldorf

Like many others, I am off to Germany this week to attend the K-Show in Düsseldorf.  I have about 3 weeks of work to do in just a few days.  And on my return, I turn around to attend the AIMCAL conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

SAM, NA - A New Player in the USA for Cast Film & Extrusion Coating Equipment

I just finished a nice meeting with Andy Christie, Managing Director of SAM North America, LLC in Phoenix, New York. 

TAPPI Extrusion Coating Short Course

A testament to marketing and tradition, the years that TAPPI holds its extrusion coating short course are those years that the extrusion coating short course I teach at UMASS-Lowell are poorly attended. Knowing this, and to stay current and see old friends, I decided to attend the TAPPI course in Memphis last August (2013).

Blocking in a PP/PE Blown Film Structure

This question comes from Southeast Asia.  A blown film converter recently changed from a  PP /PP (polypropylene) coex blown film structure to a PP/PE (polyethylene) structure and is now experiencing blocking with the latter.  His question is why?  And of course, how to fix it.

Nordmeccanica SpA a Laminating Powerhouse

A visit to Nordmeccanica in Italy reveals why the company's "standardized" approach to roll to roll lamination is so successful.

What do Kerite, UMASS-Lowell, Malloy, Womer and Glycon Have in Common?

The answer...  They were all brought together last November (2012) at the grand opening of the new Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center Building on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. 

Another Review of Die Streaks

We really have to talk about this topic again.  It is amazing how many times I get calls on this seemingly simple, yet universal subject. 

What's New with Primers, and a visit to old friends

I made a visit to some old friends last week at Mica Corporation in Shelton, Connecticut, USA... Jeff Siegel and Bruce Foster. 

Looking for reader feedback on Extruder Manufacturers

I need your help.  I am assembling a list of extruder manufacturers and their performance. 

A 4-Shift, Around-the-Clock Schedule that EVERYONE Will Love

Throughout my career, I have worked in industrial processes that operated on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 days per year schedule. 

All About Screws

I had the opportunity to meet with the folks at Glycon Corp. (The old Great Lakes Feedscrews) in Tecumseh, Michigan. 

Specialty Extrusion at Bixby International

Quite often, the press follows those that produce large volumes of commodity products, and quite understandably so.  However, I had the opportunity last week to meet with the folks at Bixby International in Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA, and I am very happy to see that specialty extrusion exists in such a big fashion. 

Interesting Encounter

So, I'm in Kuala Lumpur, taking in the sites, and I'm watching the fountain Light show at the Petronas Towers with about a thousand other people. 


So much for the idea that film products made in the Far East are of lower quality than that in the USA.  And though labor costs are lower, so much for the thought that Asian factories are inefficient. 

Reducing Sealing Failure

I had a nice talk with Dr. Barry Morris on a recent visit to DuPont's Chestnut Run facility in Wilmington, Delaware. 

NPE Follow Up

Now that everyone is rested and caught-up from a fantastic NPE show in Orlando, let's review what's new and exciting.

The 2012 NPE Show

I know it's old news, but I am excited that the NPE show has moved both its date and time to April in Orlando.

Why do I have these bubbles in my finished product?

As complicated as the extrusion process is, with all its nuances of equipment variations, materials, finished product requirements, ancillary equipment, etc., I have observed over the years that there are a core set of issues that affect every processor.  I will touch on the subject of degradation as manifested by bubbles or voids in the finished product.

Screw & Die Design Models

I met with a couple of old friends this week, Dr. Natti Rao, who was visiting New York from Germany, and John Beaumont, a classmate from UMASS-Lowell.  It's always great to catch up with old friends, and even better when I can do that and talk about screw and die design modeling.  Wait... did I just say that?

Some Thoughts on Purging

A reader asked for some information on purging LDPE in his twin screw extrusion process. By and large, the screws within a twin screw extruder are “self-wiping” due to the close contact between elements and the high shear rates caused by this close contact. That being said, there are regions within the screw design that are low-shear regions which do not receive the same wiping action as the high-shear regions. These low-shear regions are thus susceptible to build-up of carbon, color concentrates, or any other additive used in the process.

Things have settled down

A lot has happened since my last post, including teaching many extrusion and polymer chemistry classes around the country, traveling, consulting, visiting friends and family, getting a sun tan and enjoying life in general. I’ve also made a conscious effort to turn back the hands of time, and I’ve lost 40 lbs (18 kg) over the summer. It’s great to be back into college clothes, and it’s great to be back writing. There have also been many new changes with the blog, all of which I see as very positive. Congrats to Yo and her team for continuing to operate what I view as the premier online magazine discussing paper, film and foil converting issues. They have done a great service to the industry and it is an honor to be associated with this team.

You Get What You Pay For, Part 2

Last issue I discussed what happens to a blown film manufacturer on a shoestring budget. It is a financial truth that if a company does not make enough money on the product it sells, then something has to give, i.e., either it will eventually go out of business, or some necessary expense must be eliminated. Let’s look at some of these and see what areas an end user can focus on when meeting with a supplier.

You Get what You Pay For, or Caveat Emptor.

Yup… the old adage is true. All things being equal, you get what you pay for. Since my days at Cryovac, Mobil Plastics, James River Corp, et al, and then consulting with many, many companies, I have seen the full gamut of quality in the blown film / cast film / extrusion coating and laminating / packaging / converting industries. The larger, more reputable companies offer excellent quality products and excellent service at a price commensurate with those attributes.

Techniques to Prevent/Minimize Die Lines

I’m sorry about the long gap between posts. I have been working as an expert witness on a very interesting and demanding case which has taken all of my time for the last two months. Now… back to die lines.

What’s Up With Die Lines

We’ve all seen them. We really don’t like to see them. We’ve invented ingenious ways to deal with them, like oscillating and rotating dies and extruders, but we just can’t seem to get rid of them permanently, and like a bad penny, they always show up when least desired and expected.

It’s Nice to Be Back

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new Blog. It’s been a while, as I had to take some time off after selling Great Lakes Technologies. I am happy to be back writing in the paper, film and foil converting world. I’ll be writing on various topics that the typical polymer processor would encounter on the job, whether it be an everyday activity such as die streaks, or a new plant start-up. In fact, that’s a great first topic… Let’s talk about die streaks next time.

Please feel free to write me with questions. I’ll do my best to answer them in a timely fashion. Until then, Happy Converting!

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