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Keywords of this article:  extrusion 
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Plastic films are gaining more popularityin various end user industries. To meet the increasing market demand coupledwith higher application requirements, film producers are looking for advancedprocessing technologies and equipment to facilitate efficient production ofhigh quality products.

The global plastic films market is expected to grow in the next few years. (Photo: GOEBEL IMS)
The global plastic films market is expected to grow in the next few years. (Photo: GOEBEL IMS)

The global plastic films market is expected to witness a significant growth with CAGR of 5.4% till 2023, according to the latest report of Market Research Future. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region among all the regions due to growing industries, followed by North America region.

Plastic films have wide applications in various end user industries, such as packaging, consumer goods, pharmaceutical, E&E, construction, and others. The major key factors to driving the market of plastic films are increasing consumer demand coupled with higher application requirements.

Increasing in demand of packaging industry has been contributing to the growth of the plastic films market growth, stood as the largest application segment and accounted for over 84.3% of the total revenue share in 2016.

Nevertheless, the battery films, for example, the films used in the lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles, will be the next whirlwind. In particular, as the electric vehicles market is rapidly growing in China.

While consumers are requiring innovative and higher quality products, producers are looking for latest advanced technologies to produce products that meet market demand as well as to achieve efficient production and stay competitive.

In that case, the machinery manufacturers are making every effort to upgrade their processing technologies and provide cutting-edge solutions, satisfying the needs and requirements of the film producers.

Innovative technologies for battery separator films

The markets for renewable energy and high-performance lithium ion batteries are consistently growing. Therefore, the demand for bi-axially oriented specialty film rapidly increases.

During the charging and discharging cycles, the ions move from cathode to anode and back. Thereby they pass the microporous separator film which physically separates and electrically isolates cathode from anode. To ensure that the film surface won’t get damaged, a sensitive processing is required. Thus, the highest quality is the key to success.
The INTERSLIT BSF slitter rewinder for converting battery separator films.
For converting battery separator films, GOEBEL IMS developed the cutting-edge slitter rewinder INTERSLIT BSF which is specifically designed to process hyper sensitive materials such as battery separator film also based on wet-process BOPE.

The machine offers several state-of-the-art features and options. The especially compact station rewinder concept with a short web path from unwind to rewind keeps the web on track and allows lowest web tension ranges.

In addition, thanks to the ergonomic design, the machine is functionally accessible all-around and thereby ensures highest productivity during unloading and set-up.

The developing engineers at GOEBEL IMS focus on achieving the maximum of precision and efficiency. Therefore, high end components such as all carbon fiber and individually driven rollers, as well as an absolute precise and sensitive web tension control system are integrated in the INTERSLIT BSF.

This is to ensure the proper handling of such valuable and delicate substrate like BOPE based battery separator film, according to GOEBEL IMS.

To achieve the targeted finished roll quality, the contact force is individually adjustable from gap winding up to sensitive contact winding. All finished rolls are carefully rewound on individual rewind stations which are positioned fully automatic and are all arranged on one common side of the slitter rewinder.

These stations open automatically and release the finished rolls into a rest position, where the operator or optionally an automatic handling system will clear the rolls from the unloading position. Thus, an easy and fast unloading and inspection of the finished rolls is guaranteed.

The INTERSLIT BSF provides a maximum web width of up to 6,000 mm, and unwind and rewind diameter as well as speed can be adjusted upon customers’ needs. The top solution for most precise and dust reduced cutting are individual driven shear top knifes which are embedded in a carbon fiber body bottom cutter shaft that also can be driven independently.

Alternatively, classical razor blade holders would apply. Additionally, knife de-dusting systems and double side web-cleaning devices downstream the unwinding unit are available.
The latest simultaneous stretching technology from Brückner.
German film stretching line market leader Brückner Maschinenbau focused on their latest concepts for specialty film production at CHINAPLAS 2018 held in Shanghai, China. Apart from the new laboratory stretching machine “KARO 5.0”, the manufacturer also highlighted two battery separator film production processes.

The 5.5 m line concept for the wet process is a powerful and efficient battery separator film technology, while the unique LISIM (Linear Motor Simultaneous Stretching) simultaneous process is applied to wet battery separator film production for the very first time.

Simultaneous systems stretch the film in both directions at the same time. The mechanical systems for simultaneous stretching have limited yield and stretching forces as well as low flexibility due to the limitations of the complex solutions.

Brückner developed its unique LISIM technology to solve the problem, using linear motors driving clips without any mechanical connections.

This drive principle allows a new level of freedom when manufacturing high-quality simultaneously stretched film in fast and flexible production.

At the fairgrounds, Helmut Huber, Chief Operating Officer, Sales & Project Management at Brückner Maschinenbau, revealed that the manufacturer has developed new technology and will introduce a brand new flexible simultaneous stretching machine for battery separation within the next few months.

New solution for superior food grade PET film applications

In order to intercept the growing PET processing trend, Italian renowned extrusion lines manufacturer Bandera has developed a solution matching the consolidated twin screw extrusion technology HVTSE (Highly Vented Twin Screw Extruders) to the very new PURe system.

The combined PURe & HVTSE technology caters for PET super clean packages.According to Bandera, the new system aims at producing PET food grade rigid film from conventional PET recycled flakes, with reduced power consumption and superior quality of end product. As said, the tests performed show cleaning efficiency values exceeding the minimum EFSA and FDA requirements.

Thanks to its solid expertise in PET flat die extrusion technology, Bandera made the development of PURe possible. The innovative technology takes conventional post-consumer PET flakes and pre-treats them efficiently, thus enabling the production of extra clean material for direct food contact.

In addition, the technology does not impair the possibility of using the three-layer (A-B-A) PET film structure with outer barrier layers made of virgin material. Therefore, PURe is equally functional for packaging applications.

The new system has been designed to cover the most common output range requested by the packaging industry, through various models which are directly sized to the standard production capacity of the relevant highly vented twin screw extruders supplied by Bandera.

Bandera promoted the new combined PURe & HVTSE technology at an Open House Event and the CHINAPLAS 2018.

Automation module for faster material changeovers

With the corporate philosophy “Passion for innovation”, Windmoeller & Hoelscher (W&H) hails the “Packaging 4.0” concept with its smart and automated solutions, including the TURBOCLEAN technology.
TURBOCLEAN technology increases the productivity of an extrusion line with faster material changeovers.
Smaller batch sizes are becoming more common, meaning extrusion line jobs need to be changed over more frequently. The results are more unusable film and lower system productivity.

TURBOCLEAN automation module, which purges resin from all extruders and gravimetric hoppers simultaneously, increases the productivity of an extrusion line dramatically, with shorter rinsing times and faster material changeovers.

With TURBOCLEAN, the extrusion system changes the material itself, so the machine operator no longer has to carry out every stage of the job change manually. Instead, TURBOCLEAN does everything automatically and at the same time. All the operator has to do is move the suction lance from one material container to the next. The rest is taken care of by the machine itself.

Instead of taking up to 40 minutes to switch jobs, a blown film line with TURBOCLEAN can be ready to start again in as little as 12 minutes, depending on the product. So film manufacturers benefit from greater productivity as well as raw material and energy savings.

TURBOCLEAN module was only available as an integrated component of the new W&H VAREX II blown film line previously. Now, existing VAREX II and VAREX I lines built in or after 2010 can also be retrofitted with the TURBOCLEAN module which is a “Plug & Play” solution, taking just 1 to 2 days per extruder to install.

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