Canadian Plastics

Product Spotlight: Blown film upgrades

A band-aid approach to running a blown film line may do for awhile, but not indefinitely. Downtime, scrap and lost profits eventually spell out the proverbial handwriting on the wall: It's time for an...

February 1, 2003   Canadian Plastics

A band-aid approach to running a blown film line may do for awhile, but not indefinitely. Downtime, scrap and lost profits eventually spell out the proverbial handwriting on the wall: It’s time for an upgrade.

MANAGEMENT WAS ESPECIALLY KEEN to replace the outdated control systems on co-extrusion lines at Pliant Corporation’s South Deerfield, MA, facility. Two of the company’s three-layer lines had five heat/cool zones per barrel and over 30 temperature control zones overall. The lines were being controlled by an analog unit described by plant personnel as “a black box with flashing lights”.

After consulting with a local equipment distributor, Pliant (which also has four facilities in Canada) decided to retrofit one of the three-layer lines with Watlow’s PPC-2000 programmable process controller.

The controller comes with a 19 in. color screen and Watlow’s Anawin HMI software. The software incorporates data logging, graphing capability, auto-tuning, recipe management and built-in alarm features. Color-coded graphics show operating data associated with each extruder and each die. Operators see real-time parameters on each operating zone. Supervisors have the ability to access the same data from remote screens located in production offices.


“The data provided by the PPC-2000 is invaluable to the managers and supervisors responsible for trouble shooting and optimizing the process,” says B.J. Goclowski, optimization manager of Pliant Corporation. “Remote access provides a good tool to conduct recipe management and configuration upgrades.”

The equipment supplier, an authorized Watlow distributor, assisted Pliant with the implementation and set-up of the controller; configuring it to control up to 48 temperature zones and process loops with a single unit. The PPC-2000 is modularized, which means it can accommodate growth and additional blown film lines.

Zesta Engineering 905-568-3100

AUTOMATIC GAUGE CONTROL has been embraced by film makers worldwide, Macro Engineering reports. Macro’s Accupro automatic gauge control system for blown film dies was commercially installed at a number of facilities in Europe and the Far East last year, on 18 in. to 20 in. dies. Additionally, at least one Canadian company has scheduled the system for installation on a 20 in. die in 2003.

According to Adolfo Edgar, the system is ideal for processors producing high quality film that will subsequently be printed, laminated or converted. Gauge variation of a film produced on a die equipped with Accupro will typically be about 3.5% within 2 sigma. Macro’s tests have shown that the control system reduces gauge variation even further for certain types of set-ups, such as lines running “easy to process” polyolefins. For existing blown film dies, Macro guarantees that the Accupro system in combination with the company’s D-10 dual lip air ring will improve the gauge profile of the film produced in the die by at least 50%.

Macro Engineering & Technology Inc. 905-507-9000

UPLIFTING AIR RINGS: Addex, Inc. has developed a patent-pending Manual Gauge Control (MGC) air ring that permits selective adjustment to reduce film gauge deviation caused by extruder, die or ambient anomalies by as much as 25%. The company has applied expertise gained from manufacturing the widely-used Addex Dual Lip air ring to the new MCG air ring. Depending on size, the MGC is equipped with anywhere from 100 to over 200 individually adjustable control bolts in 10mm wide air channels, providing high resolution. Covers over bolts assure that only authorized personnel cam make adjustments. The MCG can be used with both stationary and rotating dies, although with the latter, the air ring can control only about half the gauge deviations — those caused by the rotating parts. Being manual, the MCG provides film houses with a cost-effective option for controlling gauge deviation.

Addex Inc. 781-344-5800

BETA TESTING IS OVER and Future Design’ Saturn Genie automated air ring is now fully commercial. The patent-pending system is capable of recording all the settings of the Saturn air ring; in particular it uses digital control to recall each designated airflow component position.

Quebec-based film manufacturer Imaflex Inc. has recently installed the Genie Model Phase 2 on one its production lines. This model uses electrical actuators linked to a state-of-the-art control panel to achieve repeatability. The system displays digital readout of ambient temperature, relative humidity, air ring pressure and temperature, providing the operator with the ability to monitor and drive the air ring functions. The Genie Model Phase 3 includes a PLC with human interface component using a high-resolution touch-screen control.

Future Design Inc. 905-361-9978

BATTENFELD GLOUCESTER Engineering’s 1039 winder represents the company’s latest innovation in winding technology. Available in sizes up to 112 in. in width, the machine is capable of winding 42 in. diameter rolls at speeds up to 500 fpm..

Toray Plastics has recently purchased and installed the 1039 winder at its N. Kingston, RI plant. Toray’s winder will typically be used to wind both mono-oriented tensilized and non-oriented cast polypropylene film from 41 in. to 65 in. wide.

“We like the winder’s construction and how easily it was integrated into our system,” says Wayne D’Amico, Toray’s maintenance and engineering coordinator. “Battenfeld designed it to fit in our space.”

Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering 978-281-1800

China a hot market

Brampton Engineering has sold its fifth seven-layer blown film line in China. According to Phillip Kwok, Brampton’s vice president of sales, multi-layer, coextruded film of more than five layers is sought by Chinese companies for its superior gas and aroma barrier properties, as well as its chemical resistance, tensile strength, optics, formability and other properties.

The reputation of Brampton’s Streamlined Coextrusion Die, which is the heart of seven-layer lines, has grown among Chinese blown film manufacturers. Kwok says the SCD provides unmatched production flexibility and reduces downtime for cleaning and maintenance.

Brampton Engineering Inc. 905-793-3000

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