Flexible Packagingsat down with Pillar Technologies to discuss the increasingly important role surface treatment plays in sustainability and the flexible packaging production process.

Rob Hablewitz, business unit manager, Pillar Technologies

Q: In what ways can today’s surface treatment equipment further advance a converter’s goal to have a more sustainable product or process?

A: Sustainable products are those products providing environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health, welfare, and the environment over their full commercial cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to final disposition. From a surface treatment equipment standpoint, using the corona treater efficiently would assist with increased sustainability. Operating well-maintained surface treatment equipment with consistent and reliable watt densities or power requirements leads to reduced power consumption. Also, by exhausting ozone out of the work environment, the workers or operators remain protected, and with use of an ozone destruct system, the environment remains protected. The consistency of adequate power levels enhances long-term adhesion for any given product which tends to minimize product waste.

Q: What features or technologies are your customers asking for and how do you anticipate surface treatment suppliers will satisfy these demands?

A: The continuous progression for flexible packaging companies is to move toward faster speeds, thinner but yet stronger substrates, and multi-layer products. In surface treatment, the demand has always been focused on reliable, easy-to-operate and easy-to-maintain equipment. Reliable results at higher speeds come from properly designed equipment for a given application. Pillar Technologies equipment is specially designed for each of our customers, enhancing the ability to provide cost effective, reliable and highly efficient equipment. For some customers, glassed steel covered ground rolls are the answer. For others, it's either ceramic as the dielectric covering or even silicone sleeves. Still others may desire finned versus segmented stainless steel electrodes. Also, OEMs and end users may request integration with their specific and proprietary control systems.

Q: What current flexible packaging trends present the biggest challenges to surface treatment units and how are suppliers addressing these roadblocks?

A: The biggest roadblock we have come up against in recent years is strangely due to the high cost of oil. When the cost of oil is high, so is the purchase price of resins used in the extrusion industry to manufacture flexible packaging products. In order to combat these high costs, the average extruder may purchase unqualified or unreliable resins, or resins that contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3) as filler, for example. Should this potential exist, the result is reduced levels of treatment of the film for a given power setting or watt density, thus not achieving the resultant dyne level expected from previously successful power settings. By maintaining honest communications with both the end user and manufacturer of film resins, this potential roadblock can be easily identified and remedied.

Pillar Technologies
262-912-7200; www.pillartech.com