2015 Roundtable on Blown Film Extruders
Founder and CEO
Next Generation Films
Over 20 years with the company
Executive Vice President of Technology
Charter NEX Films Inc.
17 years with the company
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Charter NEX Films Inc.
10 years with the company
Q: What would you like raw materials vendors to know? What do you like or not like about dealing with them?
Timm: The resin producers have been in a highly lucrative period. Prior to the recent declines, we had not seen receding prices in nearly two years. This has shifted the selling dynamics between seller and buyer. These dynamics ebb and flow over the long haul. The balanced, astute producers realize this and strive to enhance relationships, even in a tight market. At Charter NEX, we appreciate fair, honest dealings with producers that understand that as we succeed, they succeed.
Q: Are you seeing any new trends in blown film lately?
Frecka: A major trend that has created traction in blown films is the ability of certain film-equipment suppliers to cut micro layers in blown film die heads (down to .25 microns up to 11 layers). Careful configuration of these micro layers can result in tremendous raw material savings in tie layers. Coming fast to the market are these new dies that, if designed properly, can result in new-age custom films exhibiting physical properties never before seen. Five- seven- nine- and higher-layer lines offer film property potentialities not achievable in standard three-layer lines of the past decade. Next has invested in several new assets based around this new found technology for the future film markets and customer demands.
Timm: There is a continuing trend to more layers to manage resin costs. As this trend proliferates, those film producers that have not reinvested and kept current with the latest machinery advances will fall further back in terms of overall capabilities.
Q: What are your customers requesting more of? Less of?
Beuning: Reliable and consistently improving film quality is expected. That consistency is valued more and more today, given the multi-color, high-speed presses in the marketplace. Additionally, our customers are demanding faster response times for each step in our interaction. From the initial price quote to order acknowledgement, production and, finally, through to the delivery of the film, they demand us to respond with urgency and to consistently meet deadlines. We work collaboratively with our customers to find ways to improve our responsiveness and ultimately help them to be responsive to their customers.
Our customers realize that the right film supplier can help them run their operations more efficiently with less downtime, less waste, and lower scrape rates. All of this results in less overall package cost. A lower-priced film can quickly become a liability if it causes a disruption in the manufacturing process and causes missed delivery dates to your customer.
Frecka: There is a huge movement away from rigid packaging into a more flexible package: more pouch film by the billions. Most current films are general mono/three-layer film structures. Customers are beginning to ask for more refinement into thinner films (source reduction) in the pouch market. Millions of new films will be needed to meet market demands in the next four years.
Another major trend that has created traction in blown films is the manufacturing ability to cut micro layers (down to 3 microns) into blown-film dies. In the past few years this capability has allowed companies in the forefront of film production to create very distinct and different spiral configurations, which yield films that have greater physical properties than ever before. Next has many new assets in which we can bring new customers films not re-creatable in standard three-layer format.
Q: What kind of advice would you like to give to your customers or potential customers?
Frecka: I would tell customers to really understand that new and exciting film technology is here today and price-performance ratios haven gone to a greater reward, as a result of new resin technologies and film-fabrication improvements.
Beuning: We’ve said it before – and it is true – that “all film is not created equal.” You need a film supplier that can consistently produce high-quality film and deliver it on time. One that has the right equipment that is well maintained; one that has training programs in place to assure that things are being done correctly and consistently; one that has a commitment to continual improvement.
Q: How can blown-film machinery be improved upon?
Beuning: Blown-film machinery has improved significantly in the last 10 to 15 years. The improvements with regards to controls and consistency of film production has been dramatic. Areas where continued improvements would be beneficial would be in multilayer die technology and film-cooling performance. The multilayer die technology enhances the products extruders can bring to their customers in terms of film function and performance. The film-cooling enhancements will allow productivity gains to both new and existing assets.