Steven J. Sargeant
General Manager, Technology
Flex Films (USA) Inc. – A division of Uflex Ltd.
(270) 982-3456 | www.flexfilm.com
What’s new in the world of film making? Have you released any new notable films lately?
Sargeant: Multicomponent films replacing the function of individual films is the trend in film making. Films combining the properties of several substrates, for instance twist with barrier or dead-fold properties with barrier, give the converters and end users many more options than previously available.
What would you say is the most popular (or most significant) film that your company produces? What makes it so notable?
Sargeant: Clear barrier substrates, substrates for advanced metal adhesion and ultra-high barrier films are notable films from Flex Films. These grades give Flex Films a broad platform of barrier options in the global market.
Does your company create custom films? If so, please describe the collaboration process that’s involved. Is there a particular success story that you can share with us?
Sargeant: We at Flex Films produce a significant fraction of our volume as custom offerings. The process starts when a customer indicates a potential unmet need. Our engineer will collaborate and define as many variables as possible. Often the end-use customer’s process is involved in overall system optimization to deliver the final end result to the market. This process can take anywhere from three months to two years based on the complexity of the customer and market need. As an example, Flex Films produced a film with ultra-high gloss for a customer looking for a metalized film with unique surface appeal. This process took about six months to optimize the aesthetics and handling properties of the material for the end use.
Aside from down gauging, what are some other trends in film making? Do you anticipate any other trends in the future?
Sargeant: Films based on recycled materials or compatible with downstream recycling are becoming significantly important in the market. Bio-based materials at this time don’t offer the economic or technical benefits needed to drive substantial volume. However, we see recycling processes and materials as avenue for current low-cost options in the market.
What’s your take on where the industry seems to be headed in terms of plastic film recyclability? What role do you expect to play in this (or what role have you already been playing)?
Sargeant: Flex Films is committed to this approach. It offers current technical and cost advantages over bio-based materials. No doubt, as the science progresses, bio-based materials will become the predominant source of supply. However, in the meantime, recycling is a viable approach for materials generation and material handling for reduced carbon impact. More work put into this approach by the industry as a whole is likely to achieve even larger impact.