By Contributing Editor Hallie Forcinio
FlexPLAS® plasma-coated release film from Infiana Germany GmbH & Co. KG (Forchheim, Germany), counterpart of Infiana USA, Inc. (Malvern, PA) has been recognized with the 2016 Technology of the Year Award from the Fort Mill, SC-based Assn. of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL). The films manufacturer was honored March 20 during an awards dinner at the group’s annual Management Meeting at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA. The judges also recognized three firms for 2016 AIMCAL Technical Excellence Awards.
Infiana worked with Fraunhofer IFAM (Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials) in Bremen, Germany, on the highly elastic, thermally stable film, which is applied to the parts mold with vacuum and becomes like a second skin. Designed for production of fiber-reinforced plastic parts, the FlexPLAS thermoplastic, elastomer film eliminates solvent- or water-based release agents as well as the need for mold cleaners and sealers and mold cleaning between cycles. With elongation up to 300%, the release film is flexible enough to cover complex mold geometries without wrinkles. After molding, the release film can be removed or remain on the part to protect its surface.
Because the film eliminates any release residue and imparts an excellent surface finish, parts can be painted or bonded immediately without any post-molding surface treatment. As a result, relevant process time declines up to 60%, part-to-part quality improves, the service life of the mold increases, and workplace levels of dust and volatile organic compounds decline.
To further boost productivity, a gelcoat can be applied to the film, eliminating the need for a separate coating step and allowing simultaneous curing of gelcoat and part.
Judges liked the time- and cost-saving aspects of the film, as well as the elimination of release agents and mold cleaners. “It’s a time-saving, elegant solution,” says one judge.
This year’s Technology of the Year judging panel included five well-known experts in the converting field: Tom Bezigan of PLC Technologies (Cicero, NY); Dr. Charles A. Bishop of C.A. Bishop Consulting (Loughborough, UK); Dr. Edward D. Cohen of Edward D. Cohen Consulting, Inc. (Fountain Hills, AZ); Dr. John B. Fenn of Fennagain (West Hills, CA); and Dr. Eldridge M. Mount of EMMOUNT Technologies, LLC (Canandaigua, NY). AIMCAL executive director Craig Sheppard moderated the judging teleconference.
More info: www.aimcal.org, www.infiana.com
Metallizing Equipment Accessories
The patented ARIS intelligent web-guiding system from Roll-2-Roll Technologies LLC (Stillwater, OK), combines fiberoptic sensing technology with advanced signal processing and adaptive control technology. As a result, the system automatically detects the edge of the web without calibration or teaching and adapts to changes in web speed, tension, material properties and sensor gain. Capable of handling a wide range of materials and automatically adapting to new substrates or processes, the technology also enhances the flexibility of converting operations.
Based on licenses from Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK), the system makes it possible for converters to adapt to changing processing conditions “on-the-fly” and maintain web alignment across a wide range of materials, including downgauged substrates. A change in firmware allows the same sensor to be used for a variety of tasks including edge sensing, line sensing, width measurement, marking detection, marking decoding, label counting, web-break detection, splice detection and end-of-roll detection.
The ability to sense clear film in a vacuum environment brings a new level of web guiding to metallizing chambers. According to Roll-2-Roll Technologies, no other technology can perform this function because existing optical sensors can’t sense clear films and ultrasonic and pneumatic sensors are incompatible with a vacuum environment. Future applications for the technology include barcode detection and decoding.
Judges were impressed by the automated control aspect of the system. “It eliminates a lot of guesswork for the operator, saves time and improves reliability and yields,” notes one panel member.
More info: www.r2r-tech.com
or Metallized Product
The micro-embossing process from Uflex, Ltd., Films Div. (Noida, India), helps Indo European Foods, Ltd. (Felixstone, Suffolk, UK), prevent bags of its Kohinoor brand premium rice from sliding during palletizing, stretch/shrink wrapping, secondary packaging, transport and display. Bags remain stable even when stacked several feet high. Designed for bulk bags holding at least 5 kg, the micro-embossing is applied to the laminate in registered bands prior to bagmaking. Nearly invisible when bags are viewed on the shelf, the micro-embossing increases the film’s coefficient of friction without affecting graphics or bag integrity. Micro-embossing eliminates the need for anti-slip additives, spray coatings or other treatments, which can add cost, time and labor to the packaging process.
The judges noted the micro-embossing is a simple solution to load instability, a big problem worldwide. They believe the ability to change the coefficient of friction of the film surface without damaging the barrier layer of the lamination or altering the graphics could accelerate the global push to replace rigid packaging with flexible packaging. “This technology could have significant impact, the size of the market is huge,” comments one panel member.
More info: www.uflexltd.com/packaging-films.php
Finalist – Material
Mor-Free LPlus adhesive technology from Dow Europe GmbH (Horgan, Switzerland), sister company of Dow Chemical Co. (Houston, TX), is a reactive, solvent-free, two-component adhesive system developed for two-, three- and four-ply food packaging laminations. Compatible with a broad range of films, foils and metallized substrates, the adhesive’s lower initial viscosity means enhanced machinability, wettability and pot-life stability. The reduced level of monomeric isocyanates in the formula lowers the risk of contamination by primary aromatic amines. Based on polyurethane chemistry with 100% solids content, the high-efficiency adhesive offers converters the potential to run at higher web speeds, faster compliance with food legislation requirements and shorter lead times due to quicker curing.
The judges observed the adhesion on the sample pouch was perfect with no detectable odor. “This is another technology with nearly universal application,” says one judge. “It also combines energy savings, time savings and low cost.”
More info: www.dow.com