Düsseldorf, Germany — Despite its numerous benefits, multilayer packaging is increasingly coming under scrutiny due to its inability to be efficiently recycled.
As the circular economy gains momentum, solutions are being sought that are able to provide the barrier properties provided by multiple layers with the green properties needed in a sustainable world.
But it's not just about packaging. The drive for more sustainability is sweeping across the industry. From resource and energy efficiency to renewably sourced polymers, solutions are being developed to address concerns about the impact of the plastics industry on the environment.
At K 2019, Hosokawa Alpine AG Film Extrusion Division showed a host of new solutions and future-proof system configurations, such as its new HX Select extruder series. "We've downsized the extrusion system, but it still has a very high output," said Operations Director Joachim Oberbauer. "It's a very small setup, but the melt quality is the same, and it can also handle bio-based and recycled materials."
The system has an innovative cylinder and screw design for up to 50 percent higher output yet delivers a 20 percent energy saving compared to standard barrel extruders, he added. Walking around the stand during K, Oct. 16-23 in Düsseldorf, he pointed out further innovations.
"We are presenting a complete cooling system, which has a new Alpine CRX cooling ring series for outer cooling as well as the new Alpine HT cooling tower for inner cooling," he demonstrated. It provides an energy-efficient use of existing cooling capacity for an optimum film quality with maximum output and can be very easily integrated into the system through just one cooling air supply line.
"Also we are showing for the first time the Alpine ASW screen changer, which is efficient and compact, as an additional innovation," Oberbauer noted.
The new Alpine HWD winder combines the advantages of flatbed and turret winders in a single machine and can reach winding speeds of up to 300 meters per minute.
Using the company's two proprietary digital tools, Hosokawa Alpine ISA and ExVis 5.0, processors can have an overview of what's going on with the machine or with the plant.
"ISA is a central digitization platform, developed from scratch, that can read out, save, display and analyze process data from linked plants," Oberbauer said. "Digitalization is the most important development today and will surely continue to be so into the future."
Version 5.0 of the company's ExVis process visualization tool adds new features and a more conveniently structured user interface. It is a fully integrated system, incorporating the data of all system components, from material feeder to the winder, which can then be managed centrally and easily integrated into ERP and MES systems.
A central topic at the show is the development of polyethylene single-material solutions for packaging applications.
"We were pioneers in MDO technology — we have been doing it for over 20 years — and it is an important component in producing single-material PE compounds that give the right performance."
In machine-direction orientation (MDO) film, a polymer film is heated to a temperature slightly below its melting point and stretched in a particular orientation. This enables film characteristics such as stiffness, oxygen permeability or appearance to be specifically adapted and the film thickness reduced, therefore saving on material.
The patented Trim Reduction for Inline Orientation technology also ensures savings in materials when trimming the boundary strips. The newest MDO 04 orientation line features updated TRIO technology, making it possible to produce, laminate and print full PE material composites.
Pouches at the show are produced within the scope of various joint projects, including a pouch from Coveris where PET is replaced by a machine-oriented PE film made out of Total's Lumicene Supertough resin.