High-quality plastic films: Extending operations inUS

High-quality plastic films: Extending operations in the US

5:27 AM, 6th September 2018
Plasticizers – Calendered Films

By Renaat Demeulemeester

The difference between cast and calendered film is not only the result of the manufacturing process, but also the particular ingredients added to the raw materials during manufacturing. Most vinyl films are made from the same basic raw material – polyvinylchloride (PVC) polymer – which in its unadulterated state, is hard and inflexible. In order to give PVC the necessary flexibility, a key ingredient – a plasticizer – is added into the PVC resin.

Calendered vinyl is produced in a continuous process that enables highvolume, low-cost manufacturing. On the calendered line the raw materials are mixed together, extruded, and then flattened out into a thin film by passing through various heated calendered rolls. In cast manufacturing, a liquid is poured onto a carrier sheet, which is then heated in ovens. No stress is involved in the process, so the sheets feature no shrinkage.

American Renolit, a leading manufacturer of high-quality plastic films in the USA, has helped transform the US calendered film market, improving product quality and closing the gap between calendered and cast films. Now, the company is stepping boldly into the future with a range of calendered films that contain no phthalates. The new phthalate-free films use a plasticizer that is based on an entirely different chemistry, which has been rigorously researched, developed and tested over the last two years.

These innovative products can comply with regulations such as California’s Prop 65 and the EU’s REACH and also provide the same high quality and reliability as the existing phthalate-based films. The more environmentally friendly non-phthalate versions represent the latest addition to the company’s already innovative and high-quality range of digital printing films, suitable for every usual indoor and outdoor printing application. This latest development is part of the company’s considerable investment in state-of-theart equipment and process technologies, enabling significant improvements in the complex manufacturing process of digital printing films. It further enables the development of digital printing films offering excellent process ability on coating and plotting machines.

The digital printing films deliver perfect printability through a variety of printing methods and ink types, have superior color resistance and with an outstanding opacity. Both the matte and very high gloss versions can be custom embossed – unique within the industry. Available in a range of thicknesses and flexibilities – from soft to rigid – the films are low shrinkage, have excellent lay flat properties and ensure quality and specification consistency across batches.

As a forerunner in plastic films manufacturing, going phthalate-free was a logical progression for Renolit in 2017 to offer its customers a safer, more environmentally friendly digital film alternative, having the same high-quality performance and reliability as existing phthalate-based films. As an independent, family-owned business, the company recently celebrated 70 years manufacturing high-quality plastic films and related products for wide range of applications including indoor and outdoor advertising and branding, vehicle and architectural graphics, as well as product identification.

Renolit took a major step towards installing its new calender line ‘calender 35’ that will extend the capacity of the plant in La Porte, Indiana. With all the key engineering work completed, ground breaking for the construction work started on 26 June, and soon the first core equipment deliveries will arrive.

Ground breaking and the imminent arrival of the first major equipment components from suppliers for the new calender line is a major milestone for this investment. It marks the conclusion of the engineering phase and move to full production in 2019. That also means a boost to the local economy as starting to hire and train new staff to operate the line and support the business development, creating opportunities for both internal job growth and new hires.

For the company this marks the realization of the capacity expansion project that was approved and reported on last year in light of the phthalate-free manufacturing announcement made in 2017. The additional equipment will allow the company to meet the growing needs of existing US based customers, as well as develop new markets and applications.

The new line will incorporate the latest calendered film production technology including more environmentally friendly phthalate free options.

The continuing investment in the La Porte facility with the aim of making it a showcase operation – Renolit has invested over $100 million in refurbishing and extending the La Porte plant over the last 18 years.

Author: Renaat Demeulemeester is President of American Renolit Corp.

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