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Thermoforming IML pioneer Tech II now extrudes its own sheet

June 5, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, OHIO — Tech II Inc., which has pioneered in-mold labeling for thermoforming in North America, is now extruding its own polypropylene sheet on a new coextrusion line from Welex Inc.

Tech II President Eric Shiffer said the packaging company had been purchasing its sheet from outside suppliers. “Self-manufacturing our own sheet came from a desire for greater vertical integration — to control quality and costs — but even more importantly, to experiment and innovate on a confidential basis, accelerating the innovation cycle,” Shiffer said in a news release. “This allows us to experiment with products in a proprietary way, without giving away any secrets we develop.”

The Springfield-based Tech II is doing trial production of two products, he said.

Used for years in injection molding, in-mold labeling gives high-level graphics for packaging. Thermoforming has faster cycles and makes thinner parts.

Tech II invested in a coextrusion line that can product two-layer or three-layer sheet, with film lamination capability. Welex, which announced the news June 4, said the line can be expanded into full barrier sheet production. It can handle up to five additional extruders, including additional rolls for additional sheet cooling. The Welex DB-W feedblock has a modular design so feedblock sections and extruders can be added.

That will allow Tech II to produce high barrier sheet containing EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol) and adhesives or two-color sheet with a core layer of recycled plastic.

The family-owned packaging company’s core business is injection molding food containers, lids, bowls and cups. Tech II runs 50 injection molding machines, turning out 15 million pieces a day.

Welex is based in Blue Bell, Pa.

Tech II executives wanted to diversity into thermoforming — with IML, the first time the technology has been used in North America — to set the company apart. Two years ago, Tech II bought an FT3500 thermoformer from Thermoforming Systems LLC, the mold and automation, from Hekuma GmbH in Eching, Germany.

Welex President and CEO David Schroeder called IML thermoforming “cutting-edge innovation.”