DuPont execs talk packaging, innovation and collaboration

By Robert Grace
Associate Publisher & Business Development Director

Published: June 10, 2013 12:09 pm ET
Updated: June 10, 2013 12:12 pm ET

Image By: DuPont Co. Dale Outhous, vice president of ethylene copolymers at DuPont's Packaging & Industrial Polymers business.

Related to this story

Topics Packaging, Film & Sheet, Extrusion
Companies & Associations DuPont Co.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — DuPont Co. is a significant player in the film and sheet business, yet that operation keeps a relatively low profile within the $34.8 billion behemoth corporation. Plastics News estimates the company has North American sales of about $1.3 billion worth of those products, which ranks it as the sixth-largest such firm on that continent.

Three executives of the DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers business – which encompasses flexible packaging film applications and glass-laminated solutions – sat down for an interview at the recent Chinaplas show in Guangzhou. Dale Outhous, vice president of ethylene copolymers, was joined by Philippe Hanck, the unit's Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific managing director, and Roger Kant, its Australia-based Asia-Pacific marketing director. They provided a brief overview of the Packaging & Industrial Polymers unit's activities and some current market trends.

DuPont splits its Packaging & Industrial Polymers business into two broad sectors:

  • Food and nonfood packaging, which is seeing its greatest growth in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
  • Various diverse industrial and consumer applications, such as golf balls, cosmetics, roofing, asphalt modification for paving, polymer modification and the like.

All have been growing quite nicely, according to Outhous, who noted that infrastructure growth drives use of DuPont's various types of specialized engineering resins. And in Asia, Kant added, the unit also supplies adhesive polymers for the composite building-panel industry. Used mainly in outdoor siding and indoor curtain walls, these typically have a high density polyethylene core.

One of the firm's more interesting developments has been a frangible pouch — with two compartments, divided by a burstable seal made of Surlyn iomer resin.

"Even with the force of a child's hand," said Outhous, a user "can squeeze that package and bring some clean water and some nutritional food together so that they can consume that food. It's been very popular, as an example of really trying to feed the world."

First introduced in Mexico about 18 months ago, the product has been well-received, and it's being tested now in other Latin American markets. DuPont is seeking local partners, he said, noting that it takes government involvement, too, because it is essentially an effort to feed the poor.

Kant said DuPont is working to apply the same concept to other products — combining a liquid with a dry product, to create some fun products. Brand owners are intrigued by the possibilities, he suggested. The company declined to provide any more details about the pouch, saying it is still a developmental program.

Also very popular now are easy-open, peelable structures, as well as reclosable packaging, Kant said.

Hanck noted that packaging product development, while often driven by the end-user industries, also is compounded by the introduction of more-sophisticated machinery that requires more-sophisticated resins in order to get all the value of the new equipment in terms of productivity, down-gauging, and the like.

"We often develop together with the machinery maker," Hanck said. "The faster, thinner you go, the more important it is to be able to work together."

That is exactly why DuPont put a nine-layer pilot line into its packaging and industrial polymers development lab at the firm's Wilmington, Del., headquarters facility late last year.

"When you get to the nine layers," Outhous said, "the adhesive layers become more and more challenging, as those structures have to do more. As [Hanck] mentioned, down-gauging is also key in that, so you really have to have the right combination of layers to get the barriers, sealing and adhesion. We wanted to work more closely with our customers on this."

DuPont also has a nine-layer line in its Shanghai technical center, as well seven-layer pilot lines in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Japan. "So we have a global network of laboratories," Outhous said. "Given the advanced resins we provide, this is a nice marriage of equipment, resin and the needs of the consumer."

Kant noted the ever-present theme in the packaging industry of striving to do more with coextrusion as a technology to make packaging structures that are more complex but that can do a better job with less material. "That really empowers our business," he said.

Outhous noted DuPont's current slogan of "Welcome to the Global Collaboratory."

"In the world today," he said, "with the speed at which things are changing, nobody [in the value chain] can do it by themselves. It really takes the whole chain working together."


Comments

DuPont execs talk packaging, innovation and collaboration

By Robert Grace
Associate Publisher & Business Development Director

Published: June 10, 2013 12:09 pm ET
Updated: June 10, 2013 12:12 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Inteplast expands in corrugated sheet with Coroplast deal

August 21, 2014 5:28 pm ET

Packaging major Inteplast Group has acquired its main competitor in corrugated plastic sheet, Coroplast Inc. Inteplast gets corrugated sheet plants...    More

Image

NanoHolding, Applied Nanotech merge to form PEN Inc.

August 21, 2014 4:44 pm ET

Nanotechnology firms NanoHolding Inc. and Applied Nanotech Holdings Inc. are merging to create PEN Inc., a publicly held firm whose product mix will...    More

Image

Report predicts growth for flexible packaging

August 21, 2014 12:34 pm ET

Flexible packaging in the United States grew last year and is expected to continue to grow this year, according to a new report by the Flexible...    More

Image

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Image

Tree Armor: The buck stops here

August 20, 2014 12:17 pm ET

Pennsylvania farmer Jim Saunders pitched his idea for a vinyl wrap to protect tree trunks from deer to U.S. processors in five states but no one would...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events