The following items were reported by correspondent Roger Renstrom from the WestPack '95 exhibition, held Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, Calif.
Dow Plastics is manufacturing its polyethylene Ethafoam plank and sheet products with Rapid-Release process technology that uses an isobutane blowing agent and accelerated curing system. Dow displayed samples at WestPack.
``The technology reduces the level of residual blowing agent to trace amounts that do not produce a flammable concentration,'' said Mark Weick, research and development manager.
Fabricators and end-users benefit from better handling, safety and efficiency without special shipping, handling, storage and fabrication considerations.
Beginning in 1960, Dow used the blowing agent CFC-114, a ``hard'' chlorofluorocarbon, in making Ethafoam. In 1990, Dow adopted the ``soft'' HCFC-142b. The Clean Air Act of 1990 phased out HCFC-142b in most PE foams, and the blend of iso-butane and HFC-152a required special handling to reduce the flammability risk.
Dow's system omits CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs, and a perforation technology accelerates curing of plank products. Dow began converting to the technology this summer, has shipped product to authorized fabricators and original equipment manufacturers and expects to complete conversion by Jan. 1.
Dow Plastics, a business group of Dow Chemical Co., manufactures Ethafoam plank and sheet products at plants in Hanging Rock, Ohio, and Drusenheim, France, and markets the material for packaging of products such as electronic and military equipment.
The global PE foam market consumes about 1 billion board feet per year with an estimated value of $300 million, Weick said.
Xpander Pak offers lightweight shipper
Xpander Pak Inc. displayed its protective polyurethane shipper at WestPack as a lightweight alternative to corrugated containers, cushioned wrap and void-fill materials for items up to 10 pounds.
PU foam walls withstand multiple drops, and exteriors of reinforced coextruded high density and low density polyethylene film and nylon provide box-like rigidity.
Xpander Pak has added an electrostatic-dissipative shipper to prevent puncture damage and static electricity build-up on electronic equipment. The shipper has an integrated metalized inner layer and a static-dissipative outer layer.
The shipper reduces container weight by several ounces. The Postal Service carries the shipper as an optional packaging product.
Xpander Pak, based in Glen Allen, Va., employs 27 and manufactures the shippers in a 20,000-square-foot facility in Lathrop, Calif., and a 40,000-square-foot plant in Richmond, Va. Company officials said the firm may add a Midwest manu-
facturing site, possibly in early 1997.
Sun Coast targets new closure markets
Sun Coast Closures is moving into new food packaging markets with its technology for making close-tolerance polypropylene closures.
Sun Coast achieved a tolerance of plus or minus 0.002 inch on 95 percent of all of its closure production in 1994, minimizing a variable for bottlers, said Peter Lennox, vice president of sales and marketing. The Closure Manufacturers Association's standard allows a variation of plus or minus 0.007 inch, and some suppliers in this segment use a tolerance of plus or minus 0.010 inch.
Nestle's Juicy Juice, Procter & Gamble's Hawaiian Punch, Tree Top Inc. apple juice and others have used more than a billion of the Sun Coast closures since their introduction in 1991.
``Next, we will enter other food markets such as dressings and sauces,'' Lennox said in an interview at WestPack.
Sun Coast Closures employs 150, generates annual sales of about $30 million and occupies 130,000 square feet for manufacturing and warehousing in Sarasota, Fla. Sun Coast Closures is a division of Dallas-based Sun Coast Industries Inc.
Star Container has wide-mouth PET jars
Star Container Co. introduced a ``decorator series'' of clear, wide-mouth PET containers at WestPack. The containers can accommodate personalized designs on each of four side panels.
Jars are made from molds with removable design plates. The series includes 48-ounce and 24-ounce sizes with plans for adding a 64-ounce version.
Founded in 1986, Star Container employs 100 and manufactures injection stretch blow molded PET containers at plants in Phoenix and Edinburgh, Ind. Star Container is a division of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Tech Group.
Servall Packaging Industries Inc. displayed interactive packaging that uses light-and-sound technologies in the design and manufacturing of clamshells, clam packs, blister-card packaging and video albums.
``By adding blinking lights or an audio message directly onto the product package, we create added excitement on the store shelf,'' said Scott Martineau, Servall president. ``If a product can appeal to sight, sound and touch, there is a higher probability of success.''
Servall packages feature sound, light
Servall builds a cavity into the plastic to conceal electronic components. Lithium batteries will keep a light blinking for up to 10 weeks. Servall can activate the light in the packaging process or include a switch that allows others in the distribution chain to start the blinking.
Product-launch or promotional audio messages can range from 5 seconds to 15 seconds and can be activated with motion or light sensors or a mechanical switch, using hidden cavities or small flaps.
Servall Packaging Industries employs 200, operates a 90,000-square-foot plant in Torrance, Calif., and reports annual sales of more than $10 million.
Carpenter Co. shows foam-in-place bags
Carpenter Co.'s Packaging Division of Richmond, Va., demonstrated its foam-in-place method at WestPack.
The ProTech EZ-Packer system dispenses a medium-density urethane foam into premade high density polyethylene bags to produce ready-made foam cushions, endcaps and void fill.
The system consists of a dispenser and bag holder; a pump, motor, air regulator and temperature controller with integral diagnostics; and two cylinders supplying chemicals that blend to form the foam. Seven bag sizes allow filling up to 3.5 cubic feet.
Output is rated at 17 bags per minute.
System ends wetness in big containers
United Desiccants has introduced a system combining plastic liners and moisture-absorbing desiccant bags as a way to combat condensation in containers during transport by truck, ship, air or rail.
``Product protection against high humidity is a constant problem,'' Karen Knight-Wilburn, industrial products manager, said at WestPack, ``but moisture, mold, mildew and odors are eliminated with the plastic liner and Container Dri desiccant bags.''
The liner prevents water transmission and air diffusion, while the desiccant bags absorb any condensation and moisture. One person can clip the liner to the edges of a container or trailer and evacuate the air between the liner and container sides. Desiccant bags are placed around the contents, and the liner is tied off and sealed. The system costs $1,400-$3,000 initially and averages about $40 for a 48-foot container.
United Desiccants is based in Louisville, Ky., manufactures desiccants and absorbents at a plant in Belen, N.M. It is a unit of Sud-Chemie Group, based in Saint-Mammes, France.