MAURICEVILLE, TEXAS-Just weeks after putting what it claims is the world's fastest cast film line into production, Chapparal Films said March 19 it has signed a letter of intent to duplicate that production line at a joint venture in Mexico City. Chapparal in mid-February started its second production line at its Mauriceville facility in eastern Texas, near Louisiana.
The line uses five extruders -two 41/2-inch, 30-to-1 extruders, and three 21/2-inch, 30-to-1 extruders. It also incorporates a Glou-cester Model 1002DS in-line slitting winder with a servo-driven turret index drive that positions 20-inch rolls into the winding position in one second, to produce a 0.60-mil, five-layer film at speeds to 1,920 feet per minute. Battenfeld Gloucester Engineer-ing Co. Inc. of Gloucester, Mass., supplied the equipment.
Cloeren Co. of Orange, Texas, supplied Chapparal's five-layer, 145-inch die for the line, and a dual-chamber vacuum box that the firm said enhances line speed.
In an interview March 19 at Chapparal's facility, Robert Weeks, vice president for sales and marketing for Battenfeld Gloucester, said the new line increases production speeds by 20 percent over a similar, five-layer line installed at Chapparal in 1995.
``This is the fastest cast film line for stretch film in the world,'' Weeks said.
Beyond that claim, Weeks added that Chapparal is the only commercial producer of five-layer stretch film, at least for now.
Vice President Jack Tindel Jr. said his company is using resins made with metallocene catalyst technology to improve puncture resistance and clarity in its films. Also, Tindel said metallocene resins reduce noise levels when films are being unrolled.
Tindel said Chapparal is producing films that can stretch three times beyond their relaxed dimensions while retaining the increased puncture resistance and clarity. Further, he said his company is not using cling modifiers in its films.
The prestretch performance is affected by good process control, while the films' other performance characteristics - im-proved load resistance and clarity, increased puncture resistance, and improved cling capacities - are affected by polymer technologies, Tindel said.
While he would not describe the exact film structure Chap-paral is using, Peter Cloeren, president of Cloeren Co., said Chapparal is combining standard linear low density polyethylene resins with metallocene LLDPE and standard, high-pressure LDPE to produce its films. The LDPE is extruded on the films' edges to improve draw down and enhance edge pinning, Cloeren said.
Cloeren said different film structures - alternating metallocene resins with conventional resins within the roll - could produce different performance characteristics.
He pointed out that markets for stretch films are highly competitive, and metallocene resins demand a price premium of 3-5 cents per pound over conventional LLDPE and LDPE resins, so Chapparal is trying to optimize the benefits of metallocene resins while minimizing the costs.
Tindel indicated Chapparal may apply for patents for its products, but he declined to be specific about how or when the company may do so.
His company is targeting its five-layer films at applications such as wrapping rolls of paper and coils of steel, where the films' improved puncture resistance would help protect the products.
Tindel said Chapparal can supply film adequately to most of the United States, Canada and Mexico from its 50,000-square-foot Mau-riceville plant, but shipping costs make transporting films to New England and far West less competitive.
The firm has ordered the equipment from Battenfeld Gloucester to install at a facility in Mexico City later this year, he said.
Tindel would not identify the Mexican partner for the joint venture, but said it is an established firm with experience in processing plastic, but not in producing stretch films.
That Mexican joint venture is to be in production by the end of the third quarter, Tindel said. It will produce stretch films for markets in Mexico, he added.