Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Westpack exhibition, held Sept. 23-25 in Anaheim, Calif.
Vifan BOPP facility to open in spring
Vifan Canada Inc.'s second polypropylene extrusion plant is on schedule to begin operating in April.
The 250,000-square-foot facility, in Morristown, Tenn., will have capacity for at least 75 million pounds of biaxially oriented PP films, said Bona Chevarie, vice president of sales and marketing for Vifan Canada.
``The technology on this machine is speed-oriented,'' he said.
Vifan contracted for the design and manufacture of the ``new technology'' machine in Europe. Morristown will start with 100 employees.
Vifan's 130,000-square-foot plant in Lanoraie, Quebec, employs about 110 and has capacity for 50 million pounds of PP. Vifan opened the Canadian facility in 1991 to complement parent Vibac Finanziaria SpA's Potenza and L'Aquila, Italy, production sites.
Chevarie said about 75 percent of Vifan Canada production goes to converters for food packaging and it uses about 15 percent for industrial applications. About 10 percent is used at sister company Vibac, which makes packaging tapes at a 65,000-square-foot plant in Montreal.
Vifan Canada also has begun toll-metalizing film in-house, to supply snack food packagers, Chevarie said. ``We plan to grow that business,'' he added.
In Morristown, Vifan will regrind its waste polymers and sell the material to processors.
Apple & Orange adds cast stretch-film line
In August, Apple & Orange Plastics Inc. began operating a new Gloucester cast-film extrusion line in its Compton, Calif., plant, said Gary Duboff, president.
Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. supplied a $3 million line capable of extruding 3,000 pounds of stretch film an hour. The line has a 6-inch extruder, two 31/2-inch units and a 120-inch flat line and complements the firm's blown-film line.
Apple & Orange recorded 1996 sales of $82 million and processed 95 million pounds of resin. Duboff said the firm is on track to extrude more than 100 million pounds in 1998.
Apple Plastics in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., makes garment, produce and dry cleaning bags, mostly of linear low density polyethylene. Orange Plastics in Compton makes T-shirt and merchandise bags, trash liners and pallet wrap. They employ 225.
Uni-Chains to make side-flexing belts
Uni-Chains Manufacturing Inc. plans by November to launch side-flexing versions of its conveyor belts.
``Traditionally, the modular plastic belting end of our business has been straight running conveyors, but there is a great demand for side flexing,'' said Lars Secher, sales director for Uni-Chains in Reading, Pa.
The new version ``can get away with one drive'' while conventional systems ``will have several motors and gearboxes'' for ``basically two conveyor belts,'' he said.
Applications include any manufacturing plant that needs ``to move product around a plant and not in a straight line.''
Secher said he expects pricing to be competitive with existing systems.
The turning radius of the side-flexing unit will be twice the belt width. Uni-Chains makes belts mainly from acetal, polypropylene and polyethylene.
In-house testing is taking place in the tooling department at parent Uni-Chains International A/S in Vejle, Denmark.
The company employs 200, including about 20 workers at the automated 50,000-square-foot plant in Reading.
Flambeau sales jump with Japan exports
Exports of large blow molded panels to Japan are boosting sales and stretching facility needs at Flambeau Airmold Corp.
The customer uses the panels as enclosures for portable toilets, housing, guard sheds, ticket booths and showers, said Keith Watson, operations manager for the firm's Redlands, Calif., plant. He also is responsible for sales of Flambeau's complete line of blow molded and injection molded products in 11 Western states.
One core line is an Infinity series of carrying cases, updated recently with new latches, handles and sizes and blow molded both in Redlands and at Flambeau Airmold's other plant, in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
The dollar-yen exchange rate makes it ``cheaper to make [the panels] over here, even with freight and import duty,'' Watson said. A new 250-ton Sterling press with a 75-pound shot size, operational in April, blow molds the parts 7-8 feet long and 3 feet wide.
The 78,000-square-foot Redlands plant has nine blow molding machines, and will add a 10th machine that is being relocated from Madison, Ga. It employs 80.
Watson projected 1997 sales of $7 million. By spring 1999, Flambeau Airmold's sales should reach $10 million, largely because of the panel business, he said.
In April 1994, Flambeau Corp. of Baraboo, Wis., part of the Nordic Group, acquired W.R. Grace & Co.'s Airmold blow molding operation.
Tri-Seal liner uses oxygen scavengers
Tri-Seal International Inc. exhibited a closure lining material that uses Amoco Chemical Co.'s Amosorb oxygen scavengers to preserve the freshness and shelf life of foods and beverages.
Packagers use oxygen scavengers because product contents might change ``if a formulation is taking more sugar or more preservatives because of oxygen transmission getting into the package'' or ``if you have something pulling out oxygen,'' said Richard McKenna, Tri-Seal vice president of sales
The liner, known as Tri-sO2rb, helps control oxygen transmission into a package and can absorb oxygen in the head space of the package, McKenna said.
Also, Tri-Seal exhibited a polyethylene naphthalate liner, using film from ICI Polyester, to help retain flavor and fragrance and enhance chemical resistance and thermal properties in capping food and beverage containers, he said. PEN barrier liners are useful to bottlers converting from glass to PET because line speeds are much faster and transportation and corrugation costs are cut, he said.
Tri-Seal employs about 140, operates 21 extrusion lines at its Blauvelt, N.Y., facility and had 1996 sales of $20.3 million.