Privately held packaging firm Appleton Paper Inc. is investing more than $5 million to expand a subsidiary's plant in Milton, Wis.
The New England Extrusion Inc. plant is adding a Reifenhauser coextrusion line that can produce three-layer film as wide as 106 inches. It also is adding 11,800 square feet of manufacturing space to house the new line, which can produce 10 million pounds of film annually.
Appleton is targeting mid-February to start production.
The film, made primarily of polyethylene, will supply customers in industrial, food and health-care segments in North America.
``We are making the investment and adding the wide line capability as part of Appleton's growth plan The expansion is creating a handful of jobs and will include training of current employees.
The Milton facility houses four film extrusion lines, including the new line. It employs about 25 at present. Total annual capacity is 20 million pounds.
NEX currently can make films up to eight layers thick and 96 inches wide.
Appleton is rebranding its film businesses - including New England Extrusion and American Plastics - into Appleton Performance Packaging Films Group, Grobe said. NEX's other manufacturing facility is in Turners Falls, Mass., where NEX is based.
The films business represents about 10 percent of Appleton's overall sales, which were $1.05 billion for fiscal 2005 and $810.1 million for the first nine months of 2006.
During the first three quarters of last year, the film division saw sales growth of 18 percent, substantially higher than the company's overall growth of 4.2 percent. The third-quarter report cited ``stronger orders from existing customers and higher selling prices'' as the drive for the plastics-related sales growth. Operating income nearly doubled ``due to strong sales growth and improved expense control.''
Appleton, Wis.-based Appleton Paper is looking at other locations for expansion, ``as always,'' Grobe said, but she disclosed no details.