The Chinese government's economic stimulus efforts, including incentives for clean energy, are helping to drive new business at Bruckner Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.
The maker of plastic film stretching lines reported a record level of customer orders in 2009, with the vast majority coming from Chinese film manufacturers aided by their government's moves to ease credit and encourage capital investment, according to sales director Markus Gschwandtner.
He claims the Siegsdorf, Germany-based firm has good prospects for 2010, and already has booked a good chunk of its projected 2011 sales.
In an April 22 interview at Chinaplas in Shanghai, Gschwandtner also noted that the market's focus has shifted, from machinery for packaging films made from biaxially oriented PET and biaxially oriented polypropylene to what he called industrial-grade PET films. By that, he is referring specifically to BOPET solar back sheets, used to protect solar panels from ultraviolet radiation.
Chinese government incentives to adopt solar power are driving demand for such products and prompting film makers on the mainland to invest in the equipment needed to make solar panels, in an effort to compete with more established producers in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Typically, Gschwandtner said, BOPP packaging film is 12-60 microns thick and BOPET packaging film is 8-36 microns thick. The type of film needed for solar-panel applications runs 150-250 microns thick, which requires a different machinery approach.
The next step, he said, is BOPET optical films, which are up to 400 microns thick and find use in the layers that make up the liquid crystal displays on cell phones and computer monitors. Such film layers serve various functions, including polarizing, enhancing brightness, and diffusing and reflecting light.
Meantime, the demand for packaging film continues, he noted. Longtime Bruckner customer Jiangsu Suqian Color Plastic Packing Co. Ltd., in Suqian, China, recently ordered two more of Bruckner's BOPET lines its fifth and sixth and the latter of those machines features a twin-screw extruder for the main film layer. This configuration, common in BOPP lines but newer in BOPET lines, offers reduced energy consumption and allows for in-line feedback of the edge trim, eliminating the extra step of having to regranulate it.
Gschwandtner said Bruckner also saw increased business activity late last year for lines that make biaxially oriented nylon (BOPA) film and cast polypropylene film. In fact, the Chinese company Zhejiang Great Southeast Packaging Co. Ltd. in Hangzhou last December broadened its product line by buying what Gschwandtner described as likely the largest cast PP film line in China. The multimillion-dollar machine offers a lay-on width of 21.3 feet and a net width of 20.3 feet. This was that firm's second Bruckner cast PP line. Great Southeast also runs some of the German company's BOPP and BOPET equipment.
He said that Chinese customers particularly appreciate the latest cast PP lines' lower energy consumption (down 10-15 percent from previous models).
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