Walk down the aisle of any big-box store, and you can see food containers, storage boxes, plastic glasses and pitchers boasting their glasslike appearance.
Everybody is focused on shelf appeal, and that clear look really pops, said Jason Eckel, market manager for thin-wall rigid packaging and durables with Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich.
Now Dow and Milliken Chemical of Spartanburg, S.C., have teamed up to introduce the Agility NX line of clear polypropylene to give brand owners and molders more material options on clear plastics.
What we've been able to do here is to help our customers look at what is out there and tweak what they're offering and be more competitive, Eckel said in a March 6 interview at the International Home + Housewares show in Chicago.
The Agility line is geared at housewares and packaging uses, with its first products coming onto the market now. Molder F&M Tool & Plastics Inc. of Leominster, Mass., is launching its new line of Bella NX storage containers using Agility, and others will be introduced through the coming months, he said.
The Milliken clarifier used in the Agility line stands out among other PP blends that claim to be clear but are cloudy in comparison, according to Brian Burkhart, global market manager for Milliken's PP clarifiers. The improvement gives molders more low-cost options, and the ability to stick with a familiar material.
Being able to take 10 percent or so out of the cost in comparison to some of the other materials is a big thing, he said. Then you've got the impact of lower energy cost in the press, which lends itself to improved cycle times, and it adds up.
Molders can also easily drop Agility material into existing molds and processes, Eckel said.
Clear products are growing faster than the standard PP material, Burkhart said. Now they're going to have another opportunity to use PP.
The companies are developing other Agility lines for use in other processes and other industries, and expect to introduce them soon, Eckel said.