Guangzhou, China — ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Fujian-based blown-film machine maker Huashan Plastics Machinery Co. Ltd. demonstrated a thrifty solution to packaging consumer products in "soft-shrink" packaging film at Chinaplas.
Traditionally, soft-shrink film has been fabricated with "double-bubble" technology, a delicate process that requires expensive machinery, said Alecia Crown, ExxonMobil global PE new product launch manager. The new, three-layer, single-bubble solution pairs Exxon's Exceed XP polymer with Quanzhou, Fujian-based Huashan's less-costly blown-film machinery, resulting in greater per-hour productivity of film with less waste.
"The output is about 50 percent higher," said Ronny Shen, senior technical advisor associate with Shanghai-based ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Research & Development Co. Ltd.
Soft-shrink packaging can extend the shelf life of a cucumber from three to 14 days, Crown said, but protecting produce, pizza, meat, cheeses and other food items present a major technical challenge.
Said ExxonMobil global market development manager Olivier Lorge: "You have to be gentle and be able to follow the curve of the broccoli but not smash it. You also to be able to soft-shrink at a low enough temperature so that you're not cooking the food product."
To maintain shelf appeal, soft-shrink film must be clear, with significant dart, puncture and tear resistance and tensile strength. ExxonMobil says the Exceed XP solution delivers on these consumer expectations while supporting downgauging, or thinner film.
Other packaging include household tissues and irregularly shaped products such as office supplies and air filters.
Another potential market: China's booming agricultural sector. "[Exceed XP] is extremely valuable for greenhouse film, which is a very large market segment in China," Crown said.
Agricultural films made with Exceed XP are extremely tough, with high melt strength and outstanding tear strength, the company said.
At Chinaplas, ExxonMobil's polymers were deployed on blown-film machines from Sun Centre Machinery Co. Ltd., Han King Plastic Machinery Co. Ltd., Jinming Machinery (Guangdong) Co. Ltd. , Bandera Luigi Costruzioni Meccaniche SPA and Windmoeller & Hoelscher KG and a Jinming cast-film machine. Engel Holding GmbH ran ExxonMobil's ICP PP resin in an injection molding demonstration making automotive parts.
ExxonMobil plans to mark Chinaplas 2018 with an open house to celebrate the multi-million-dollar expansion of the company's Shanghai Technology Center, Crown said. The current 27,000-square-meter facility, which opened in 2011, houses a variety of analytical and testing laboratory equipment and commercial equipment for injection molding, blown film extrusion, profile extrusion and compounding.
"We're expanding it to provide more space for collaboration with customers," Crown said. "Our customers can run trials on our lines instead of stopping their production units."