Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022 - 3

SHOW DAILY
Plastics News, October 20, 2022 * 3
Windmöller & Hölscher KG is
running three live blown fi lm
demonstrations each day at
K 2022, while simultaneously
running one cast and fi ve blown
fi lm lines at its Expo 2022 open
house in nearby Lengerich.
Plastics News photo by Marco Stepniak
W&H looks for
easier options
for blown fi lm
By David Vink
Plastics News Correspondent
Windmöller & Hölscher KG
has managed well during the
COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining
its traditional long-term growth
by increasing annual sales from
€901 million in 2019 to €968
million in 2021. The producer
of blown and cast fi lm extruders
and fl exographic printers is
based in Lengerich, Germany,
and has 3,221 employees.
At K 2022, the company is
running three live blown fi lm
demonstrations each day, while
simultaneously running one cast
and fi ve blown fi lm lines at its
Expo 2022 open house in nearby
Lengerich.
Dominique
Alhäuser, corporate
communications manager,
explained that increasing remote
access to customers' machines
was key to growth during the
pandemic. Once a gateway has
been opened, the customer has
to grant access to W&H before it
can adjust process parameters.
There is also a visual service assistant
app since 2019, enabling
processors to show W&H via a
video feed which controls are in
operation or need activation.
But both Alhäuser and Lennart
Ederleh, blown fi lm machinery
technical sales director,
stressed that digital communication
can never replace direct
person-to-person communication.
This is not always easy to
achieve against a background of
increasing diffi culty in fi nding
new employees and challenges
in developing new fi lm solutions.
At K, W&H is focused on
meeting challenges within a circular
economy loop. Ederleh
explained that while effi cient
production with high degrees
of automation and digitalization
contributes to sustainability
through lower scrap rates, it is
important to discuss packaging
design for mechanical recycling,
in view also of lot-to-lot variability
when using recycled content.
Ederleh also referred to replacing
multimaterial with monomaterial
solutions that remain suitable
for food packaging by having
oxygen barriers. The task is not
easy, as most barrier materials
are not considered recyclable,
Ederleh said, adding that EU regulations
do not permit more than
5 percent of foreign substances
in recycled fi lm.
This has been a problem,
with some specialty films needing
much more than 5 percent
content. A research project
with BASF started looking at
compatibilzer use, in order to
at least enable film with nylon
barriers to be recycled into injection
molding applications.
But this approach can now also
apply to film-to-film recycling,
Ederleh advised, if not yet for
food contact.
There are ways to get round
the 5 percent limit. W&H established
that stretching fi lm with
machine direction orientation
alone contributes to some barrier
improvement and Ederleh
talked about stretching with
use of a thin coextruded EVOH
layer, well within the 5 percent
limit, as well as using W&H fl exographic
printing expertise to
print a PVOH barrier.
Alhäuser stressed: " Using less
layers doesn't necessarily mean
less materials, and less layers is
not a prerequisite for recyclability.
People get confused, thinking
that if you only have one material,
it means only one layer.
As we showed at K 2019 and now
again at K 2022, the fi lms shown
all have more layers in order to
provide the functionality you require
for the packaging. "
Ederleh expanded on this
by saying: " When it comes to
three-layer fi lm, we clearly see
that the playground you are getting
in terms of recipe optimization
and fi lm properties is larger
with fi ve layers, and that benefi
ts high functionality and recycled
material introduction into
the fi lm structure.
" When it comes to a larger
number of layers, we are typically
talking about barrier fi lm and
then in the past these were PA
[nylon] or EVOH barrier layers,
which needed more than seven,
or more than nine
layers in some cases, "
he said.
Ederleh's opinion
is that as there is
demand for high-barrier
applications in
the market, multimaterial
and multilayer
structures will not
completely disappear from the
packaging market. But W&H also
talks about and researches into
monomaterial solutions with
industry partners, especially in
terms of recyclability.
Ederleh says W&H is investigating
how much post-consumer
recyclate can be used in industrial
and nonfood-contact packaging
fi lm and has managed to
produce 50 percent PCR-content
collation shrink fi lm with the
same thickness, properties and
functionality as conventionally
used virgin plastic fi lm.
" The fi lm gives perfect mechanical
properties, but there
are some minor optical defects.
In fact, a small amount of haze
and gel irregularity here and
there is often wanted and can be
a sales argument for brands to
show they use recycled material.
It's not necessarily something
to avoid, as it can be a sign of a
sustainability, " he said.
A bottle six-pack at the booth
is on shown wrapped with 50 percent
post-consumer recyclate PE
shrink fi lm, production of which
runs on an Optimex II
line
in
WINDMÖLLER &
HÖLSCHER KG
Hall 17,
Booth A57
Lengerich, supported by a Novoflex
fl exographic printer. Alhäuser
said Optimex is an optimized line
for PE that produces three- and
fi ve-layer fi lm in widths up to 2.6
meters, while the larger Varex II
can produce fi lms with seven to
11 layers up to 3.6 meters, observing,
" It can do anything and can be
more easily tailored
to different applications. "
The
Varex II at K
is demonstrating
fast product changeover
via a new Easy2Change
system.
Each live demonstration
at K shows
stration at K shows
how product changeover can be
easily made within 7 minutes,
from 35 to 70 microns, despite
20 components such as slip
agents being used in the recipe.
Ederleh said the K demonstration
also shows downgauging to
35 microns, as collation shrink
fi lm is usually produced in 40
micron thickness. But he added,
" Downgauging to 35 microns is
not presently possible with the
50 percent PCR PE fi lm running in
Lengerich. "

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022

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Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022 - 1
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