BOPP equipment vendors converge on Chinaplas


The recent Chinaplas played host to three suppliers of BOPP and BOPET film lines, making for lively sales activity and market discussion after a period of relative dominance by a single market player. The only absentee was Japanese equipment vendor JSW (Tokyo),

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ESOPP joined two other BOPP/BOPET extrusion line vendors at Chinaplas, generating lively discussion throughout the film halls.

Current market leader in terms of shipments Brückner Maschinenbau (Siegsdorf, Germany) reported continued strong investment in China for BOPP film lines. "We saw orders for the industry as a whole of 450,000 tonnes/year of processing capacity over the past two years, which translates to 10-111 new lines," says Brückner sales director Markus Gschwandtner."In 2010, supply and demand were well balanced in China but this recent investment will push the BOPP market into overcapacity," he notes.

The BOPP investment cycle in China is around three years according to Brückner, but extended lead times of up to two years for equipment delivery mean capacity addition and demand are often out of sync. "The Chinese Government's stimulus in 2009, and a cheap Euro and availability of industrial land in 2010 enticed processors to invest," adds Gschwandtner.

Brückner also sees renewed investment in BOPP capacity in Vietnam as a possibility. "The interest rate is forecast to fall from a peak of around 25% and this could stimulate investment."

Market observers are also forecasting a crash in the BOPET market in the fourth quarter of this year. Gschwandtner says film prices in China have fallen from a high of $5 per kg down to $2.40-2.50 already and new capacity coming on stream later in the year may place further downward pressure on prices. BOPET capacity in China was pegged at around 1 million tons in mid 2010 but Gschwandtner reports that there is currently 1.2 million tonnes/year of additional capacity under construction and due on stream soon.

The newcomer to the BOPP arena goes by the acronym ESOPP, for energy saving orientation production process, and was established by former DMT owner Jean-Pierre Darlet (the "D" in DMT) in Lyon, France, in April 2010. In its product literature, ESOPP claims "unique expertise accumulated over 30 years with more than 100 projects worldwide."

ESOPP's most recent developments focus on energy conservation. "The processing of film is energy-intensive and we have developed a patented system to recover and reuse heat from the TDO section back into the MDO section," says Darlet. ESOPP has also developed new clips for stretching PET that can realize a BOPET film with zero shrinkage in both directions. "This is particularly important for BOPET film used in solar applications," says Darlet.

ESOPP says it has also come up with a solution to solve the bane of film processors ‑ long lead times - and ensure that they get capacity up and running when the market is at its peak. "We have preferential supply agreements with several key component vendors such as extruder and roll suppliers and we can deliver a line in less than a year," says Darlet.

ESOPP says it has three lines due for delivery in China at present, while market observers reports two lines for delivery to Turkish processors.

Bankrupted DMT was acquired by Andritz AG (Graz, Austria) in May 2010, which gained access to assets, patents and drawings, and now operates out of two locations in Europe (France and Austria) as well as Foshan in Southern China.

Eric Weitgasser, Biax Film Technology senior vice president says, "Core components for China production are sourced from Europe, while mechanical components such as the TDO frame are manufactured locally."

Andritz currently has eight lines on its books for delivery of BOPP and BOPET lines to Europe, the Middle East, South America and China, with initial deliveries scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011. "The line bound for Europe is a simultaneous stretching line," says Weitgasser, who deferred to comment on the establishment of ESOPP, save to say that, "We have acquired the DMT patents and technology and will vigorously enforce our position."-[email protected]

 

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