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How extrusion puts some sparkle in the holidays

Christmas tree image by Matthew Paul Argall
From PVC film and filaments for flame-retardant Christmas trees to the shrink wrap on turkeys, Allan Griff counts the ways that extrusion applications make the season merry and bright.

Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean we have to stop being thankful. In fact, Christmas is just as good a reason to be thankful—for the people with whom we share the holidays; for the good we can do for others, and vice versa; for the celebration of the meek and the mild rather than the celebrities; and for our good fortune in having materials such as plastics that save energy, protect our food and our bodies, transmit our water, power and fuel, and allow creative artistic expression in style and function.

Image courtesy Matthew Paul Argall/flickr.

And since this is an extrusion column, I’ll remind you of some season-related extrusion applications for which we should be thankful:

  • Insulation for all the wiring for lights; 
  • PVC film and filaments for flame-retardant Christmas trees and other foliage; 
  • foamed PP ribbons for sparkly bows on packages;
  • tough and leak-proof bags to carry home all the things we buy; 
  • shrink wrap on Christmas-dinner turkeys and zip-lock bags for the leftovers; 
  • thermoformed PP/PET pots for flowers and plants that grace our malls, offices and homes; 
  • bubble-wrap for fragile presents; 
  • extrusion-blowmolded tree ornaments; 
  • PE-coated paperboard for eggnog cartons;
  • tinsel made from metallized OPP and OPET film;     
  • textile fibers for doll hair, Santa Claus hats and uniforms, gifts of clothing;
  • the PVC credit cards we use to pay for all the stuff we don’t need (OK, I know it’s calendered, but probably fed by an extruder-compounder);
  • PE film wraps on the catalogs that already have flooded our mailboxes;
  • post office tote boxes made of corrugated HDPE to carry things; and 
  • OPP film strips used to make Santa's waterproof, snow-proof and chimney-proof toy sack.  

And the gifts themselves? Anyone still give hula-hoops?

So don’t let anyone tell you that we’d be better off without extrusion, and by extension, without plastics. Ask them if they think we’d be better off without Christmas. I, for one, am happy (and merry) that we have both.

Allan Griff is a veteran extrusion engineer, starting out in tech service for a major resin supplier, and working on his own now for many years as a consultant, expert witness in law cases and especially as an educator via webinars and seminars, both public and in-house. He wrote the first practical extrusion book back in the 1960s as well as the Plastics Extrusion Operating Manual, updated almost every year, and available in Spanish and French as well as English. Find out more on his website,, or e-mail him at [email protected].

Griff will present live seminars in Toronto on Jan. 9 and Chicago on Jan. 23. If you can’t attend these live events, he offers a Virtual Seminar, which can be seen at any time, any place. E-mail Griff at the address listed above for more information.

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