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Extrusion towers over Feiplastic, Brazilian plastics market

Attendees at Feiplastic 2013 could be excused for craning their necks skyward at the Anhembi Convention Center last week, as the show hall was packed with rafter-scraping film towers: a testament to the importance of the extrusion market in Brazil and its homegrown machinery prowess within the segment.

Several of those domestic players used the event to throw their hats into the co-extrusion ring, debuting three-layer lines at the biennial event. Greater adoption of high performing, and higher cost, metallocene-based resins has pushed many local processors to adopt multilayer film structures that allow cheaper material to be sandwiched between pricier materials, boosting film performance while managing costs.

"Raw materials are changing," said Wilson Carnevalli Filho, son to the founder of the longstanding extrusion equipment supplier of the same name. "Now we have a lot of technology, and you can improve the price of a package."

Carnevalli ran three blown-film lines at the event, including two 3-layer coextrusion lines, supporting a market it first entered in 1995. "In Brazil, all of the films were monolayer, but that's changing," Carnevalli said, with local processors that adopt coextrusion often starting out with a small line. Carnevalli said his company has produced up to 9-layer systems, with a 7-layer Carnevalli fabricated die also in its Feiplastic stand.

Rulli Standard, a 53-year-old supplier of extrusion equipment and former Brazil partner for Davis-Standard, launched a new 3-layer coextrusion line dubbed Spartacus at the show. Luis Carlos Rulli, son of the company founder who emigrated to Brazil from Italy, said the system's extruders feature screw diameters of 103, 70, and 70 mm, with a line width of up to 450 mm. The Spartacus utilizes a veer die and can reach outputs of 800 kg/hr, according to Rulli.

"There is a lot of demand in Latin American for shrink film, stretch hoods, and technical films," Rulli said, with higher output systems targeting shrink films, a segment that consumes 40% of its business. Rulli said his company is currently investing in development of automated sheet extrusion lines, including a 5-layer system for yogurt cups. "Two and 3-layer extrusion systems are good fro Brazil right now," Rulli said, "but that's changing."

 

HGR Extrusoras, which celebrates its 20th year in business in 2013, also showed a new 3-layer line at Feiplastic. Ricardo Rodrigues, commercial director, grouped his firm with what he called the "Big 3" of Brazilian extrusion suppliers, along side Carnevalli and Rulli Standard.

HGR began work on the new co-ex line, dubbed the Soyus 3 (with "soyus" meaning "union" in Portuguese, after the last Feiplastic [then Brasilplast] in 2011, and it made its world debut in São Paulo. With output ranging up to 300 kg/hr, the Soyus launched with five models ranging in size from 1200 to 2600 mm. Rodrigues said the 3-layer die features axial distribution of the polymer. At this time, the company is also researching pancake die technology that could push it into 5- and 7-layer film structures.  

Wortex, a 36-yr-old supplier of extrusion and recycling equipment, used Feiplastic to announce a new partnership versus a new technology. At the show, the company announced the formation of a new joint-venture company with Italian firm Amut to produce plastics recycling machinery in Brazil, tapping a booming market. "Demand for recycling is growing every year in Brazil," said Wortex's José Renato Saia. "Despite whatever the broader economy is doing, recycling grows every year." Amut Wortex, will be majority owned by Amut, with a 51% stake. Amut, which focuses exclusively on PET recycling, will open a new factory in Campinas in January.

True to its recycling interest, Wortex extruded, shredded, ground and re-extruded plastic into film at the fair. Running a single-layer blown-film extruder at 400 kg/hr, producing a 1600-mm film from a 400-mm die, the company continuously re-processed the product at the show in a closed loop.

Rising tide lifts Chinese, Brazilian boats
This sector, like many others in the country, has also been impacted by a wave of Chinese imports, particularly in extrusion machinery. Within that space, they have come to dominate in larger "serial production" lines, according to several Brazilian machinery suppliers.

Despite the new challenge, the domestic and Latin American markets remain strong for the sector, explaining its prominent presence at the fair.

"The Brazilian market at this moment for Carnevalli is very, very good," Carnevalli said, adding that on the first day of the show his company sold five machines.  In fact, Carnevalli said his company has already booked 10 months of business 5 months into 2013.

The flexible packaging sector grew by an average of 5.7% per year from 2006 to 2012, with that rate accelerating to 7.5% from 2010-2012, according to the Brazilian Flexible Plastics Packaging Association (ABIEF). Flexible packaging accounts for nearly half (48%) of Brazil's resin consumption, utilizing 3.7 billion tons in 2012, according to ABIEF.

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