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Film extrusion: Reifenhäuser Kiefel's 'Evolution' continues with new film lines

Last summer Reifenhäuser acquired the film extrusion machinery business of Kiefel, and now the merged company has introduced its first co-developed machine range, dubbed the Evolution. Although the official introduction of the new range is slated for K 2010, orders from customers already have been fielded, including one just last weekend.

That's according to Kurt Freye, director of global sales at the company, who spoke on June 14 during a pre-K 2010 press conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. A "big customer" in Mexico placed an order for one of the new machines last weekend, he said, and another line—2.8m wide and fitted for 5-layer film—has been ordered by Dutch film extruder Flexoplast.

Bernd Reifenhäuser, responsible for strategy and one of three brothers who manage the company, said, "The goal from the start [of the Kiefel acquisition] was to combine the companies' ranges to one modular machine—which we call the Evolution." Such modularity makes for a flexible system, added Freye. "The lines and dies can handle many different polymers. The entire philosophy is to enable the customer to be flexible with what orders he can accept, at an attractive cost [for the blown-film line]."

At its K show stand, the company intends to run one of the new Evolution lines in a 9-layer film configuration, said Bernd Schroeter, head of the technical department at Reifenhäuser Kiefel. Among new features is a revamped operator control system that is so user friendly, said Schroeter, "it's like an iPhone."

Officially labeled the RKE Evolution, the system's centerpiece is its extruder/film blowing die combination. The new Evolution extruder is flexible enough to process polyolefins and barrier materials such as EVOH, PA and PETG, and it is said to have a wide throughput range at very low melt temperatures. The rheological and thermal design of the die permits processors to consistently produce extremely thin film layers with highly accurate thickness ratios of the individual layers, according to the manufacturer.

The film cooling unit was redesigned and adapted for barrier film requirements so that, says the company, barrier films can be run at throughput rates that until now were only possible with polyolefins. The modular system of the Evolution WP winder means it can be configured for contact winding, center winding or gap winding, and comes with a range of accessory modules that can be switched on and off as needed.

In business news, Ulrich Reifenhäuser said the company's six business units were online to earn a combined €400million this year. "We're financially solid and optimistic," he stated. The company has invested better than €30 million in its R&D facilities in the past five years so that it now has "the largest R&D facility in the extrusion industry," he added. 

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