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New extrusion line gives thin-walled PE tube processors additional flexibility

A newly introduced extrusion line for thin-walled polyethylene tubes, such as the squeeze tubes used to package cosmetics, gives processors the flexibility to extrude a wide range of tube sizes, configurations (1-5 layers) and compounds, and even to quickly change from one tube specification to another.

Manufactured and marketed by extrusion systems supplier Boston Matthews (Worcestershire, England and Norwood, NJ), the new range of medium speed "Squeeze Tube" extrusion lines is part of the range of extrusion lines designed by the company specifically for the production of thin walled PE tubes. Machines are available sized to extrude tube sized from 15-60mm.

Boston Matthews developed the new lines with some of its customers, squeeze tube manufacturers from around the world who already use the company's high-speed Squeeze Tube lines, which it introduced some six year ago. The new lines were developed to help processors of these plastic tubes meet the demands to manufacture a more diverse range of tube sizes, specifications, blends and colors.

The company introduced the line officially at last fall's K show, and Richard Brookes, marketing manager at Boston Matthews, says the event was a huge success. "Business at the moment is very good and 2010 was an extremely busy year for Boston Matthews," he commented in response to MPW questions. "K 2010 was extremely successful for us and the general mood of the industry was quite upbeat." He allows that there remains some uncertainty in some corners of the plastics enjoy "some excellent sales growth within the last few years. This can be attributed to the new innovations and technology we have specifically introduced to those industries which have been making investments over recent time and are to continue to do so," he explains, referring to among others introductions of lines for medical tubing and the cosmetic tube range.

Orders for the medium-speed line have already been completed and extruders "are in full production within several of the industry's leading tube producers," according to the company. To foster the line's flexibility, the die head has the ability to change color or polymer faster, while also ensuring that tubes achieve the high standard of surface finish essential for tube decorating. Different tube layer configurations can be produced without adjustment, and shorter flow passages are said to help maintain higher quality production.

According to Boston Matthews, the tube calibration system for these extrusion lines has been designed for easy, damage-free removal, enabling quick size changes as well as rapid cleaning when required. The unit is designed in such so that identification of scratches or other contamination issues can be quickly identified and recertified without requiring heavy lifting equipment.

Diameter monitoring, automatic tube rejection systems and the line's control system help ensure that tube quality is maintained and that these extrusion lines can be readily integrated within fully automated tube manufacturing facilities. The line's control system is run via 15-inch color touchscreen operating system. Features include automatic line start-up, recipe storage, constant performance monitoring and diagnostics, language selection, process data access, and password protection. Ethernet connectivity can allow the line to be added to a computer network for production data storage, access and remote monitoring.

TAGS: Packaging
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