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Reading plastic's palm

Next month''s issue of MPW features eight Notable Predictions of what processors can expect in the coming years. These stories, based on input from market leaders, target materials pricing, resin supply and demand, energy costs, processing capacities, developments on the additives and fillers markets, and machinery developments.

Providing a teaser to what readers will be able to read early in November, German Laverde, director of marketing at processing equipment maker Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering (Gloucester, MA) looked into his crystal ball and tells MPW here what he expects for the extrusion market.

"Probably the biggest changes on the cast-extrusion equipment [side] will be the increase in processing flexibility [in the coming years]. Output will be increased or optimized for the variety of orders coming from the market. Smaller batches will be more common and more material combinations will not be unusual," Laverde says.

He foresees more exotic engineering resins being processed together with resin families that traditionally were incompatible. Also, equipment will be optimized to process them without incurring more scrap during order production or transitions from one to the next.

Laverde also speculates that cast film will gain market share over both blown film and laminates because of the increase in the number of layers used in coextrusion and the quality as well as evenness of film thickness. Optical properties, higher output, and flatness are also selling points to promote the penetration of cast films. Although the commodity market for stretch and cast polypropylene (CPP) films will remain, he sees more barrier and complex structure applications produced with this process.

Being able to change the width, thickness, and number of layers on the fly by using remote controls is also coming, according to Laverde. Controls should offer quicker set up modules. "Although remote diagnosis is available currently, more features and options will be available such as streaming video through the Internet, live diagnosis, and adjustments helping to solve problems faster," he says.-Robert Colvin; [email protected]

TAGS: Materials
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