BASF has started up a coextrusion line for packaging and technical films which will be used to develop applications for Ultramid polyamides.
The line in Ludwigshafen, Germany can produce cast and blown films with up to seven layers.
It will also be used for research, product development and material testing for Ultramid film products.
Specific market needs
Wolfgang Spada, senior sales manager polyamide and intermediates, Europe said it would enable test quantities and application testing of new film as it simulates production conditions.
“The machine is a seven layer machine so we can combine all the important use materials in the packaging industry to see the effect of the modification of the nylon, what we are doing usually, and it’s practically a smaller machine like it is running in all of our customers,” he told FoodProductionDaily.com at K Show in Dusseldorf.
He said the acquisition of a plant in Brazil last year gave them access to smaller reactors, to allow for more testing and flexibility.
“We can really modify materials which was hardly possible for us with the big lines we are running in Ludwigshafen, Antwerp and Freeport. So it is practically the first step and the second step is to test line them to try this modified materials in Ludwigshafen.”
The line is suited to cast or blown films and extrudes symmetrical and asymmetrical films 20μm to 250μm thick and up to 750mm wide at a speed of up to 50 meters per minute.
Blown films can be air-cooled and cooled with water, while cast films are cooled on a chill roll with an adjustable temperature of between 20°C and 130°C.
He said the requests from the food industry will be higher in all directions in the future and this move means BASF can handle those needs.
“[This] means economy but also longer shelf life for example or more sustainable materials and of course we would like to differentiate a little bit from our competitors by doing that.”
Spada identified that supermarket culture was adding to price pressures on industry.
“There is always price pressure, easier to see if you go to supermarkets, the offers you are getting there, and the price pressure is not only to the food producers it is also to the packaging producers. They are looking for new possibilities for new ways to get the same function or a better function of the packaging by saving costs.”
Active packaging was likely to be one of the big challenges in the coming years, he said, in terms of what the firm and its customers could do to provide protection against special ingredients in food or bacteria to ensure safety.