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2019 SPC Innovator Award: Innovation in Design Optimization finalist

Plastilene Group: Micro-Foaming Technology in Flexible Co-Extrusion Blown Films

In collaboration with MuCell Extrusion LLC and the Dow Chemical Company, Plastilene Group has brought to market a new application for an innovative technology. Plastilene is manufacturing flexible plastic packaging with 18% less overall density by injecting nitrogen in the core layer of co-extrusion blown films, enabling a significant decrease in the amount of material used to make high performance packaging.

Why it’s important:

This technology had been proven in rigid applications, but finding a way to make it work in thin films shows that material-efficient packaging formats can become even more material-efficient, pushing the frontier of doing more with less.

Original submission:

“Microfoaming Technology in Flexible Co-Extrusion Blown Films”

What impact on sustainable packaging has this submission made?

Since 2014 Plastilene Group signed a licensee agreement with MuCell Extrusion LLC to develop the high density foam technology (HDFT) in thermoplastic extrusion processes.

The above mentioned technology has been used in different applications such as food flexible packaging, industrial flexible packaging, agricultural films, paper replacement, rigid rPET packaging among others, with the cooperation of Dow Chemical for the flexible applications. Most of them are already commercialized and Plastilene has been developing different conversion technologies to enhance the use of HDFT.

An important saving of raw materials consumption is achieved by an average reduction of 18% in overall density. It is made by the injection of nitrogen (N2), in the core layer of coextrusion blow films in the molten state of the polymer at super-critical thermodynamic process conditions.

The first mass and commercial application of HDFT in Colombia was developed during 2016 by Plastilene Group for secondary flexible packaging of Familia Group hygienic products.

The life cycle impact assessment of this particular development was made by using Umberto software tool, with Ecoinvent databases showing reductions in the following categories: -18% on ecosystem impact, -16% on health impact and -18% on resources depletion. Similar environmental results are applicable to the rest of the micro foaming developed products.

By the end of 2018 Plastilene Group will complete more than 500 tons sold with this innovative and sustainable technology. In addition to the environmental positive impacts, the cost/benefit balance has been yielding profits for the chain value.

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