June 4, 2013
Converting innovator Tech II invests in Welex co-extrusion line to self-manufacture sheet for IML thermoforming
In January 2013, Springfield, Ohio packaging converter Tech II, Inc. (‘Tech II’) began producing polypropylene (‘PP’) sheet on a co-extrusion line provided by Welex Incorporated (‘Welex’). This followed Tech II’s 2011 diversification into thermoforming with North America’s first line capable of in-mold labeling (‘IML’). The additional investment of a sheet co-extrusion system is driven by Tech II’s desire to lead the industry by providing high quality, innovative, value-added packaging for its customers.
Tech II is an injection molder of lids and containers for margarine, dairy and deli food products. Operating 50 injection lines in 2 plants with 300 employees, the company produces 15 million pieces per day. ‘Three years ago, we were experiencing the difficulties of a mature, competitive market,’ explains Tech II president Eric Shiffer. ‘We decided to invest in thermoforming IML in order to ‘leapfrog’ injection molding IML, thereby creating the only North American manufacturer of thermoformed IML packaging. This creates a high quality lid-to-container interface to compete with all-injection-molded containers and lids; however, it enables the added benefits of a thermoformed container, including multi-layer and barrier,’ adds Shiffer.
Tech II selected Welex as its sheet extrusion solution provider and together decided to begin with a 4.5" and 2.5" co-extrusion line capable of producing 2- or 3-layer sheet (A/B, B/A, or B/A/B configurations) with film lamination capability. The line is expandable into full barrier and can handle up to 5 additional extruders including additional rolls for supplemental sheet cooling. This will enable Tech II to produce high barrier sheet structures containing EVOH + adhesives or 2-color sheet with a core layer of 100% scrap. The modular design of the Welex DB-W feedblock allows feedblock sections (and extruders) to be added as necessary.
‘Self-manufacturing our own sheet came from a desire for greater vertical integration – to control quality, costs – but even more importantly, to experiment and innovate on a confidential basis, accelerating the innovation cycle,’ states Shiffer. ‘This allows us to experiment with products in a proprietary way, without giving away any secrets we develop. If we find something that really works well, we have a great head start.’ He indicates Tech II is presently trialing two products.
‘We chose Welex as our extrusion solution provider due to its leadership and expertise in barrier solutions. We appreciate the extensibility of the line from co-ex/laminate capability today into full barrier tomorrow,’ says Shiffer. ‘The start-up of the line went flawlessly. Tech II’s lack of experience self-
manufacturing/extruding its own sheet is a new challenge, so we rely on Welex’s expertise. The reliability of the line and controls help eliminate the variables that we would otherwise face. And Welex’s in-market parts and service give us reassurance. We are very glad we made this investment and that Welex is our partner.’
‘The cutting-edge innovation Tech II is driving is exciting,’ said David Schroeder, Welex president and CEO. ‘We are pleased to be a partner and bring our decades of expertise in complex, barrier sheet solutions to provide the solution Tech II needs today with the expandability to meet the demands of tomorrow.’
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