Since pioneering the masterbatch market for BOPET film applications, Sukano has not stopped innovating. Continually improving its products to meet changing market demands, the company recently launched its latest generation of ultra-clear masterbatch for oriented film application.
It all began 30 years ago when Sukano formulated a highly concentrated mix of additives to be added to PET rigid films during the manufacturing process. As the market naturally turned towards biaxially oriented polyester films (OPET), Sukano's offerings followed.
The property levels established at that time have gradually evolved to ensure they retain their status as market reference for PET films applications. Sukano has never stopped searching for ways to improve the performance of its additives for OPET to further improve optical and physical performance.
Now, Sukano's investment in state-of-the-art lab equipment has paid off. Company specialists have developed a new formulation that, when tested at 1,000ppm at the Sukano technical centre, has been shown to produce haze levels below 1% on a 10/80/10 coex OPET film with 24µ thickness, while also providing excellent coefficient of friction (COF) values and printability. OPET coex films 10/80/10 containing 1,500ppm active ingredient as the typical maximum use level in thicknesses, such as 12, 24 and 50µ, have also demonstrated outstanding haze levels. Measured in-house, they reported as 1.22, 1.27 and 1.98% respectively.
In recent years, the BOPET film-manufacturing industry has been through some intense changes, with significant additional capacity influencing film market demand and profitability. This has caused the leading players to look for more sophisticated end applications and market requirements. All the while, productivity remains as critical to achieving a competitive advantage as film quality. Sukano's newest masterbatch formulation, therefore, comes at a crucial time. The result of a new chemical combination of additives, it has a thorough selection of ingredients with large particle sizes to create higher surface roughness. This provides the fastest-known splitting speed in use today, while melt filtration is kept suitable for 20µ filters.
Since the BOPET manufacturing process is considered a true speciality, the moment of truth can only come when production begins in industrial trials. However, in order to minimise issues common to early stage project development, Sukano's formula was tested at lab scale to evaluate the extrusion performances of the material. This was done using the company's in-house coex commercial film line, which has the ability to produce up to five-layer-film structures. This was followed by a validation of the optical (colour, opacity and gloss) and physical (density and mechanical) properties of the film using Sukanos Karo IV labstretcher from Brückner.
By conducting these tests using own-lab equipment, the company is able to offer stretched film samples from a controlled lab environment. This allows the customer to carefully and thoughtfully select the most promising product performance before going to pilot line trials, or allows them to skip pilot trials altogether, going directly to industrial trials.
For customers willing to share their own references with Sukano, the company can go a step ahead: combining its two pieces of advanced technology and the know-how of the specialists designing the new formulas. This generates some of the most relevant analysis done by Sukano. The output provides a very good indication of the expected behaviour of the product on a specific customer's manufacturing lines. The benefits of this new offering are tremendous as the films and properties provide the highest acceptance level for processing-performance scale-up predictions.
The key is working closely together. In this way, the company can provide true differentiation to its customers, and offer new products in this market. The results are drastically shortened development times and accelerated time to market.