A. Schulman is a global producer of high-performance plastic compounds, powders, composites and resins in a variety of markets. With technology centres around the world, it is devoted to product development and colour research. Ralf Küsters, product line manager, shares his excitement about the company's new Easy Pour range and next-generation anti-fog products.
Furiously bashing its base is no longer the best means of draining the last bit of viscous liquids, like haircare products, from bottles. A. Schulman's 'Easy Pour' addtives offers a far more sophisticated way to extract maximum value. Innovating at its technology centres - A. Schulman has facilities around the globe in Europe, North and South America and Asia-Pacific - the company developed the Polybatch range to optimise packaging's inner surfaces. Adding the masterbatch to the inner layer of a multilayer structure ensures the contents flow smoothly, making it easier to empty the package.
"It's a struggle to empty stand-up pouches, tubes or bottles," says Ralf Küsters, product manager and market development manager. "There is always something left inside, and no one likes that."
To back up the innovation with numbers, A. Schulman developed a test to measure the speed and distance of the product on a tilted surface, as well as the amount of residue on that surface afterward. It showed a pouring improvement of up to 25% .The testing system in place allows brand-owners to appraise products themselves to see how well they work and adapt them to their particular needs.
"A. Schulman found that one single product didn't cover everyone's needs," Küsters says. 'Even if ketchup and tomato sauce seem similar products based on their main ingredient (tomato), the flow behaviour is so different that they need a different set of additives to obtain optimum emptying of the pouches or bottles in which they are sold."
In addition to the launch of the 'Easy Pour' additives, A. Schulman has been developing its next generation of anti-fog products, specifically for use in thin-film applications.
"A. Schulman has discerned an increasing request for antifog masterbatches based on PP. This may may be related to the use of more PP inner layers in lid films for better sealing properties," explains Küsters.
"An additional trend with lid films is the addition of more layers (up to 11), while reducing overall thickness. To retain the antifog effect, a higher concentration of the additive is necessary, and this can lead to stickiness and blooming. The new generation of antifog of A. Schulman has been specifically developed to avoid this problem in PE and PP."
The company is playing a big role in the flexible packaging market: "A. Schulman is heavily involved in this, because the requirements are getting more complex and other additives are required," Küsters says.
The market for stand-up pouches, for example, is growing at approximately three times the rate of that of flat-packaging, depending on the region. There is also need for PET in the market, which is growing at the same rate as stand-up pouches.
"A. Schulman saw how PET packaging was replacing plastic materials such as polystyrene and non-plastic materials such as glass, and it invested in new equipment and compounding facilities to meet this demand," Küsters says.
In addition to these new capabilities, A. Schulman offers additives to enhance. It provides additives to enhance BOPP, blown or cast film, sheet and profile extrusion, blown and injection moulding, and thermoforming applications. Masterbatches are available for PE, PP, PS, biopolymers and specially engineered resins, such as PET and nylon.
"A. Schulman wants to remain one of the market leaders in speciality materials," Küsters says. "Customer support and manufacturing expertise is important.
"With decades of technical experience and technology facilities around the world, the company is confident that its customers will keep coming to when they look for developments that fulfil their specific needs."