The co-extruded blown film market has historically been very price-driven. Companies trying to compete must be very discriminating in their pursuit of advanced technology in order to remain competitive. But, by working together as partners, Corotec Corporation, a corona treatment technology company, and Optimum Plastics, Inc., a co-extruded blown film manufacturer, were able to devise an economical way to deliver high-quality blown film products to Optimum’s customers while decreasing lead times.

Optimum Plastics delivers its products to the automotive, food, and industrial markets. They currently have three Battenfeld-Gloucester lines and require corona treatment on many of their products in order to achieve surface adhesion of printing inks, as well as adhesion to other film and foam products in laminating applications. In 1997, Optimum purchased their first Corotec corona treatment system, an 84-inch-wide unit with double-sided treatment capability.

Because Optimum specially engineers its films for specific customer applications, and every order is “made to order,” production scheduling of corona-treated products became an issue. “We needed a unit that was portable to all three production lines,” said Bob Clemons, president and CEO of Optimum Plastics.

A Portable Solution – One Treater for Three Lines

Optimum decided to make their existing Corotec unit portable. The treating station was mounted on a frame with casters. The power supply cables were lengthened and the exhaust ductwork extended to allow the treating station to service either of their two existing lines. The power supply was mounted in a fixed location, central to both lines. The concept worked well, but the power cables and exhaust ducting lying on the floor became a problem.

Coincidentally, around the same time that Optimum Plastics was considering the purchase of their third blown film line, Corotec brought their new application-specific blown film corona treatment system to market. “When Corotec became aware of our need for treatment on a third line, a totally new concept was brought to the table. They offered to work with us up front to custom design the unit to meet our needs. This unit would incorporate all the features of their new blown film corona treater and eliminate the cable and ducting in the operator’s workplace,” said Clemons. “We now have two corona treatment units, using the original as a backup.”

Corotec worked with Optimum to custom engineer their newest blown film corona treating system model on a movable cart with casters. The entire treating system, including the power supply, high-voltage transformer, and pneumatic controls, is located and pre-wired on a movable cart that services all three blown film lines. “We worked closely with Optimum to set up their plant with the proper overhead electrical and exhaust hook-ups at each blown film line,” said Ron Seaman, vice president of sales for Corotec. “The cart with the blown film treatment system is designed to shuttle back and forth down a 10-foot alleyway, where it can be easily connected into any one of the production lines.”

Optimum’s feeling about working with Corotec was summarized by their plant manager, Herb Pack. “Corotec was terrific to work with. Their help with the new line was invaluable. Whenever we had questions or needed help with the new system or the original treater that we had converted, their engineers and service people have been outstanding.”

Faster Lead Times and Economic Benefits

What was the result of this collaboration? By working with Optimum, Corotec was able to contribute to their growth in the following ways. First, Optimum only needed one corona treatment system to service all three lines, and they saved approximately $40,000 by purchasing one new treater instead of two. Second, they can now offer better lead times to their customers because internal production scheduling issues have been resolved.

“A result that took us by surprise was that the new design was engineered differently and the blown film technology used in the portable system allowed us to make consistently better films from a treatment standpoint,” said Clemons. “The system is very operator friendly and much easier to use, and external adjustments can be made while the treater is in operation.”

Additional savings were realized as a result of the quality of the new blown film technology available. Because the new blown film treater was easier to operate, it produced a more consistent operation, reduced scrap, and needed less downtime.

Optimum is able to take the savings they achieved and invest in themselves. A $3,000,000 company in 1997, Optimum has grown to $10,000,000 in sales in 2000 and is projecting more than $12,000,000 in 2001. Their growth is enabling them to expand into new markets such as adhesive and lamination films used in many packaging markets, as well as skin packaging.

Blown Film Treater Is Application-Specific

Introduced in June 2000 at the NPE show in Chicago and shown for the first time to the converting industry at CMM ’01, the new Corotec blown film corona discharge treatment system is economically priced and designed specifically for this market. “Our new blown film corona discharge treatment system is an affordable, high-quality system accessible to virtually any blown film operation,” said Bruce Stobbe, president of Corotec Corporation.

The Corotec system features an open-frame design for easy access, two-sided corona treatment capability, swing-out electrode assemblies for easy cleaning, pneumatic operation for drop-through thread-up, fixed-width or width-adjustable treatment for easy setup, and external air gap adjusters for “tool-free” calibration. Unique Track-Free insulators minimize cleaning requirements as well.

The system that Corotec delivered to Optimum includes all of the features of the standard blown film corona treatment system as described, but it was also custom engineered to meet all of Optimum’s requirements. “Working to satisfy our customers specific needs is an important part of what we are all about,” said Seaman. “By meeting with and listening to the people at Optimum, we developed a solution that provides them with exactly what they were looking for.”

Optimum Plastics, Inc. is a manufacturer of co-extruded blown film for the automotive, food, and industrial markets. They are film specialists, and they are experts in providing JIT delivery to distributors in these industries. For more information about Optimum Plastics, Inc., you can contact them at: Optimum Plastics, Inc., 1201 S. Houk Road, Delaware, OH 43015-3861; Telephone: 740-369-2770.