Battenfeld Gloucester: General Films to Expand Business with 9-Layer Blown Film Line

A nine-layer line is unusual for most processors. It represents a big jump in capabilities for General Films, but one that’s necessary for growth and to maintain a competitive edge, says Tim Weikert, president of the Covington, Ohio, processor. ‘Due to an increase in demand for high-barrier structures and our desire to supply more advanced films, we needed to supplement our capacity. We decided to go all the way to a nine-layer produc-tion capability.’
General Films will run a variety of nylon, polyethylene and EVOH grades on the blown film line. In addition to film extrusion, the line can corona treat either side of a web and produce roll stock, tubular films or bags in-line.
General Films produces monolayer, three-layer and five-layer films for bag-in-box sys-tems, modified atmosphere packaging and perishable foods like cheese, produce and poultry. It also supplies films for converting operations, chemicals and industrial packag-ing, plus food-grade tubing and custom bags. The company operates seven blown film lines, including three from Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering (BGE), along with four bag- and pouch-making machines and a profile line for food-grade tubing.
Weikert considered two suppliers for the project, but decided to invest with Gloucester to tap its broad experience in barrier film extrusion. BGE was the first extrusion equipment manufacturer to install an industrial-scale nine-layer blown film lab line at its headquarters in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for customers to work with. BGE will not only custom de-sign and supply all the equipment for the General Films line, but train operators in ad-vanced processing capabilities and provide a full range of technical service and after-sale support. ‘We are offering the whole package of capabilities,’ says Angelo Vissas, blown film project manager at BGE. ‘We build everything throughout the line. Our expertise and commitment to customer service appeals to General Films.’
The equipment for the line, all developed by BGE, includes nine ContraCool ® Extrud-ers-two 2.5-in.-dia. machines and seven 2-in.-dia. units, each at 30:1 L/D. ContraCool ® extruders utilize a highly efficient, air-cooled design that reduces energy consumption and maintenance.
Each 2.5-in. extruder also has a ‘light groove-feed’ design-the barrel grooves are much shallower than those in a conventional groove-feed system, combining the benefits of a smooth bore and grooved feed. The result, says Vissas, is an increase in the coefficient of friction in the barrel, which improves the conveying efficiency of the screw. Because the groove is less aggressive than conventional groove-feed machines, the result is en-hanced and more consistent throughput without the potential to lock up on unlubricated nylons or shear off soft pellets like plastomers. BGE sees great promise for light groove-feed technology in other applications.
The nine-layer Low-Profile die has the Autoprofile™ system for thickness control and Ultracool dual-lip air ring. The compact die stands just over 4 ft. tall and is designed to minimize polymer residence time, which reduces degradation and promotes process quality. Another technological improvement is the utilization of BGE’s encapsulated feed technology or EFT. EFT enhances overall die performance by streamlining flow pas-sages, and also permits quicker, cleaner changeovers of resins and colors.
Very tight layer and gauge control will be maintained in several ways: by gravimetric blending and output control; melt flow symmetry and advanced spiral design of the Opti-flow™ die; and by use of the Extrol process control with APC. A Traversanip oscillating hauloff will assure roll flatness at the winder. Vissas maintains that it’s possible to achieve greater control over gauge and roll weight with Battenfeld’s nine-layer line than with com-petitive equipment.
General Films’ history with BGE began in 1974. While this did not guarantee the sale, the relationship underscores Battenfeld’s engineering and service capabilities. ‘We have a good understanding of what Gloucester is capable of doing when it comes to blown film, and we feel very comfortable that they will deliver the goods as promised on time,’ says Weikert.

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