- December 01, 2001, Deborah Donberg, Managing Editor
Optimum Plastics Inc. needed a third coextrusion line, and that meant another corona treater. The Delaware, OH, coextruded blown film manufacturer already had a Corotec Corp. treater it had adapted to serve two extrusion lines. But Bob Clemons, president and CEO of Optimum, knew that with the addition of the new line, additional treating capacity was needed.
Optimum delivers products to the automotive, food, and industrial markets. The company currently runs three Battenfeld-Gloucester lines and requires corona treatment on many of its products in order to achieve surface adhesion of printing inks, as well as adhesion to other film and foam products in laminating applications. The company produces all polyethylene film in a density range of 0.895 — 0.960, as well as polypropylene.
In 1997 Optimum purchased its first Corotec corona treatment system, an 84-in.-wide unit with double-sided treatment capability. Because Optimum 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,” explains Clemons.
Optimum decided to make its existing Corotec unit portable by mounting the treating station 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 the 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 Optimum Plastics was considering the purchase of its third blown film line, Corotec brought its new application-specific blown film corona treatment system to market.
New Concept for New Line
“When Corotec became aware of our need for treatment on a third line, they brought a totally new concept to the table,” Clemons recalls. “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 operators' workplace. As a result, we now have two corona treatment units, using the original as a backup.”
Corotec worked with Optimum to custom engineer its newest model blown film corona treating system 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.
Clemons reports Corotec worked closely with Optimum to set up the plant with the proper overhead electrical and exhaust hook-ups at each blown film line. “The cart with the blown film treatment system is designed to shuttle back and forth down a ten-foot alleyway, where it can be connected easily into any one of the production lines.”
Clemons adds that, while the treater system was designed for Optimum specially, it includes such standard Corotec features as 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.
Collaboration Leads to Growth
What was the result of the collaboration with Corotec? According to Clemons, Corotec has been able to contribute to Optimum's growth in more than one way. “First, we needed only one corona treatment system to service all three lines and saved approximately $40,000 by purchasing one new treater instead of two. And, now we can offer better lead times to our customers because internal production scheduling issues have been resolved.”
Clemons adds, “A result that took us by surprise was the new design was engineered differently, and the blown film technology used in the portable system allowed us to make better films consistently from a treatment standpoint. The system is very operator-friendly. It is easier to use, and external adjustments can be made while the treater is in operation.”
Additional savings were seen as a result of the quality of the new blown film technology, Clemons says. “Because the new treater is easier to operate, it allows for more consistent operation, reduced scrap, and less downtime.
Optimum has taken the savings it achieved and invested in itself. A $3,000,000 company in 1997, it has grown to $10,000,000 sales in 2000 and is projecting more than $12,000,000 in 2001. This growth, says Clemons, is enabling the company to expand into new markets such as adhesive films and lamination films used in many packaging markets, as well as skin packaging.
Optimum plant manager Herb Pack summarizes his company's feelings about the new treater: “Corotec was terrific to work with. Their help with the new line was invaluable. Whenever we've 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.”
And that's how one new treater was able to provide not only top-line corona treating but many other benefits as well.
Optimum Plastics Inc.
Corotec Corp., Farmington,
CT; ph: 860/678-0038; 800/423-0348; fax: 860/674-5229.
Battenfeld-Gloucester, Gloucester, MA; ph: 978/281-1800; fax: 978/282-9111.