Metallizing Trends Across the Globe

Investment in metallizing technologies continues — with incremental and replacement capacity being commissioned, adding to the overall capacity available and further depressing capacity utilization within the industry, which is currently estimated at between 40% and 50%. It does, however, improve the overall quality of the product, especially in regard to consistency of metal-to-material adhesion, levels and evenness of deposition, and optimization of barrier performance.

These newer investments also can assist in lowering unit production costs as sophistication of equipment design has made it possible to convert longer-length rolls and reduce machine downtime.

While some of this investment is in the traditional markets of North America and Europe, the majority is in the developing markets of China, India (for metallized polyester, much for textile thread applications), South East Asia, and the Middle East, with new equipment for metallized OPP production installed in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Issues that affect the business environment — such as the pending conflict with Iraq and continued counter-terrorism activities — will impact on the prospects for vacuum coating as for all other industries. However, the relatively low levels of global trading evident in vacuum-metallized products and their more local sales volumes (with the possible exception of some exports of metallized papers and fully converted label products from Europe) will provide some measure of protection.

Dr. William Llewellyn is an associate of AWA Alexander Watson Assoc. and an independent international business and technical consultant. He has a doctorate in chemical engineering and more than ten years in senior management positions with Van Leer Metallized Products, U.K.

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