Plantic Technologies Ltd's strategy is for the material to be compatible with a broad range of standard commercial conversion technologies. This is a core requirement in order to have any realistic prospect of winning large customers. The packaging industry is well established but generally operating with only profit thin margins on the basis of large volume/high-speed throughput. Therefore all plastics need to be able to be processed on existing machinery with little or no modification to the equipment and process; but with a similar throughput. Currently, PLANTIC™ can be readily converted on industry standard conversion equipment for thermoformed products.
Forming of all PLANTIC™ materials grades take place on standard thermoforming machines and vacuum/pressure forming machines under the PLANTIC™ recommended process conditions to ensure that the heating step does not dry the sheet and result in sheet damage. In the basic conversion process, sheet is heated either on a thermal plate or via radiant heating, formed into a mold with air pressure, cut, ejected from the mould and then stripped from the web. The web is the material left over after the trays have been stripped is then reground.
The PLANTIC™ HP regrind are then fed back into the extruder. Independent of the material used the sheet and tray making process produces up to 30% waste as standard, depending upon the tray dimensions and shape. Similar to all plastic regrind processes, there is varying degrees of degradation in the material every time it is reprocessed. The use of reground PLANTIC™ HP has been qualified for two passes at 50% usage, at present it is being used in the process up to 30% addition rate.
The edge trims and thermoforming waste from the PLANTIC™ laminated products are being tested to an aqueous wash recycling stream to retrieve PLANTIC™core and collect the Plastic skins for recycling. There are significant cost savings as well as environmental benefits through the reuse of regrind.