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Film Conversion

Film conversion is a process where plastic materials are transformed into thin, flexible sheets or films that are then used for various applications across multiple industries. To explain this in a simple manner, let's break it down into what it involves, why it's important, and how it's used in everyday life.

What is Film Conversion?

Imagine taking a chunk of plastic and turning it into a thin, almost paper-like sheet. That's essentially what film conversion is. It starts with plastic resins, which are the raw materials made from petroleum products. These resins are melted and processed through different methods to produce films of varying thickness, strength, and flexibility. The most common types of plastics used for making films include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

How is Film Conversion Done?

The conversion of plastic resins into films typically involves several key techniques:

  1. Extrusion: This is the most common method. Plastic resins are melted and pushed through a circular die to form a continuous tube of plastic. This tube is then inflated with air to stretch it into a thinner film while it cools down. This process is known as blown film extrusion.

  2. Casting: In this method, the melted plastic is poured onto a cool rolling drum and smoothed into a thin layer. As it cools, it solidifies into a film. Cast films are usually clearer and have better gloss than blown films.

  3. Calendering: Here, the plastic is passed between rollers at high temperatures to produce a thin film. This technique is often used for making PVC films.

Why is Film Conversion Important?

Film conversion is crucial because it allows the creation of materials that are integral to many aspects of daily life. The films produced are used for packaging, agricultural, medical, and industrial applications due to their durability, flexibility, and barrier properties (ability to block moisture, gases, etc.).

Uses of Converted Films

Here are some common uses of plastic films that are produced through film conversion:

  1. Packaging: Probably the most visible use of converted films is in packaging. Everything from food items to electronics is packaged using various types of plastic films. These films can keep food fresh, prevent damage to goods during shipping, and even provide tamper-evident seals.

  2. Agricultural Films: These films are used extensively in agriculture for mulching, greenhouse covers, and to protect crops from weather and pests. These applications help in increasing crop yield and reducing the need for chemical pesticides.

  3. Medical Films: In the medical field, films are used for packaging pharmaceuticals, manufacturing surgical gowns, drapes, and other disposable items. These films are often specialized to be sterile and barrier-resistant.

  4. Industrial Applications: Plastic films are used in various industrial settings for applications such as vapor barriers in construction, liners for ponds or landfills, and in automotive parts.

Environmental Considerations

While plastic films are incredibly useful, they also pose environmental challenges, primarily due to their durability and resistance to degradation, which contribute to plastic pollution. The industry is actively working on developing more sustainable practices, such as recycling films and creating biodegradable films that minimize environmental impact.

Film conversion in the plastics industry is a fascinating process that turns basic plastic resins into versatile, functional films used in many aspects of our lives. From keeping our food fresh to helping farmers grow more food, the impact of these films is immense. However, it is also crucial to balance the benefits with environmental responsibility to ensure that the use of plastic films remains sustainable for future generations. By understanding these processes and uses, people can appreciate the complexity and importance of film conversion in our modern world.

Piedmont Plastics operates two ISO Certified plastic film conversion facilities capable of meeting the diverse needs of markets across the country. Our film conversion facilities specialize in converting and distributing plastic film based on your exact specifications and requirements.

In addition to providing plastic film materials, we are proud to provide a full array of film conversion services to our customers, including the following:

Precision Guillotine Cutting: A converting process whereby sheets of film are precision square-cut to varying lengths and widths.

Interleaving: A process whereby thin tissue paper is placed between sheets of clear plastic film to prevent scratching. This is done during the sheeting process.

Laminating: A process of adhering a pre-mask or adhesive to a substrate.

Pre-Masking: The process of protecting a surface from contamination or scratching.

Rewinding: Winding down master rolls to custom roll sizes.

Sheeting: A converting process whereby a wide format roll of film is cut to varying lengths.

Slitting: A converting process whereby a wide format roll of film is slit or converted to varying widths and lengths.

Tipping: May be required for offset/litho printing. Attaching a sheet of white offset paper to one side of the plastic sheet along one edge using a thin line of aqueous based adhesive. This allows the glossy material to be fed through an offset press.