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Tacolin offering 'plastic film with a gentle touch.' (includes additional information on European disposable hygienic product market) (Taco Plastics)

Tacolin Offering 'Plastic Film With A Gentle Touch'

With a long history as a supplier of blown film to the packaging industry, Taco Plastics, Cheshire, U.K., only entered the diaper film business in 1986 with a dedicated line for the production of "Tacolin" film for diapers.

Tacolin, the Taco Plastics subsidiary that produces the diaper film, is the only U.K. producer that serves this market and has developed a healthy export business to other European countries through the last four years; last year 60% of sales were exported. The company has invested 5 million [pounds] ($10 million) to produce cast film for the hygiene business. It can produce film to any specific thickness between 10-150 microns and any width up to 2500 mm.

Tacolin already had to increase its film capacity this year. At INDEX '90 last April, the company announced it was buying a cast line from Fidex in Switzerland, increasing capacity from 7000 in 1990 to 12,500 in 1991.

In addition to backing films, Tacolin is developing markets for laminates with nonwovens and paper. On its second line, there are possibilities for adding webs of other materials that become laminated to the film by pressure and heat as they are extruded.

Because of the cost controls and environmental pressures to reduce the consumption of plastic materials, diaper and incontinence pad producers are encouraging film suppliers to create very lightweight films while maintaining performance. Tacolin is currently marketing a five layer coextruded film product.

In a recent interview with Nonwovens Industry, European sales manager Roland Ghaye commented on the primary advantages of the Tacolin film. "Firstly, the ability to achieve constant and guaranteed surface properties is important for good runnability and end product quality on modern high speed and high performance diaper lines," he said. "Secondly, our film has different properties that can be engineered into the layers of the films. For example, different raw materials can be used to add properties such as breathability and degradability where required.

"Over the next four months, we are going to be able to create seven layer coextruded films that will further increase the tailor-made possibilities," he added.

Colored films are another area in which the company is progressing now that the concept has crossed the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe. Tacolin and other major film producers now offer a range of shades with tight quality control to assure no variation in colors between runs.

A call for biodegradable film was one of the early "green" challenges set for film suppliers. However, this has proved to be less of a solution than many expected in the context of an improved understanding of what represents real green progress. Instead, Tacolin, according to Mr. Ghaye, has invested resources in recycling scrap and is actively investigating ways to increase its involvement further down the production chain.

To ensure consistent quality, Tacolin has fully automated process control on both of its lines and has invested in an in-house Quality Control and Technical Dept. Quality control is a constant target for Tacolin, Mr. Ghaye said, and it has been awarded British Standard 5750, which involves a commitment to quality assurance. Taco believes that registration under this scheme will increase customers' confidence in its ability to satisfy their needs and continually improve.

"As a company, I believe we have now come through the usual early growth problems," said managing director Paul Samuel. "The investments we have made in people and equipment are paying off and we can now claim to be at the forefront of product and process cast technology. This is the base we needed to be able to offer the type of quality and consistency our customers are demanding."

The European Market: No Longer Traditional

The European disposable hygienic product market in Europe used approximately 98,000 tons of film in 1990. Traditionally, European diaper makers have used blown film for diaper backing, but recently producers have been investing in cast-extruded lines for this market. Cast and blown films have their own intrinsic advantages. Blown film is stronger in tensile strength and less brittle when compared with early cast films developed for the disposables market and introduced by U.S. supplier Clopay, Cincinnati, OH. Research and development in cast films has resolved this shortcoming. Currently, approximately half of the diaper film used in Europe is cast embossed and this is increasing.

Two key advantages of cast over blown film are its softness and quietness in use. From a production point of view, cast film offers more flexible options. The cast film production process allows different properties to be built in by coextruding several different layers to make one very thin sheet. The cast films available today are typically five layers. In addition, cast embossed film is more aesthetically appealing and the embossing pattern can be used to differentiate between different products.

The largest suppliers of backing film to the European market are Tacolin, U.K.; Exten S.A., Switzerland; AOE Plastic, RKW and 4P of Germany; ACE S.A. of Belgium; Polygoff and Pansac of Italy; and Trioplanex of Sweden.
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Author:Haddad, Clare
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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