Green Matter: First biobased polyamide film offers equal or stronger properties than standard PA
A new polyamide film based on DSM’s bio-based EcoPaXX has been launched by DSM and its development partner, cast-film extruder MF Folien GmbH (Kempten, Germany), with the latter “confident that orders will follow” for a film that exhibits better elongation at break and a higher melting point than standard PA film.
A major manufacturer of polyamide film in Europe, MF Folien has been DSM’s development partner for Eco.PaXX film from the start. According to Rainer Leising, general sales manager at MF Folien, the company has carried out a number of test runs for DSM in the last two years, adding that the film is easy to process, very much like any other PA film.
In 2011, MF Folien was the first company to create samples of 30-µm cast film from EcoPaXX. Since then, samples have also been produced in thicknesses of 40 and 50 µm. “But now we are able to produce large quantities of the new film for our customers,” said Leising. “We have a lot of customers who are currently testing its lamination and printing performance for their end users, and I am confident that orders will follow.” MF Folien, he explains, manufactures the monofilm only: for use in packaging or other applications, it needs to be laminated with another material such as PE, for example.
DSM introduced castor oil-based EcoPaXX in order to meet increasing market demand for high-performance durable biobased engineering plastics. According to DSM, the result is a high-performance resin with a neutral carbon footprint. In other words, the carbon dioxide generated in producing the polymer is offset by the CO2 it absorbs in plant growth. In addition, as the company points out, the castor bean plant does not compete with the food chain.
How do biobased PA films perform?
With a biobased content of 70%, EcoPAXX PA 410 film certainly has a lower environmental footprint than similar products. Obviously, the next question is, how does its performance compare to “standard” polyamides, such as PA6? According to Leising, the new monofilm compares very well, indeed.
“It has a better functionality: a better elongation at break, a higher melting point and is suitable for use at higher temperatures,” he said, adding that a number of properties, such as chemical and heat resistance, were also superior to those of standard PA6. “Also, the barrier properties are nearly the same,” he said. When fully wet, the oxygen barrier of polyamide 410 is even higher. “One difference compared to, for example, 100% OPA film, is that it is slightly less transparent, with a lower resistance to hazing,” he noted. Potential application areas for the film are in flexible food packaging, building & construction, medical, aviation and shipping.
How much do biobased PA films cost?
One area that offers room for improvement is the price. When asked, a source at DSM said that the company believed that the new film had an attractive price-performance ratio. However, at three- to four times the price of standard PA6, customers are finding it a bit steep. Rainer Leising sees this as a temporary problem. “In my view, this is a product with very high potential. The quantities our customers are currently using are test quantities. As soon as these quantities increase—and they will, I am sure—the price will come down.”