Canadian film and sheet extrusion machinery supplier Macro Engineering Technology Inc. will premiere a new polylactic acid (PLA) foam extrusion line at NPE 2015.
The line uses tandem extruders to produce foamed PLA sheet between 1.2-5.0mm thick and up to 1,270 mm wide with a foam density of 0.07g/cc (16x expansion ratio). The sheet can be thermoformed into compostable clamshell packaging and trays used for cold food applications.
To address obstacles that are inherent to foaming PLA, mainly the material’s low melt strength, melt crystallinity and narrow processing window, Macro has developed a proprietary new extruder design. The result is uniform melt temperature distribution and reliable foaming, the company said.
Macro is developing new technologies for use with this extrusion line to expand the application range of foamed PLA. Recent trials have shown promise for hot-fill applications using thermoformed PLA foam as an alternative to polystyrene (PS) packaging.