PLAST 2012: Macro Engineering shows off low-shrink extrusion technology

While the focus of Canadian film and sheet extrusion systems supplier Macro’s PLAST 2012 presentation was on the food packaging market and the various models of biaxially oriented film lines which it supplies, the company had an extra trick up its sleeve this time, as well: it chose to launch its newest extrusion line for photovoltaic (PV) sheet production at the show in Milan.

For Macro, the choice of the Milan show was a logical one: the company opened a European facility relatively nearby in Mezzomerico four months ago with the goal to better serve its European customers through sales support, technical service, and future manufacturing.

Says Michele Ingegnoli, the newly appointed general manager at Macro Engineering & Technology SRL: “We’re busy expanding and already expect to start manufacturing after the summer.” His immediate role is to accelerate Macro Europe’s agenda of providing faster technical support, improved after-sales service, and a stronger local sales force in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Italy was selected as the site for Macro’s European branch because of its central proximity to the company’s European customer base and the area’s well-established network of suppliers and human resources. “Macro traditionally purchases many Italian components,” says Ingegnoli. “So choosing Italy over, say, Germany, was a purchase-driven decision. Also, this is an area with a lot of industry and very many expert people.”

While food and medical packaging have been Macro’s biggest markets up until now, the company is also looking to expand its activities in industrial applications, such as the solar industry. Macro’s new PV sheet line, which produces the encapsulant material used in the assembly of solar modules, features Macro’s patented (pending) low-shrink extrusion technology that minimizes shrinkage in the final sheet to below 2%, which Macro claims is the lowest on the market. The reduced-shrink properties lead to significantly greater yields as less material goes to waste during solar module manufacture.

The line produces encapsulation sheet made of a variety of materials including EVA, PE, PVB, and TPU; however, the technology can also be applied to other applications where low shrinkage is required, such as rigid sheet and lamination films, or sheet where shrinkage creates issues with quality.

Macro claims the line is optimized for simplicity by creating sheet without the use of a carrier web and incorporates a two-sided embossing option that allows the sheet to be wound without need of an interleave web. The line is completed by fully automatic winding technology with zero-waste, straight-edge cutovers that create jumbo rolls up to 1m in diameter.

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