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Multi-Plastics Turn Production Around with New Way Air Turns™


Multi-Plastics, Inc. provides almost 60% of the world’s polystyrene window film. So, when they saw the opportunity to improve production and cut downtime on their 24×7 production lines, they didn’t hesitate. Multi-Plastics integrated New Way Air Turns for their roll-to-roll processes, removing defects, creating uniform, tunable tension, and allowing for additional cooling.

In business upwards of 40 years, Multi-plastics Inc. provides approximately 60% of the world’s market of polystyrene window film to envelope manufacturers. With a demand that drives 24×7 production, Blair Bell, engineering manager at Multi-plastics, is always looking to improve operations.

As a roll-to-roll film manufacturer, Bell is familiar with the ongoing maintenance and common manufacturing woes associated with flexible films. With continued technology advancements, Multi-plastics has tried their share of solutions, yet they still continue to investigate innovative ways to enhance the efficiency of operations.

In Bell’s constant search for improvements, he learned of New Way® Air Turns. He recognized New Way’s foundational Porous Media Technology™ offered several benefits to help Multi-plastics overcome some of the limitations they were experiencing during production.

The Challenges Faced by Multi-plastics

Polystyrene window film carries special requirements to ensure it can operate within a mail scanning system, including: New Way Air Turn featuring a porous media wrap which uses air to move a product without contact or moving parts.

  • Scratch-resistant film
  • Uniform gauge of .7 mil to 2 mils thick
  • No wrinkles or fold-overs

Failing to meet these requirements can cause a mail scanning system to reject an entire mass mailing, leaving unsatisfied customers.

Idler rollers are one of the components in use throughout Multi-plastics’ high-temperature (~500℉) roll-to-roll polystyrene film production. Over time, the bearings on these idler rollers routinely seize up. This, coupled with the small wrap angle on the idler roller, allows the film to become scratched. A lack of uniform distribution across the idler roller also creates gauge bands.

When defects like these are discovered during quality inspections, an entire roll of film may need to be discarded, worth ~$1,000.00. Bell and his team found themselves constantly contending with scratches and wrinkles in the film, despite using low-friction bearings with anodized rollers. Not only was money lost from the damaged product, but Multi-plastics had to purchase replacement bearings several times a year.

Bell knew he needed a better way to:

  • Minimize scratches
  • Improve component longevity

With these goals in mind, Bell purchased a New Way Air Turn.

A New Way to Turn Film

New Way Air Turns offered a unique solution for Multiplastics, with several advantages to meet their objectives:

  1. No Contact
    Air Turns feature a customer-defined wrapped area of porous media through which air is distributed, enabling the film to be moved without contact. With no moving parts, there is no wear during operations, saving money on costly replacement parts.
  2. Uniform Air Distribution
    Carbon’s inherent permeability forces air through millions of sub-micron sized holes, creating a uniform distribution of air, minimizing concerns of wrinkles/fold-overs. Porous Media™ is known for its robust nature, allowing customers to have confidence in uniform distribution, repeatedly. Polystyrene sheets are very sensitive to airflow, so consistency in uniform distribution was critical to Multi-plastics.
  3. Additional Cooling
    Multi-plastics’ operating environment creates film at ~500℉ and needs to be cooled down to less than 90℉ to be wound. Their production features cooling rolls, but the dwell time spent there impacts production time. Air Turns provide extra cooling during film production, improving overall production time.

One remaining complicating factor was the high-temperature operations present at Multi-plastics. While the original Air Turn was not specifically designed for these environments, New Way worked with Bell and the Multi-plastics team to customize the solution.

New Way Develops High-Temperature Customizations for Multi-plastics

“They didn’t give up on it. They were very good to work with,” remarks Bell.
Warehouse holding several large rolls of polystyrene.
He is referring to the commitment New Way had to help Multi-plastics meet their unique requirements for the high-temperature operating conditions.

Through a series of operational trials, New Way engineered an Air Turn capable of successfully operating in Multi-plastics’ environment. The result was not only a win for Multi-plastics, but also for New Way, who is now able to offer high-temperature versions in the standard Air Turns product line.

Bell has some advice for companies considering using New Way products, stating, “I’d recommend,” says Bell. “If you aren’t satisfied, just go back to New Way, and they’ll work with you to solve your issue.”

“Our customers aren’t just buying a product. With every product comes the service needed to ensure the customer’s needs are met,” says Rich Hesse, New Way technical sales manager.

Mutli-plastics Rolls Into the Future with Air Turns

Multi-plastics typically had to replace the bearings on an idler roller because of the scratches they were creating, approximately every four months. Now, four months after replacing the idler roller with the Air Turn, Multi-plastics has:

  • Saved on part replacement costs
  • Decreased the quantity of damaged product
  • Improved operations time with additional cooling

This success gave Bell and the Multi-plastics team the confidence to purchase three more high-temperature Air Turns for other production lines.

“New Way looks forward to continuing our relationship with Multi-plastics to offer solutions to improve their flexible film production,” states Hesse.

If you’d like to learn more about Air Turns, be sure to check out our free Ebook, Improving Roll-to-Roll Processing with Air Turns. Our technical sales staff also offers a free consultation on using New Way products in your application. Contact us today!

Blair Bell

Engineering Manager, Multiplastics

Rich Hesse

Technical Sales Manager, New Way Air Bearings

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation