The need for protective equipment during the pandemic has boosted demand for flat die systems, according to Nordson Corp., which engineers and manufactures extrusion dies and other plastics processing equipment.
“Our company’s EDI Ultraflex sheet extrusion dies have been put into service for producing PVC, acrylic and polycarbonate shields, face guards, sneeze guards and barriers,” said Patrick Meinen, global product line manager at Nordson. “Our Premier fixed-lip slot dies are now used for coating fabrics and filter membranes specifically intended to protect against COVID-19.”
Slot coating dies can be used to laminate multiple different substrates to improve multi-barrier air filters, according to the company.
Companies also are buying Nordson dies to coat nonwoven gowns with a polymer that serves as a protective, breathable barrier, Meinen said.
Nordson also reported increased demand for sheet dies for PVC face shields and protective barriers.
Palram Americas Ltd., Kutztown, Pa., ordered a new Ultraflex sheet die, plus additional lips for diversifying the thicknesses of the sheet it produces on its existing Ultraflex dies. The company produces PVC and PC sheet for construction, safety and security, home and garden, and other uses. It recently added a line of COVID-19-related products, including PVC sheet designed for making sneeze guards, face shields and clear barriers to separate people in public environments. Details about the COVID-19 products are available at https://go.palram.com/us/covid19.
Clear sheet for barriers and partitions is in high demand, said Brenda Hogan, director of marketing for Palram Americas. The company recently switched over production on one of its lines from foamed PVC to clear PVC to meet the demand.
At the same time, another Nordson customer that normally specializes in building products has ordered additional lips for its EDI sheet dies to manufacture clear PVC face shields.
A third Nordson customer on a rush basis ordered three dies for coating filter membranes that the company said would be used in medical applications to curb the spread of the virus.
“While there continues to be a strong demand for personal protective equipment used in clinical settings, there is now also an urgent need for shields and barriers to facilitate the opening up of workplaces, retail establishments and public spaces after weeks of lockdown,” Meinen said.
In some cases, companies that produce flexible packaging or building and construction materials are repurposing some of their equipment, possibly including retired lines, to make products for fighting the novel coronavirus, Meinen said. That is fueling the demand for additional flat dies.
Nordson has seen an increase in sales of BKG gear pumps and screen changers as manufacturers produce medical masks, gowns and other protective equipment used by health-care workers. Nordson has shipped numerous BKG BlueFlow gear pumps to companies around the world, including facilities in China and Germany.
“In China, there were a couple of automotive manufacturers very early on in the pandemic that completely switched over their automotive manufacturing lines to manufacturing medical masks,” said Kelly Harings, Nordson’s global marketing manager.
In the melt blowing process, extruded polymer passes through small holes in a nozzle surrounded by high-speed blowing gas, producing the randomly oriented microfibers that make up nonwoven sheet. A gear pump provides the uniform melt flow and pressure that is required for process efficiency uniform product quality, the company said.
Nordson Corp., Chippewa Falls, Wis., 715-726-1201, www.nordsonpolymerprocessing.com