2020 in review: Tiny blown film line rings in the New Year

Nov. 16, 2020
A custom molder that pivoted to make and sell its own PPE product, and the tale of an affectionate 1-horsepower factory pet join the list of stories that caught our eyes this year.

Leaving the plant door open for an unusual pet, a custom molder taking his product directly to consumers and comparing post-consumer plastic to Cracker Jack are among the most interesting stories this year.

There were plenty of memorable stories and new products in the pages of Plastics Machinery Magazine in 2020. Before moving on to 2021, it is worth remembering a few of the most interesting, as selected by PMM editors and writers.

We are highlighting a few stories each week between now and the end of the year.

A present for the guy who has everything

LabTech engineers in Thailand secretly built a miniature working single-layer blown film line to present to company founder Peter Jurgensen at a New Year’s party.

That professional-quality machine eventually became LabTech’s Ultra Micro line for use in laboratories and schools.

The extruders have a conical screw and barrel with a starting diameter of 18mm, an ending diameter of 8mm and a 30:1 L:D ratio. The die and air ring use the same design as larger LabTech machines. The control unit comes with a 7-inch color touch screen.

An entire three-layer or five-layer film line complete with extruders, film tower and winder fits on a cart with rollers.


A 1-horsepower pet for the factory floor

Employees at Bruno Folcieri Srl leave the plant door open so the owner’s aging horse named Camilla can wander in from an adjacent pasture when she needs human affection. Camilla is well-acquainted with the Italian factory and knows she can find a friendly pat and maybe a treat there.

Bruno Folcieri started the company just after WWII in a small town one hour north of Milan to repair farm equipment. He built a granulator for Bakelite in the early 1950s and the second generation of the family took over the business in the 1970s, focusing on high-quality recycling equipment. Esmeralda Zoppi, now COO, is the third generation to direct the business.

The company is located in Volongo, a tiny rural village of about 500 residents. It ships massive, large-blade granulators and auxiliary equipment around the world. Those granulators all have more than one horsepower, but Camilla has nodded her approval to each one.


Cutting out the middleman

Custom injection molder Evco Plastics has produced its customers’ products for decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic led the company to create its own face shields and sell them on Amazon. But that was not what the DeForest, Wis., company set out to do initially.

Evco President Dale Evans explained that his company designed face shields for a customer and the customer chose the one it liked. But Evans liked a design the customer did not select, so the company started molding the headband from PP and worked with a nearby thermoformer to source PET face shields.

After a lengthy process to become certified by Amazon, Evco started shipping pallets of face shield kits to a central Amazon fulfillment center, from which Amazon distributes them to its regional warehouses.

Molders frequently have good product designs and available machine time. This is a fascinating story about how Evco turned that into new business.


Quote of the week

“With some materials, recycling is a little bit like Cracker Jacks — there’s a surprise in every box, so you have to always be on guard.”

Sandy Guthrie, president of ADG Solutions, on why recyclers need to understand the material coming into their plants before trying to automate operations.


Past memorable story lists: