Extreme measures

ExxonMobil has launched Exceed XP, a flexible packaging film named for ‘extreme performance’ and aimed at applications like films for soft shrink and food lamination packaging

One of the standout products at this year’s Arabplast, held in Dubai on 9–11 January, was ExxonMobil’s latest performance enhancing flexible packaging film Exceed XP.

Launched in October at K-2016 in Dusseldorf, the film’s superior resistance offers significant opportunities for downgauging, Oliver Lorge, PE global market development manager for plastics and resins, told Packaging MEA.

“This is our new brand. ‘XP’ means ‘Extreme Performance’,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity to achieve more than what you already are achieving with flexible packaging. When you move from rigid to flexible packaging you can save 50% of material cost. When you use the Exceed XP, you can further downgauge your flexible packaging by 30%.”

Lorge added that this saves in costs and material and reduces how much matter has to be recycled or sent to landfill.

“So our goal with this new material is to improve the mechanical properties that brand owners are looking for,” he said.

“I would also give you an example of pouches that very often contain liquid. What’s very important for brand owners is the flexcrack resistance of the material. If the pack leaks you will have to throw away the entire boxes, which has a very bad impression.”

These new grades deliver exceptional performance advantages for resin converters and end-users in applications that include films for soft-shrink and food lamination packaging and greenhouses.

Exceed XP’s extreme flex-crack and dart impact resistance is a new reference, according to ExxonMobil. Compared to the current best in class, it reduces significantly the number of pin-holes generated by flex-crack.

“We have a customer in Indonesia that had some issue with some sachets that contained liquid, which developed a leakage due to the weight of the stacked packs,” said Lorge. “Now as he is using our product, he does not have the leaks anymore and has no more complains from his customers.”

The recently launched Exceed XP portfolio is also being enhanced with two new grades – Exceed XP 6026 and Exceed XP 6056 – that provide customers with additional options for applications that require extreme performance, he added.

“Since its launch, Exceed XP has been exceptionally well received in the market with customers reporting an unprecedented level of mechanical and processing performance,” he said. “These new grades will broaden this impact.”

Exceed XP 6026 and Exceed XP 6056 are designed to provide outstanding processability with enhanced toughness, flex-crack resistance, sealability, balanced shrink performance, and good optical properties. For converters, the high melt strength of these polymers promotes greater bubble stability and improved output.

Exceed XP allows converters to costeffectively fabricate films for extreme protection and preservation in a range of applications that include:

  • Soft-shrink packaging film with controlled holding force and toughness for high-integrity wrap, overwrap and bundle packaging solutions that help brand owners protect delicate and irregularly shaped products from manufacturer to end-use. This includes food products like pizza, meat and cheese; delicate products including bathroom and kitchen tissues; and, irregularly-shaped products such as office supplies, stationery items, and air filters. Using Exceed XP, converters can enhance their business through new opportunities, more stable operations, and simplified formulations. They can use existing extrusion equipment, including monolayer lines, for a market which previously required investment in new machinery.
  • Food packaging films, including pouches and bags with the extreme toughness and sealing performance that enable brand owners to protect frozen or dry foods, meat, and cheese products from production to consumption. The melt strength and toughness of Exceed XP provide film downgauging opportunities while performance is maintained. The performance and processing capabilities of these Exceed XP grades allow converters to simplify product inventories, which can lower costs.

“These new performance polymers are part of our commitment to helping our customers achieve sustainable business growth,” said Cindy Shulman, plastics and resins vice president, ExxonMobil Chemical. “It is by sharing knowledge and working in collaboration across the value chain that helps us create differentiated solutions for applications where extreme performance matters.”

In the Middle East where it is still “early days” for Exceed XP there is “a little bit of competitive advantage” that customers want to still clearly understand said Lorge.

Meanwhile, Gertrud Masure, Vistamaxx market development manager EMEAF (Solution Performance Plastics Business) told Packaging MEA that ExxonMobil is also targeting the MEA region with low viscosity Vistamaxx polymers to improve processing and end-use properties of polyolefin compounds.

Masure claimed Vistamaxx maintains or improves cycle times of polyolefin compounds using Vistamaxx 8880, enables processing and end-use product performance to be tailored even more, and improves products like non-slippery TPE grips or stay-flat carpet tiles.

Earlier ExxonMobil introduced its low-viscosity Vistamaxx performance polymers at K2016 that which can be used to maintain or improve cycle times of injection-moulded or extruded applications. Vistamaxx 8880 improves the flow and processing of polyolefin compounds which contain Vistamaxx 6202 or 6502, or are heavily filled.

“Vistamaxx polymers are used for compound modification at dosage levels of 5–15% to enhance properties such as impact strength and clarity, while reducing stress whitening,” said Masure. “For applications such as grips, however, dosage levels have to be much higher to achieve the required performance improvements which can result in longer cycle times.”

The introduction of low-viscosity Vistamaxx 8880 can overcome this by offering equivalent cycle times.

“Compounders can now tailor processing and end-use product performance even more by using Vistamaxx 8880 to modify viscosity,” said Masure. ”They can achieve product improvements by including Vistamaxx 6202 and 6502 in their formulations, while processing performance can be maintained or enhanced by using low viscosity Vistamaxx 8880 in the same formulations.”

For compounders, adding Vistamaxx 8880 to a formulation enhances the moulding process by reducing injection pressure due to its low viscosity and cooling efficiency. With controlled cooling temperature, cycle times can be achieved that are comparable to styreneethylene- butylene-styrene (SEBS) compounds used for soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) components such as grips and other soft-touch overmoulding TPE applications.

In the consumer perspective, when you buy your products from the shelf, there should not be holes and it should have good seal integrity and things like that, said Masure.

“We really want to speak to the end user,” she said. “Instead of saying our film has a better toughness, what that means to the brand owner is more important. So we start by describing our product in the consumer perspective. We then translate what the consumer needs and are looking for in a package, into technical properties in our products.”

Speaking about ExxonMobil’s plans for the region this year Masure said, “As we move on this year and the next there will be some opportunities that come up for this product.”

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