The Dutch company PolyMX has developed a synthetic ejection material for die-cutting called Polytop MX. Although more expensive than conventional ejection materials, Polytop MX has been received enthusiastically by die makers and paper and board producers, because it improves quality and saves costs.
At a round table discussion, PolyMX director, Cees van Golverdingen and marketing and communication manager, Melissa van Golverdingen, as well as Andrew Powell, technical specialist from die-makers, DieVision, and Renato Mediati, responsible for technical support at VPK Packaging, explained their experiences with Polytop MX in practice.
Die-maker comes a-calling
Having gained many years’ experience in the adhesives industry, Cees established PolyMX in 2000. Initially the company produced goods for the equestrian sector, then followed products for the construction and machine industry, and later for the maritime sector.
In 2004, a visitor to PolyMX from the die-cutting industry came in search of a solution for rubber material on dies. He had been experiencing problems with quality, dimensional stability and inconsistency in hardness of the materials available.
‘We began working on the problem and in 2006 came up with the first samples,’ Cees explains. ‘We launched the products on the market in 2007. Since then we’re active in 15 countries, where we supply our material direct.’
The family-owned business currently employs a team of six but the search is now on for two additional production workers to handle anticipated growth. ‘Growth is not a goal in itself,’ Cees emphasises. ‘We have no intention of supplying Polytop MX to every die-maker. We’re very selective and have opted to collaborate only with those wishing to enter into a partnership. Our partners have to be willing to invest in the product.’
A few years ago, PolyMX came into contact with die-maker, DieVision, and corrugated cardboard producers, VPK Packaging. Andrew Powell, technical specialist at DieVision takes up the story: ‘We were enthusiastic about PolyMX and, together with our customer VPK Packaging, immediately carried out a test. We quickly saw this as the solution to numerous problems and the technical support provided by PolyMX gave us further confidence. It is now far simpler for us to produce a die that delivers constant quality with fewer complaints.’ Adding to this he notes: ‘The wear resistance and constant quality of Polytop MX are the product’s strongest points. Hardness is constant, with a useful feature being that each hardness comes in its own colour for confirmation of correct assembly at a glance.’ Other benefits, according to Andrew, are the certainty that there are no height differences and the slightly higher cost is easy to recoup being able to work faster, at a constant speed, while experiencing none of the usual quality complaints.
Renato Mediati of VPK Packaging confirms Andrew’s assessment. ‘The greatest advantages for us are operating at higher speeds, the increased life of the dies and the quality of the finished product reduce customer complaints,’ he notes.
‘A common problem is tearing of inner liners. This was also a regularly-recurring complaint at VPK, leading to major problems on the packaging line. Those problems have now been eliminated with our rotary dies fitted with Polytop MX.
On just one rotary die we achieve a material saving of around €25,000/annum thanks to waste saving. The level of saving varies but one thing is certain, that Polytop MX achieves both material savings and time gains in production.
Both Andrew Powell and Renato Mediati emphasise that, at present, rotary dies generate the greatest savings. With flatbed dies the advantages are not yet as considerable because the material is slightly more expensive and flatbed dies are largely used for smaller production runs. As a result, the initial costs are higher.
Cees comments: ‘We’re currently working on a solution that offers our material at an attractive price for flatbed dies too.’
The use of ever-lower corrugated materials is reflected in the quality, and this makes the new ejection material particularly promising for this market. Even problematic corrugated board can now be finished to high quality levels.
‘At the end of the day, everyone benefits,’ comments Melissa. ‘Effectively it’s all about sustainability. There’s less transport and less material loss; the dies have a longer lifecycle and our system allows the use of recycled board,’ she concludes.
[About the author: Gerard Molenaar, a past president of the International Packaging Press Organisation, is editor-in-chief of the Dutch monthly VerpakkingsManagement and the Dutch quarterly Verpakken. The website www.verpakkingsmanagement.nl also publishes news briefs in English.]