Direct-to-sheet extrusion for APET and PET
The cost of manufacturing amorphous PET (APET) and PET could be significantly reduced thanks to a direct-to-sheet extrusion technique that eliminates drying and melting of the resin. Instead, a resin reactor creates the product directly from the raw material.
Octal, based in Salalah, Oman, the company behind the technology and owner of the world’s largest twin APET and PET sheet complex, believes the process will encourage growth of the clear rigid plastics industry.
The manufacture of APET and PET typically requires a granulated resin from a third-party supplier. However, with the direct-to-sheet process, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) are produced onsite before being melted directly onto the machines’ rollers, eliminating the need for a granule form.
‘Getting rid of the preparation of the resin uses about 35% less energy [than traditional manufacturing methods],’ explains Nick Barakat, CEO of Octal. ‘We can also achieve a resin that is much stiffer, clearer and cleaner with no contamination because there is no thermal degradation.’
The direct-to-sheet process could help deliver clear rigid packaging on a larger scale, enabling buyers to switch large segments of their packaging lines to clear rigid plastics. ‘To convert today’s packages [from PVC] you need huge amounts of APET and PET,’ says Barakat. ‘What we have done is put massive capacity and availability on one site to support the market and grow the industry.’
He also believes that the system is a good way to comply with the REACH legislation introduced in June 2007. ‘We have complete traceability on the resin we buy and everything we make in-house, and because we have eliminated the need to transport and process the resin we have reduced our carbon footprint,’ adds Barakat.