Blown film cooling equipment manufacturer Addex is celebrating 30 years in the plastics industry.

The company, co-founded by president Bob Cree and former president and current chairman of the board Rick von Kraus entered the blown film industry in 1989 with the introduction of the first hybrid analog/digital microprocessor-based Internal Bubble Cooling (IBC) control system.

The IBC went 100 per cent digital in the early 2000s – a patented industry first – along with the addition of a ‘quick-changeover’ feature, high-speed servo valve, and split sensors to deliver the fastest reaction time in the industry, ensuring the tightest possible layflat control.

In 1994, Addex launched its patented horizontal oscillating haul-off, functionally named Gauge Band Randomizer (GBR), which included anti-web wander and anti-camber features – again industry firsts. In 2009, the GBR line was extended to operate vertically while integrating a patented equal and opposite accumulation of film to eliminate line speed variation common to vertical designs.

Another key milestone came in 1995 when Addex made a significant advancement in gauge control, introducing the patented Internal Gauge Control (IGC), an internal-to-bubble, IBC-based gauge control system. With resolution in excess of 360 zones and advanced measurement capability, the control capability within 1 deg of resolution is still the best resolution in the industry, claims Addex.

In 2004, in response to processors’ need for a simple-to-operate, cost-effective gauge control system, the company introduced the fully manual Manual Gauge Control (MGC) with individually-adjustable control bolts, as well as Addex’s patented External Gauge Control (EGC), which cuts controllable thickness variation by over 50 per cent. In 2013, the tandem external gauge control was introduced, adding a bubble stabilising lower ring to sit ‘flat to the die’ and increase output rate.

In 2001, Addex’s foray into die design produced the patented REDI die – a side-fed, stackable die. Cree used the concept of regular division of the plane to interlace flows of polymer through the die, named the REDI die. The REDI die is Cree’s die of choice on the Addex R&D line since it is modular and streamlined, allowing it to process difficult-to-run materials.

Most recently, Addex introduced its patented air ring design called Intensive Cooling, which has eclipsed all previous industry developments in terms of increased output and bubble stability, becoming the first major advancement since the company narrowed its product mix to focus exclusively on blown film cooling.

Introduced at K 2016, Intensive Cooling began as a stackable configuration of two to four cooling elements, which were fully enclosed and mounted between the die and the air ring. Using air from each cooling element flowing in opposite directions to create a vacuum, bubble stability was greatly improved, which in turn led to massive output gains.

The output gains were too great for the retrofit market, however, so the company replaced the lower lips in an Addex air ring with just a single, aerodynamically-designed Intensive Cooling element.

Addex licensed the original stackable design to other OEMs for use on new lines, while entering the retrofit market with these down-on-the-die Intensive Cooling air rings. The company has sold more than 100 Intensive Cooling air rings into diverse applications from bag making, to lamination films, to barrier—and is especially popular when combined with the company’s EGC automatic profile control capability.

Addex is now entering Phase 2 of Intensive Cooling development. The company is examining the design of other components in the blown film process, such as the main air lip design, air collars and IBC – all to optimise total system performance in combination with Intensive Cooling.

“We’ve recently focused vertically with blown film cooling as our core business mission, and we work very hard to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and engineering,” said Cree.