The biaxal orientation process is a method utilized in the manufacturing of polymer-based films. It enhances many material properties, including mechanical, optical, barrier, and porosity characteristics. In our previous article, Enhancing Mechanical Properties with Plastics Orientation, we described how this specialized orientation method can lead to the formation of a mechanically stronger polymer film. In that article, we focused primarily on the structure of the film itself rather than its cosmetic properties. In this article, we will concentrate more closely on the optical properties that result from the biaxial orientation process and, specifically, the cosmetic appearance benefits produced by this specialized orientation technique.
What are the cosmetic properties produced through the biax orientation process?
1. Clarity and Transparency- Biaxially oriented polymer films often exhibit improved clarity compared to their non-oriented counterparts. This is due to the reduced light scattering in these aligned polymer chains compared with unoriented, amorphous polymer structures, which can cause light to scatter because of the film’s irregular optical qualities.
2. Gloss- The alignment of polymer chains through the biax orientation process also results in the enhanced surface gloss of a plastic film, contributing to a more attractive and polished appearance. This visual outcome is particularly beneficial for those products in which aesthetics play a critical role, such as packaging for consumer goods.
3. Shrinkage- If desired, biaxial orientation can also be used to impart heat-shrink properties to certain polymer materials. This technique is commonly utilized in shrink film applications where the material conforms tightly to the product it is covering, providing a form fitting and visually appealing packaging solution.
Overall, the stretching of a polymer film in two perpendicular directions (the machine direction, or MD, and transverse direction, or TD) involved in the biax orientation process provides a well-structured format for these polymers to benefit in the clarity and shine of their final appearance, as well as form-fitting shrinkage qualities if desired. Due to these cosmetic properties impacting the optics of a plastic polymer film, biaxially oriented films are ideal for use in beverage bottles and food packaging, displays and signage, transparent containers, labeling and graphics, and photographic films, to name just a few of the many applications which benefit from the biaxial orientation method.
At Parkinson Technologies, our Marshall and Williams Plastics biaxial orientation line of equipment is made to orient polymer-based materials to reach their greatest potential of surface shine and visual appeal as well as structural stability. For more information about our Marshall and Williams brand of biaxial orientation equipment, or to find which orientation type would be best suited to fit your unique business needs, please fill out the form below.