PLA foam extrusion line with tandem extruders

Film and sheet extrusion machinery supplier Macro Engineering & Technology (Canada) has introduced a new extrusion line to produce polylactic acid (PLA) foam.

The line uses tandem extruders to produce foamed PLA sheet between 1.2 and 5 mm thick and up to 1,270 mm wide with a foam density of 0.07 g/cc (16x expansion ratio).

The sheet can be thermoformed into compostable clamshell packaging and trays used for cold food applications.

Macro says it uses a proprietary new extruder design to address obstacles that are inherent to foaming PLA, namely working around the material’s low melt strength, melt crystallinity and narrow processing window. The result is uniform melt temperature distribution and reliable foaming.

The company also says it is actively developing new technologies for use with this extrusion line to expand the application range of foamed PLA. Recent trials at Macro’s R&D lab have shown promise for hot-fill applications using thermoformed PLA foam as an alternative to polystyrene packaging.


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