High-performance PLA polymer blend expands bioplastics’ potential

By Array Array in Sustainable Packaging on May 19, 2015

Floreon’s patented polymer formulation yields PLA-based polymer blends suitable for thermoformed and injection-molded packaging that also show promise for film and blow-molding operations.

 

Bioplastic technology company Floreon Transforming Packaging Ltd, Hull, U.K., has been granted a patent for Floreon, a biodegradable, polyester-based polymer blend of a standard bioplastic, polylactic acid (PLA). The patented technology yields a resin that is much tougher and easier to process than current materials and has the potential to expand the uses of bioplastics.

                                                                                  

Produced from sustainable (plant) feedstock, conventional PLA has been characterized for lack of toughness and a tendency to lose strength during storage in warm conditions, which has limited its use.  

 

Floreon is a PLA-based bioplastic suitable for manufacturing articles such as bottles, but with improved mechanical, physical, chemical and thermal properties. Not only does Floreon have improved toughness, higher strength and durability compared to PLA, but it is also recyclable, biodegradable and requires far less energy to process compared to rival products.

 

Bill Stringer, commercial director, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions about this breakthrough bioplastic.

 

What is the approximate ratio of PLA-to-polyester to create Floreon materials?

Stringer: It varies slightly depending on the grade, but typically the finished compound will contain, by weight, 90% PLA and 10% of our added polyesters. We add two different polyesters, typically making up 5% each; a typical formula is 90% PLA plus 5% polyester 1 and 5% of polyester 2.

 

Is there anything novel about the process to create Floreon?

Stringer: The novelty described in the patent is really about how the two added polyesters work together to enhance the flow characteristics of the material and also enhance the final mechanical properties. The compounds are prepared on a standard compounding line while the [enhanced performance] is due to the formulation.

 

What types of containers and processes is this applicable for related to packaging?

Stringer: Floreon was primarily developed for injection molding, where the improved flow characteristics allow for thinner moldings and the use of lower temperatures, which can also help improve cycle times. We've also found it's very good for thermoforming and sheet applications. These are the applications we'd like to guide people towards.

 

At the same time, through various trials and enquiries we've found we can achieve promising results in things like blown film production and extrusion blow molding, however we haven't focused on these application areas yet. We're aiming to get a better understanding of what we can achieve in these areas over the next 12 months.

 

Purely by chance we also found that Floreon works really well for 3D printing so we also have a grade available for this application; our own filament should be available to buy online soon.

 

For more information, visit Floreon Transforming Packaging Ltd.

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