Tough markets not bagging packaging industry

by Mark A. DeSorbo

Stephen Van Someren sells protection, but it's not the kind depicted in mob-related movies.

The protection Van Someren, president of Cleanfilm Inc. (Islandia, NY), sells can be as large as bulk rolls of film to as tiny as the postage-stamp-sized packet that cost less than 25 cents.

And he is quick to point out that Cleanfilm, and other purveyors, do not just sell bags. Whether it is an exotically lubricated multi-bearing device or a pair of Nitrile gloves, the role of the nylon, plastic, polyethylene, polypropylene or PTFE packaging is to maintain cleanliness and sterility, thus protecting the integrity of the contents.

The bread and butter for most manufacturers and distributors of packaging materials are the intricate parts created for semiconductor, microelectronic and medical devices. The continued push toward smaller and faster components, especially in the storage arena, has created a huge demand for plastic packaging that not only keeps tiny intricate parts clean, but also does not outgas to contaminate the controlled environment they are packaged in.

But given the present depressed state of the semiconductor and other industries, demand for packaging is not what it used to be.

“It's mildly depressed because of the semiconductor industry, but it's starting to show some heartbeat,” Van Someren says. “What drives the market are people who make all the small pieces for all the devices out there; pipe fittings for gas delivery systems, solenoids and sensors.”

The demand for a more cost-effective, cleaner, clearer and stronger packaging material to maintain the integrity of the product, however, continues to change market offerings, says Michael Fisher, president of Fisher Container Corp. (Buffalo Grove, IL).

“We've witnessed a resurgence in the demand for cleaner materials,” Fisher says. “What the customer is asking for is not only something that is cleaner than low-density polyethylene and has greater tensile, puncture-resistant strength and better moisture and transmission, but a product that reduces their costs.”

Echoing Fisher, Van Someren says there is indeed a deeper desire in the marketplace for films with low outgassing and low surface-contamination transfer. “On the precision side, we're seeing a demand for purer polyethylene and we're seeing a lot of interest in laminated films,” he adds.

Fisher Container and Cleanfilm couldn't be more direct competitors, with each having their own solution to meet demands.

PC 2000, Fisher's answer to the call, is a low-density polyethylene material that the company says is ideal for packaging wafer boxes, medical devices, cleanroom garments and cleanroom disposable products.

The bags are available in gauges from 0.001 to 0.0010 millimeters, and in custom sizes ranging from 2-in. by 4-in. to 47-in. by 48-in. flat bags. Fisher Container also sells bottom- and side-gussetted bags as well as rollstock in continuous tube and centerfold formats.

“Even if you are using a heavy gauge material from 0.0025 and heavier, you can reduce the gauge to show a cost savings and at the same time have a cleaner package that retains the same strength to protect the integrity of the product,” Fisher says.

Van Someren says Cleanfilm answers consumer demands with its ULO poly film—”ULO” meaning ultra low outgassing. “It's designed for higher demanding products, such as optics, precision bearings and wafers,” he adds.

It is available in standard thickness of 0.004 mm and custom in thicknesses of 0.002, 0.003, 0.005 and 0.006 millimeters.

Cleanfilm also forms ULO into tubing that is available in widths from two inches to 60 inches as well as standard roll lengths of 500 and 1,000 feet. ULO bags are available in flat sizes from 2 in. by 2 in. to 22 in. by 36 in. Gusseted bags, according to Cleanfilm are available by custom order only, while ULO center fold are available in 36-in. and 60-in. widths.

Clean packaging, however, is catching on.

“Some companies that make screws and bolts are now getting into cleanrooms,” Van Someren says. “Their customers are saying they want them clean, packed and ready to go. There are a lot of interesting industries that are being brought into the realm of a cleaning and packing process.”

Sebastian Russo, sales and marketing manager for Connecticut Clean Room Corp., which distributes Fisher Container products, (Bristol, CT), agrees.

Recently, Connecticut Clean Room outfitted nearby Park City Packaging, a contract corrugated and industrial packaging firm, with an ISO Class 7 softwall cleanroom.

“I'm not sure if it's a trend or something that is completely off the wall,” Russo adds. “The calls are few and far between, but there are many out there that feel they have more success when that final packaging is done in a clean environment.”

Cleanroom packaging players
Berkshire Corporation North America
21 River Street; PO Box 588
Great Barrington, MA 01230-0588
Phone: (800) 242-7000
Fax: (413) 528-2614

Barefoot Products
101 North Adams Street
Ritzville, WA 99169
Phone: (509) 659-1829
Fax: (509) 659-1777

BF Goodrich Co.
Static Polymer Division
9911 Brecksville Road
Brecksville, OH 44141
Phone: (216) 447-5000
Fax: (216) 447-6232

Cleanfilm Inc.
95 Hoffman Lane, Suite 9
Islandia, NY 11749-5012
Phone: (888) 264-3456
Fax: (631) 582-3589

Fisher Container Corp.
Precision Clean Division
1111 Busch Parkway
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
Phone: (847) 541-0000
Fax: (847) 541-0075

High-Tech Conversions Inc.
7 Taylor Road
Enfield, CT 06082
Phone: (860) 749-1622
Fax: (860) 749-0747

KNF Clean Room Products Corp.
1800 Ocean Avenue
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Phone: (800) 777-2532
Fax: (631) 588-7836

Liberty Industries Inc.
133 Commerce Street
East Berlin, CT 06023
Phone: (800) 828-5656
Fax: (860) 828-8879

Benchmark Products Inc.
531 Bank Lane
Highwood, IL 60040
Phone: (847) 433-3500
Fax: (847) 847-433-3545

Cameron & Barkley Co.
5255 Spring Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phone: (612) 378-7300
Fax: (612) 623-9038

Cintas Cleanroom Resources Division
2221 Willwool Drive
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 286-9982
Fax: (408) 286-9983

Connecticut Cleanroom Corp.
32 Valley Street
Bristol, CT 06011-0840
Phone: (860) 589-0049
Fax: (860) 585-7355

High-Tech Conversions Inc.
7 Taylor Road; Enfield, CT 06082
Phone: (860) 749-1622
Fax: (860) 749-0747

Metron Technology
Cleanroom Division

2019 McKenzie Drive, Suite 150
Carollton, TX 75006
Phone: (972) 488-1811
Fax: (972) 241-6298

Micro Equipment Co.
1815 NW 169th Place, Suite 1080
Beaverton, OR 97006
Phone: (800) 552-4117; (503) 533-0719
Fax: (503) 439-8257

Newform UltraClean Packaging
(Divison of ATMi Inc.)
Reugelstraat 2
3320 Hoegaarden, Belgium
Phone: (32) 16-76-61-59
Fax: (32) 16-767625

Prudential Cleanroom Services
1661 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606
Phone: (800) 252-7710
Fax: (949) 261-1947

Qosina Corp.
Qosmedix Division

150 Q Executive Drive
Edgewood, NY 11717
Phone: (631) 242-3000
Fax: (631) 242-3230

Ultrapure Technology
325 Brogdon Road
Suwanee, GA 30024
Phone: (800) 932-0309
Fax: (770) 932-0809

VWR Scientific Products
1310 Goshen Parkway
Westchester, PA 19380
Phone: (800)-932-5000


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