Toolmaker Boosts Productivity by 35% with Space-Saving Skin Packaging

Facing demand from retailers for packaging that takes less space, Greenfield Industries, a major tool manufacturer, turned to film using DuPont™ Surlyn® resin and new Zed skin packaging equipment to flexibly handle high-volume packaging for a variety of tools. With Surlyn® film and the new equipment, Greenfield increased packaging productivity by 35 percent.

The Challenge

Greenfield Industries, based in Deerfield, Massachusetts, manufactures diameter drills, spiral drills, reciprocal saws, saber saws, band saws, circular saws, hole saws, routers, carbide products, saw blades, and drill bits. Its products are sold under several different brand names at home improvement centers nationwide, including Home Depot.

“Buyers from stores like Home Depot have their own merchandising requirements, but they all like skin packaging because the packages take up the least amount of space,” said Karl Glawischnig, process engineer for Greenfield’s packaging department.

Greenfield’s current skin packaging equipment was old and no longer able to keep up with growing retailer demand for nearly 100 million units per year.

The Solution

Greenfield purchased two Zed Skin-n-Trim machines with magnetic boards that hold the products in place. These machines were able to use film made of Surlyn® ionomer resin to improve both the quality and speed of skin packaging different shaped tools.

The Zed machine can produce five master cards per minute. The operator loads products onto the master cards, which are skin-packed automatically with Surlyn® film. The puncture resistance of Surlyn® together with the machine’s vacuum control system eliminates webs and popping holes.

Carbon-tipped spiral drills are among the heaviest items packaged. The one-inch drill, which weighs 1/2 lb., is placed on 24-point SBS board. The drill is securely held to the board by 10-mil film of Surlyn®.

Key Advantages

Greenfield chose Surlyn® for use in its Zed high-speed skin packaging equipment because of its outstanding performance properties:

  • Faster Processing: Surlyn® absorbs infrared heat at about twice the rate of PE. Its ability to soften more quickly in the heating phase speeds up the whole packaging process, allowing around 40% more packaging cycles in the same time frame.
  • Better Puncture Resistance: Surlyn® film is not easily punctured by the pointed and sharp edges of saws, drill bits, and other tools.
  • Tamper Resistance and Improved Product Security: Films made with Surlyn® are highly resistant to tampering. It is very difficult to remove the product from its package without leaving obvious signs that the package was compromised.
  • Better Resistance to Board Curl: Compared with LDPE, Surlyn® has a higher shrink force in the molten phase, for perfect draw, but a lower shrinkforce in the solid state. This eliminates unsightly board curl and prevents objects from being deformed.
  • Better Chemical Resistance: Films made with Surlyn® resins are resistant to grease and oil, which are often used for packaging products like tools, and it will not corrode unplated metals.
  • Better Resistance to Aging: Films made with Surlyn® do not become brittle with age, even when packaging the heaviest tools.
  • Cold-Weather Durability: Films made with Surlyn® retain all their properties down to -40°C, minimizing low-temperature impact breakage during transit and storage.
  • Excellent Adhesion to Primed and Non-Primed Board: Surlyn® provides outstanding adhesion to primed board, and Surlyn® co-extruded with highly transparent Bynel® adhesive resin provides outstanding adhesion to non-primed board.

Delivering Production and Cost Efficiencies

“Skinning is a very effective and relatively inexpensive way to package our products,” Karl Glawischnig commented.

With the new Zed equipment and Surlyn® film, Greenfield was able to run a high-volume skin packaging operation, increasing its production rate by nearly 35 percent, allowing it to fulfill demand for nearly 100 million units annually.That’s no small gain on the nearly 100 million tools Greenfield makes and packages each year.