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High Slip Polythene Additives: The Secret Weapon in Automation

In many ways, packaging at scale is easier and simpler than doing limited runs. For a start, it’s all automated, with very little human effort required to produce huge quantities of packaged goods.

But the effort does have to go in somewhere – and it really goes in at the beginning – at the design phase. And we’re not talking aesthetics here. We mean functional packaging design; the often overlooked element when people talk about designing packaging.

Designing packaging for automation is different in a lot of ways to manual packaging materials, and one key difference is speed. Obviously, automated lines take less time, but materials have to perform consistently to avoid breakdowns and packaging system jams. High slip polythene additives are the secret weapon behind the packaging automation processes, allowing for the highest possible speeds. High slip polythene additives keep material moving freely, prevent products from getting caught on packaging, and greatly reduce system downtimes overall.


Abstract art, ombre, pinks, purples, black – depicting the chemicals used as high slip polythene additives.


How high slip additives work

Similar materials have a tendency to stick to one another. This is especially true when pressure, machine heat and other variables are applied. High slip polythene additives help make polythene films extra slippery, reducing the potential for sticking or friction.

High slip additives are simple fatty acids, mixed into the masterbatch before extrusion. They bloom to the surface of the film once it has cooled after being blown. This process of migration to the surface can take quite some time to complete – seven to ten days for a full surface migration is not uncommon – but the majority is achieved within 48 hours.

Once the slip additives reach the surface, they form an invisible shell structure of crystals that decrease surface friction.

Low slip polythene additives do the opposite; they make polythene grippier, making it useful for pallet loading and stacking heavy polythene bags.

Learn more about polythene additives

At its core, high slip polythene is designed to reduce the friction and enhance the slip properties of the film. Polythene film with high slip additives slides over itself readily – making it useful for form fill and seal automation, where polythene routinely runs over itself when being made into the right shape.. 

It also reduces the friction on packaging machinery, lowering the risk of jams – and it also slides easily over the products being packaged. In automated packaging systems, where speed and precision are essential, high slip polythene keeps operations running smoothly and consistently.

Automation benefits of high slip film

High slip polythene additives are particularly useful in automated packaging. By providing a low friction surface, high slip polythene enables better and more predictable automated packaging.

In automated packaging lines, where productivity and uptime are critical, high slip polythene can make the difference between hitting production targets and falling flat due to machine downtime. By reducing the risk of film jams, tears and misfeeds, high slip polythene helps to maximise throughput and minimise the need for manual intervention, allowing packaging lines to run at peak performance.

Designing the slip properties is key to success. Different levels of friction coefficient can be achieved, and tuning this to each packaging line is important; some friction may still be required for gripping the packaging at important phases in the line, such as sealing, so this needs to be considered.

Other uses of high slip polythene

Polythene sleeves are tight by design, and this can make filling them (on automated or manual lines) a challenge. Any additional friction with such tight tolerances is going to be a factor in packaging speed. High slip polythene sleeves are generally preferable for this reason – especially when it comes to packaging for vinyl records.

End users will continuously use polythene sleeves to protect records from dust, UV damage and scrapes. So, it makes sense that high slip polythene sleeves would be used to make removing and reinserting the record much easier.

High slip polythene additives are also particularly useful for clothing packaging and textiles, where friction can be unpredictable (especially on printed garments). It can also be really useful for packaging larger, bulkier items, where lots of surface area could potentially stick to the packaging.

High slip polythene for automated packaging

Order polythene with additives – including high slip, low slip, and anti static additives. With custom blends and additives available, you’ll get the best possible packaging for your automated system. Get a quote now or call us on 01773 820415 to start your order.