Modern polythene tunnel covers are made up from multiple layers, normally three, but there are a number of machines already producing agricultural films with five layers.
The new production facility in Crete features a seven layer extrusion line and is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world which is dedicated to just producing high end horticulture/agriculture films.
The industry standard on film thickness is ± 15 per cent but the new seven layer machine works to a thickness tolerance of just ± 3 per cent. It has a number of worldwide patents, both on the machinery and on some of the new products that it will produce.
XL Horticulture's Les Lane said: "Chief among the patented new products is a single cover that can be de-laminated by a low pressure air blower to make two different covers - once it is on the structure.
"Installation costs should be little more than a single skin cover giving considerable cost savings over conventional twin skin systems. Twin skins are widely used in Scandinavia and the USA and are able to give good light levels as well as a 60 per cent reduction in heating costs. The films can also be engineered to retain all the benefits of the spectral filter films that XL have pioneered and are famous for.
"What most growers don’t realise is that films sold with an AF additive are really only anti-drip additives which break down the surface tension of the droplets so that the condensation runs down the cover as a thin film of water. This type of anti-condensate normally only remains effective for up to two seasons and does not reduce the fog in the greenhouse, which normally occurs at dawn and dusk.
"The seven layer line will produce films with a new development from Plastika Kritis which will prevent both the condensation and the fog in the greenhouse. Another world first is that it will also remain effective for the entire lifetime of the film."
XL Horticulture expects to have seven layer films available from September 2015 but because of the volatility of polymer prices at present it is not able to predict likely costs.