A new report, from market research and consulting company MarketsandMarkets, analyses the flexible packaging market, its size in terms of revenue and volume, and expected growth to 2018. According to this report, the flexible packaging market is estimated to grow from $73,825.3 million in 2012 to $99,621.9 million by 2018 with a CAGR of 5.1% from 2013 to 2018.
Geographically, the report is divided into Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, and Rest of the World (ROW) and the flexible packaging market itself is broadly divided on the basis of raw materials used such as polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), polyamide (PA), biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), cellulosic, aluminium and paper. The report asserts that the market is likely to witness substantial growth in the coming years.
Food, beverage, personal care products, and pharmaceutical industries are the most important constituents of consumer packaged goods. Food packaging dominates in terms of value as well as volume and is essential in protecting and extending the shelf life of end-products. Companies enjoying substantial market share are Amcor (Australia), Sealed Air (US), Bemis Company (US), Mondi (South Africa), Huhtamäki Oyj (Finland) and Sonoco Products (US). Key industry players are increasing their business and consolidating their presence by pursuing mergers and acquisitions in potential markets. The top six players held a combined market share of around 58.0%, which leaves a lot of room for smaller enterprises. This fragmented industry structure is primarily due to the availability of number of pack types and raw materials used for flexible packaging.
Increased performance for film stretching lines
Brückner Maschinenbau introduced lines for the manufacture of high-quality BOPP films which can achieve working speeds significantly higher than the previous 525m/min. It is not just the speed that is decisive, but parameters such as availability and efficiency of the line, ease of operation and process stability have also been optimised. To this end Brückner has developed a new, innovative platform. The centrepiece is the new transport system in the transverse direction orienter (TDO) with increased operating stability at high speeds. This is achieved, for example, through a completely new layout for more efficient power transmission and a new balanced system to lower friction values and reduce the need for lubrication.
Sealed-edge bag unit for food and cosmetics
With the PLD/S Modular bag unit, Joke have developed a versatile modular solution for special requirements in terms of hygiene and shelflife. Due to the variable design, sealed-edge or shrink bags can be manufactured in different sizes, zips and the like can be incorporated – tailored to the respective needs and using the appropriate films.
Sealed-edge bag, shrink bag, round bottom or stand-up, with a zipper or adhesion closure and special sealing geometries – the PLD/S automatic bag machine is an all-rounder. Due to the modular design, it fits precisely into the production line. The modules – all in standardised dimensions – are available for different processing stages: unwinding, bottom fold, film width edge control, various different crossways, lengthways and spot sealing stations, cutters and Euro hole punching in addition to other elements can be combined. The unit processes flat films, tubular and semi-tubular, paper and aluminium compounds in addition to sealable PA/PE films up to a thickness of 400µm and working widths of 600/900/1,200mm. The all-rounder is used in the food industry and the cosmetic sector.
Optimised multi-layer film concept
Designed specifically to meet the packaging industry’s growing demand for high quality collation shrink films for the beverage market, Sabic has optimised its existing multi-layer film concept, supporting film packaging applications that comprise up to five layers or more. Made with a combination of resins including the new material, Sabic LDPE 2801TH00W, is said to exhibit a balance between mechanical properties (tear resistance), optical properties (high-gloss which can boost shelf appeal and visibility for the end-product) and stiffness, while optimising manufacturing performance.
The concept is said to offer a high degree of downgauging possibilities and increased production speeds (up to 1,000kg/h). It opens up new application areas and unprecedented levels of sustainability performance, replacing traditional materials with light-weight packaging solutions. Production is taking place at Sabic’s manufacturing facility in Wilton, Teesside, UK, and is available to customers worldwide.
Intelligent robotic loading system
At the Pack Expo, Cama USA showed a Delta robotic loading system equipped with an intelligent vision system that can pick naked or wrapped products arriving randomly from a production line, orient the products as desired and load them efficiently into the infeed of another packaging machine. Products oriented can include pouches, confectionery, biscuits, bars or almost any product that can be picked and placed by vacuum or gripper.
The latest system is an innovative robotic system, which can integrate up to 4 Delta “Triaflex” robots in one single loading unit – thanks to an advanced anti-collision system – controlled by one servo controller (up to 16 servo axis for the robots plus two additional servo axis). The Cama “Triaflex” Delta robot loading unit is able to pick the products from the belt, as required, and place them precisely in the proper tray, lug or article bucket. The robots can be guided by an artificial vision system which guarantees automatic recognition of the various products according to their type. The products are then conveyed to the different robots, to be loaded either in their final package or into the infeed of another packaging machine.
Pouch sealing systems for flexible packaging
Rinco Ultrasonics, one of the leading manufacturers of ultrasonic welding equipment, has expanded its line of FPA series ultrasonic pouch sealing systems for flexible packaging used for dry and liquid foods, personal care items and electronics. Rinco made the introduction at the Pack Expo 2013.
The FPA 4500-T is a high force, high-speed unit for top seal bonding of pouches up to 155mm wide. The new model boasts many upgrades including a single access panel for serviceability and a state-of-the-art wash down resistant coating. The FPA 4500-T has an IP67 rating and meets food contact regulations.
Another improvement is a reduction in the overall width of the unit down to 7.73-in compared to the previous 11-in width. This reduction allows the actuator to be utilised in duplex and triplex installations with room to spare. The FPA 4500-T – made primarily of stainless steel and ceramic-reinforced Teflon PTFE coated components – also affords a zero clearance capability which allows a minimum gap between the machine gripper and the leading edge of the top seal.
The FPA 4500-T incorporates Rinco’s patented PPS0145 seal technology. Each FPA system features a highly rigid actuator capable of rapidly generating the clamp forces required to seal pouches with minimal cycle time.
Rinco’s PPS0145 interlocking film sealing technology permits seal patterns with great surface area. In addition, it allows production of contour-shaped seals. This patented seal geometry is also said to eliminate any film or pouch slipping, providing even greater repeatability and reliability of the seal integrity. The company manufactures the FPA 4500-T and other FPA series ultrasonic pouch sealing systems at its Danbury, Conn. facility.
Peel polymers portfolio
The Dow Chemical Company’s Packaging and Specialty Plastics business announced the expansion of its portfolio of Sealution Peel Polymers with the commercialisation of two polyolefin-based peelable sealants, Sealution 210 and Sealution 230. These sealants are suitable for a wide range of applications, notably high clarity pouches and lidstock for polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) cups and trays. Additionally, four new experimental grades have been introduced within the Sealution portfolio.
Sealution 210 and Sealution 230 are fully-formulated sealants with controlled morphology for a predictable and more consistent peel and offer a broad sealing window that compensates for temperature variations during the packaging process. Clarity and transparency of the films helps to enable the production of packaging that has enhanced aesthetics for great shelf appeal.
Every polymer within the Sealution product range is said to enable easy peel to itself, PP and PE. The comprehensive offer includes peel polymers for processing on blown and/or cast film extrusion lines. Designed as cohesive peelable sealants, the peel of packages made with Sealution peel polymers occurs within the sealant and not at the seal interface for a consistent and clean peel behaviour that enhances consumer satisfaction. The controlled behaviour also contributes to reduced breakage and spills associated with high force during opening. Sealution 210 is particularly suitable for blown film extrusion technology while Sealution 230 supports the needs for cast film technology.
With the four newly announced Experimental Peel Polymers, Dow tailors the Sealution offering to a variety of peel requirements and enhanced processability. The introduction of a grade suitable for the production of lidding films in high temperature resistant packages is particularly suited for pasteurisation and sterilisation processes.
Compatibilisers for mixed materials
A new series of DuPont Entira EP compatibilisers is designed for the recycling of difficult to separate mixtures of polymers. The first Entira EP grades are ethylene-copolymers, optimised for mixed waste streams of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) and have now become available in the market. These are said to provide easy-to-process re-granulates with improved low temperature toughness. Specific performance demands can be met by selecting different formulations, used alone or in combination, says DuPont.
Compounding of reground mixed polymers together with Entira EP in an efficiently mixing twin screw extruder or in a single screw extruder with good mixing performance provides re-granulates in pellet form with good mechanical and processing properties, meeting high demands even with high degrees of contamination. The re-compounding process itself is more economical, because using Entira EP is said to reduce the need for melt filter cleaning operations. DuPont says that depending on the selected compatibiliser formulation, the re-compounded materials can reach almost the same level of low temperature toughness as the major blend fraction. Due to their excellent processing properties, the re-granulates are highly suitable for injection moulding, extrusion or blow-moulding. Typical applications include their use as blending partner in new materials or as core layer surrounded by new product. Under certain conditions they can even be processed directly.
DuPont is currently developing further formulations of compatibilisers for other mixed materials. These include PE and polyamide (PA) or PE and ethylenvinyl alcohol (EVOH), which are typically used as barrier resins in polyolefin based packaging films, bottles or rigid containers.
For the processing of films Goebel offers cutting and slitter rewinding systems. The primaryand secondary machines process a wide range of different films: BOPP, BOPET, OPP, CPP, BOPA, BOPS , PE, including for capacitor films, optical films, metallised films and many other special films in thicknesses from 0.5 to 500µm .
Latest developments include: Monoslit and Monoslit Giant as well as xtraslit. The Monoslit II is the primary slitter rewinder for the processing of, for example, OPP and BOPET for condenser and optical films. According to the company, the machine design allows the recording of roll diameters up to 1,550mm and finished roll diameter up to 1,250mm. With a speed of up to 1.500m/min it processes original rolls up to a width of 9,000mm to finished rolls with minimal cutting widths up to 300mm. The Monoslit Giant is the latest development. It processes 11,000mm wide original rolls and is thus, according to the manufacturer, the widest and fastest slitter rewinder currently available on the plastic film processing market.
Biodegradable and compostable bioplastics
Novamont made its worldwide presentation of products from the latest generation of Mater-Bi, the family of biodegradable and compostable bioplastics. The Novamont product range now includes new grades for film food packaging, two new materials for injection moulding and transparent mulching film.
Novamont also set aside a dedicated area of its stand to present the Matrìca project. The Matrìca area on the stand featured a selection of the first bioproducts made at the Porto Torres biorefinery from renewable sources using low-impact processes. These products will be available on the market from 2014 and will be used specifically in applications in areas such as lubricants, polymers, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Teraplex flexible nylon packaging
Ube Engineering Plastics, a specialist producer of PA6 and CoPA6/6.6, makes Nylon FD grades, which are polyamides modified to improve productivity. Ube says that the use of these grades in packaging is increasing because of their high mechanical strength; higher “flex-crack” resistance; barrier properties, including resistance to oxygen permeation; thermal resistance; thermoforming capacity; and good surface quality, among other characteristics.
The progression of packaging materials, technology and solutions has taken the food industry from canning and bottling to rigid plastics, such as bottles, trays and pots, and is moving further to the wider use of flexible polymer materials. Flexible thermoforming packaging offers the potential for material savings, through good package volume/surface ratio, and conversion convenience – food producers need to buy only the film rolls and can produce their own packages. Ube says that its Terpalex co-polymer, a TerPA 6/6.6/12, has lower crystallinity and can therefore offer improved flexibility, mechanical and optical properties.
Tied and sealed
Arkema has developed a Lotryl grade with a specific molecular structure. Due to their structure, these new Lotryl grades offer good compatibility with polar and non-polar matrices. They represent a solution for flexible packaging, masterbatches, or the impact modification of a wide range of matrices. They are said to improve the dispersion of fillers in masterbatches, making them, for instance, more homogeneous. For flexible packaging, Lotryl imparts good adhesion on a large number of supports and is said to be easy to process.
Lotryl Bestpeel is a “ready to use” tie resin specially designed for lidding applications. This adhesive is particularly versatile. It can be sealed onto and peeled off miscellaneous substrates like APET, CPET, PP, PS and even PVC. The precise formula features good clarity, which helps enhance packaged goods or food products.
Lotryl Bestpeel can be processed by several conventional co-extrusion processes like extrusion coating, blown and cast co-extrusion. Lotryl Bestpeel is based on ethylene methyl acrylate copolymer, hence it is thermally stable and can be extruded across a wide range of temperatures, from 210°C to 310°C. It complies with EU regulations and will soon comply with FDA regulations.