Packaging makeover creates tip-top tubes
These unique tubes combine in-mold labels and all-PP construction to create a striking, sustainable new package.
Jenni Spinner, Senior Editor -- Packaging Digest, 12/1/2012 1:44:00 PM
Freeman Beauty specializes in masks, scrubs, creams and other natural formulations designed to help consumers put their best face forward. Recently, the company collaborated with a packaging partner to rework a line of tube products to increase their sustainability, and impart them with a stronger shelf presence.
"At Freeman Beauty, we live and breathe beauty," says Dustin Link, production planner for Freeman Beauty. "We are constantly researching the latest fresh ingredients and we've been doing it for over 30 years, meaning we have all the know-how to create products that are honestly good, and are honestly good for you."
Its many lines of natural personal-care items include Eclos, a line of advanced natural anti-aging formulations that draw on the power of plant stem cells to enhance skin's beauty. However, the brand owner wondered if the tubes couldn't be revamped to improve their look, and increase their environmental friendliness, so it turned to Viva Healthcare Packaging--a company that Link had worked with while at a different company, with favorable results--for aid.
"The previous Eclos packaging was a 2.5-oz tube housed inside a unit carton," says Link. "After seeing the capabilities of Viva and the amazing graphics they are capable of, it was decided to switch from the unit carton and double the size of the tube to better display the collaborative capabilities between the Freeman graphics team and Viva. Also, Freeman Beauty prides itself in being environmentally aware and not having a unit carton and a package that is better for our environment was a huge factor."
Rising to the challenge
According to Willy Thian, director of production for Viva Healthcare Packaging, reworking the Eclos tubes was a welcome challenge to his team because Freeman Beauty's requirements were right in its wheelhouse.
"The objectives were completely online with our strategy: improving our customers' impact on shelves through our amazing graphics as well as improving the sustainability of the new packaging." he says. "Working together with the customer's team, we were able to switch from a smaller printed tube in a printed unit carton, to a larger decorated tube while keeping all the necessary legal information. Not only did we achieve a more shelf-impacting decorated tube package and a more eco-friendly package, but we also reduced the overall cost."
Thian is a 13-year veteran of Viva Healthcare Packaging, starting when the company first built its first North America plant for its Media Packaging Business division; he helped put together its first injection line to produce DVD boxes. The company has since broadened its injection-molding expertise to produce tubes with in-mold labels, and it has expanded the size and added a range of equipment to its Toronto plant to help satisfy the growing demand for the packages.
The Eclos tube is a 100 percent PP injection molded tube. Novel to this packaging is a 100 percent PP in-mold label fused to it, composed of a cast polypropylene film that the firm extrudes in-house on its Reifenhauser line, then gets printed on a 10-station Gallus press (with offset, flexo, silkscreen and cold-foil capabilities) and laminated onto another layer of cast PP. The graphics (processed with Esko printing software) get an extra shine and are protected against scuffing or water aggression (important, since the products frequently sit on sinks and in showers). Next, the labels are cut on a high-precision Schober rotary cutter, then picked up by robots to be placed inside the eight-cavity mold on the injection line, with an ultra-high-speed unit from Sumitomo Plastics Machinery. The molten PP flows inside the IML label and fuses in a few seconds to create a one-piece formed and decorated tube. The all-PP, injection-molded screw-on flip-top caps are produced in-house parallel to the tubes, formed and assembled on a line featuring custom, in-house-built automation. The tubes are picked up by automatic guided vehicles to dynamic racking systems, then, they are filled by CBI in Dallas, on a Kalix filling line from Norden.
According to Bruno Lebeault, marketing director at Viva Healthcare Packaging, the Eclos tube is unique for a number of reasons.
"This is the first 100 percent PP one-piece flexible squeeze tube injection-molded with an in-mold label," he says. "The solution that we replaced for Freeman Beauty had four different materials (tube head, tube body, cap and unit carton), all replaced by one recyclable material: PP. Plus, this is the only tube technology enabling photographic quality on 100 percent of the tube surface with a seamless look."
Thian adds that the fully automated process that creates the tubes is as singular as the tubes themselves.
"The automation is developed and manufactured in-house, and ensures both speed and hygiene," he says. "One hundred percent of all the components are made under the same roof on our 15 lines already installed. This enables us to answer very fast to our customers and to address the complexity of each SKU--different diameters, different cap styles and colors, etc.--in a very timely manner."
Viva Healthcare Packaging offers the technology in its North America, Europe and Asia ISO 9001- and GMP-certified plants. It has successfully acquired all the intellectual property rights of injection-molded tubes technology worldwide. The patents cover a total of 39 countries globally.
Link says the finished Eclos tubes provide the personal-care company-and its discerning customers-with a range of benefits.
"Most important to us at Freeman Beauty is sustainability," he says. "The tube is 100 percent recyclable, because it is made of 100 percent PP. Also, PP is seen as greener, as it requires less energy to produce, to process and is a lighter polymer."
Additionally, Link says, Freeman Beauty has found that Viva Healthcare Packaging has been able to deliver on a package that meets the brand owner's goals, with little compromise of its desired characteristics.
"Collaborating with Viva on new projects is a relief because they are able to deliver exactly what is preferred," Link says. "There is no weighing quality versus cost because they are able to provide both, and fast. Some of the benefits that made our decision easier when choosing Viva for our Eclos project were their ability to use 100 percent of the surface of the tube. This enabled us to put more information and get rid of the unit carton."
Link adds that packaging firms like Viva Healthcare Packaging can provide a huge benefit to CPG clients by offering short lead times and broad production capabilities.
"The fact that every tube component is made under one roof with a fully automated process enables to drastically reduce the lead-time-six to eight weeks, instead of 14 to 16 weeks," Link says. This was an important factor in this project because there were so many SKUs.
According to Link, customers have responded positively to the new Eclos tubes. Thian adds that the team at Viva Healthcare Packaging is pleased with the tube the partnership with the client created.
"I am very proud of the tube and glad it meets customer's expectations," he says.
More information is available:
CBI Laboratories Inc., 972-241-7546.
Gallus Printing Machinery Corp., 215-677-9600.
Norden Machinery AB, 908-707-8008.
Reifenhauser Inc. USA, 978-412-9700.
Schober USA Inc., 513-489-7393.
Sumitomo Plastics Machinery, 678-892-7900.
Viva Healthcare Packaging, 416-321-0622.