PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011 was one for the record books. The event's square footage, exhibitors and attendees topped figures for the previous Las Vegas-based PACK EXPO in 2009 by double digits across the board. Thanks to the bustling activity, show attendees departed the Las Vegas Convention Center with a bright outlook of the packaging industry's future.
There's always so much to see and it seems like there's never enough time. Packaging Digest editors John Kalkowski, Lisa Pierce, Jack Mans and Jenni Spinner spent nearly every minute of the 2011 PACK EXPO Las Vegas show walking and talking to attendees and exhibitors. Here are a few highlights of what they saw and heard:
We saw several great innovations emanating from supplier partnerships, like this one: A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp.'s (www.abcpackaging.com) new Model 450 high-speed case erector-which uses a servo-operated sealing ram-was set up to effectively seal up to 55 cases per minute using a new renewable-material, soy-based adhesive from H.B. Fuller (www.hbfuller.com). An alternative to petroleum-based hot melt adhesives, the LiquaMelt adhesive starts out as a liquid, so it doesn't have to be heated to melt. This saves up to 40 percent on energy costs. Instead of a heated tank and heated hoses, LiquaMelt is heated by an actuator only at the nozzle. (The concept is similar to how an on-demand hot water heater works.) Additionally, the adhesive is then foamed when it is dispensed, which reduces adhesive consumption up to 50 percent compared to other application systems, according to the company. This also offsets the product's higher cost. The "cool on delivery, hot on demand" Liquamelt adhesive offers added advantages of safety and easy cleanup. H.B. Fuller partnered with Graco (www.graco.com) to develop the delivery system including pump, reservoir, delivery hose and turbo actuator.
Engineers at Diagraph (www.diagraph.com) figured out a way to add a blow feature to its all-electric tamp labeler. The PA/6000 E-Tamp/Blow reroutes the air used to hold the label to do the final blow. Designed for touch-free labeling or labeling of delicate products, such as produce in clamshells, the system can handle labels from 1.5 x 1.5 in. to 4 x 6 in. Blow distance is about 0.25 in.
Automation expert Numatics (www.numatics.com) has a new feature on its modular G3 fieldbus for compressed air components. The ARM, short for Auto Recovery Module, protects configuration information during a critical failure. It reads and stores the ID, bit map and configuration of each component on its manifold. Then it goes into hibernation to protect this info in case there's a critical failure. If/when a component needs to be swapped out, ARM cycles back up and automatically reloads all the settings into the new component without user interaction.
Zip-Pak (www.zippak.com) is testing a new line of PE and PP reclosable zippers made with up to 40 percent Oshenite renewable materials as an alternate to fossil fuel-based plastics. From U.S. Aragonite Enterprises (www.usaragonite.com), Oshenite is crystalline calcium carbonate, harvested from the pristine waters of Ocean Cay in the western Bahamas Bank where it is naturally occurs from precipitation of the oolitic calcium on the bank. The oolitic aragonite offers economic, performance and environmental advantages when added as a masterbatch compound into plastics. Ya, mon.
Ecologic Brands (www.ecologicbrands.com) enhanced its molded fiber bottle line by adding stock sizes and configurations. The bottle is aimed to help customers get up and running with the eco-friendly bottle (which reduces HDPE plastic use by as much as 75 percent) more quickly than its custom bottle options. The outer molded fiber bottle contains an inner pouch that can be easily separated so the bottle can be recycled. Sal Pellingra, innovation and marketing director at Ampac (www.ampaconline.com), says its new No. 4 Pouch (a recyclable pouch made of LDPE) will be one of the inner packages for Ecologic's bottle, making the entire package (once separated) recyclable.
Sealed Air (www.sealedair.com) has expanded its loose-fill offerings with PakNatural. The packaging product is composed of 95 percent non-food, renewable materials, and it is intended to produce less dust, offer favorable antistatic performance and deliver increased strength compared to expanded polystyrene or starch-based loose fill product.
Clear Lam Packaging Inc. (www.clearlam.com) unveiled a number of new packaging items geared toward the food and pharmaceutical markets. Items include Accuware lightweight hinged containers for bakery and confectionery markets, with optimal protection, visibility and eco-friendliness; Peel and ReSeal lidding film, with a convenient reclosable tray-and-lid system; forming films from plant-based sources; and an overwrap film for medical-kit packaging made with a minimum of 40 percent bio-derived raw material.
The Kodak (http://graphics.kodak.com) booth featured a number of new products for workflow management and security. Items include the Traceless AD System for Antidiversion, a tool for manufacturers that uses invisible ink and a detection system to help track products and prevent unauthorized production/reselling. Also, the company's Design2Launch Brand Manager digital workflow and brand-asset management system enables users to securely approve, organize and distribute packaging and marketing artwork, layouts and other digital assets.
At the show, Columbia Machine (www.palletizing.com) debuted its FLR2000-R palletizer, which features the company's hybrid R-Factor technology. By bringing management of both the functions of the robot arm and basic machine control into the ControlLogix PLC, the machine's design aims to make it easy for plant personnel to understand and maintain the palletizer.
Check our next issue for even more innovations from PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011.