What were some of the challenges in developing the pouch and how did you solve them?
Boku: The biggest challenge was the drop test. Bona’s HDPE refill bottle is like a tank. You could drop it from the top of a roof and it probably would not break because it is so durable.
Adding a flexible package was a concern for Bona. They liked the concept of a pouch but were concerned that a pouch holding 160 ounces wouldn’t survive a shoulder-high or head-high drop test.
So we built the material up. We’re using a 3-ply lamination. We always use nylon for something of this magnitude. The structure is polyethylene (PE)/nylon/linear-low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). The LLDPE is 200 microns, which is extremely thick—about 8 mils. We used that structure for the front and back panel, with a white-based poly, and then the same structure but in clear for the gussets. Total thickness is about 9 mils.
We did multiple drop tests and this can withstand a shoulder- or head-high drop test, which is incredible because of all that weight, especially with having multiple panels and seal areas. We used a special recipe in the polyethylene to withstand the force, the impact. It’s a special blend of PE resins. This was a challenge, but one we were able to overcome with the poly we used.
The development work we did on this will be helpful to people out there who wonder if any product of this weight could be packaged in a pouch. It will bring some confidence here. There is a lot of opportunity for companies to use this model for products of this much weight. Especially in the home care sector, like laundry detergent.
Dan also made a unique corrugated case to hold four pouches. Because the pouches are shaped a little differently, they designed the case to hold them securely. How they designed the box was creative. [Editor's note: See a photo of a single-pouch case on the next page.]
The shipping case holding four pouches for distribution to retail outlets uses an intricate partition to separate and secure the pouches.
On the pouch at the side seals where the gussets join, during manufacturing of the pre-made pouch, you’re sealing through four pretty thick layers of material.
Boku: It’s 9 mil of material each, so that’s 36 mil total. On top of that, there is a matte coating everywhere except the photograph and the two gussets. Bona wanted to keep the image glossy so it would stand out.
But when you apply a certain amount of heat and pressure to a pouch that’s very thick, it can wear the matte coating off the surface of the film and perhaps burn the plastic. So we had to keep several factors in mind when we engineered the material: that it could pass the drop test requirement from head high, and also that it would not melt when sealing this thick of a material, times four panels.
Why use a matte finish then?
Smith: The matte finish is in line with our Bona brand so in was important that we made it work.
Drop tests were done from shoulder/head high because the product is often positioned on the top shelves in the store, right?
Smith: Yes, some of our retailers store/display the product on top shelves.
What tests did you do to ensure the pouch could withstand the pressures of use and shipping without leaking?
Smith: As per our standard operating procedures here at Bona, we performed a variety of drop tests and put the packaged product thru ISTA protocols, which simulate UPS/FedEx shipping.
NEXT: Bottom dispensing