Flexible's technical triumphs

Lauren R. Hartman

November 18, 2014

21 Min Read
Flexible's technical triumphs

Bringing flexible packaging developments and converting coups in printing, graphic design, technology and packaging excellence into the 21st century, winners of the 2005 Achievement Awards, given by the Flexible Packaging Assn. (www.flexpack.org) at its annual meeting Feb. 25 in Carlsbad, CA, demonstrate the tremendous impact of flexible packaging in retail, institutional and industrial products applications.

The descriptions that follow detail the Silver award winners in the printing achievement, technical innovation and packaging excellence categories. PD covered many of the winners last month (see PD, March '05, p. 24 and www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa0503), including a Silver winner for Cryovac's FC 805 Bag for whole chicken broilers (technical innovation); a Silver winner for Printpack's digitally printed standup pouches used for Betty Crocker's Au Gratin and Scalloped Potatoes (printing achievement); and PBM Plastics' Ecolab liner, which won the Environmental Achievement award.


The Lin Cube®, a standup bag from converter

Star Packaging Corp (www.starpackagingcorp.com) for Ascot Grass Seed (1), from Cebeco Seeds bv in the Netherlands, won a Silver award for technical innovation as well as the 2005 Members' Choice Award, which is voted the top entry in the FPA's Achievement Awards competition by members attending the FPA annual meeting. The tall, rectangular seed bag is made from film extruded by Tara Plastics Corp. (www.taraplastics.com) that's laminated on equipment from Nordmeccanica N.A. (www.nordmeccanica.com). Made into bags by Linpac, Inc.'s Lin Cube Div. (www.linpac.com), the innovative, pleated-side shape offers numerous advantages. Easy to use, pour and lift by various age groups, the bag minimizes the need for secondary packaging and can lower storage and transportation costs. With its innovative design that allows four full sides of the package to be used for graphics, it can strengthen brand identity.

The bag also won a Silver award for technical innovation. Other suppliers involved in the Lin Cube application include plate mounter J.M. Heaford, Ltd. (www.jmheaford.co.uk) and artwork and plate provider American Color (www.americancolorgraphics.com). The upright bag prominently displays the brand name, probably more effectively than can most layflat bags, says Star. Suitable for retail and institutional applications, the Lin Cube, as its name implies, is cube-efficient, making great use of shelf space and stacking like a rigid box or carton. Tara's proprietary, five-layer film coextrusion includes a blend of substrates that provides vertical stiffness and deadfold stability, which helps keep the bag standing when filled and hold its shape after it's filled. Flexo-printed in eight colors on a central-impression press from Uteco North America, Inc. (www.uteco.com) with hot-air, convection-oven-cured inks from Flint Ink Corp. (www.flintink.com), the bag is a departure in construction for a product often contained in either layflat bags, rigid, corrugated cases, cans or pails. Lin Cube has applications in the seed and petfood markets, Star says. Circle No. 220.


Tea-lightful 12-pack overwrap

Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons' AriZona® beverages took on a new package format recently with a high-impact, printed-film shrink wrap for its 12-pack cans of iced tea drink (2). The new package raises AriZona tea to new heights with help from Robbie Mfg. (www.robbiemfg.com). Historically, the 12-pack of 11.5-oz cans of tea has been merchandised in a printed tray-pack overwrapped in clear film. Cincinnati-based FV&S wanted to provide a recognizable package that consumers would be attracted to, so the company decided to replace the clear wrap with a printed version to unitize the 12-pack. The results provide a billboard for the brand, which is helping it gain a competitive edge on-shelf.

Robbie reverse-prints the 2.5-mil, clear polyethylene film overwrap by flexo in an amazing 10 colors (process and spot colors, including transparent inks and two whites for more opacity) using fast-drying, solvent-based inks, computer-to-plate (CTP) digital printing plates and digital proofs. Robbie says its main goal was to color-match the actual printing of the AriZona tea cans. "Color was very critical," says the converter. "The design was printed with both line and process colors blended softly together in the art."

It's not easy to print clear film with this much opacity and with tiny details held on press, such as the graphics of cherry-tree florals and tree limbs on a mint-green background. These elements fade into the print without hard lines or traps. The process had to match the actual metal tea can look, including the can's bronze-colored rim. Robbie says the most difficult challenge was to print graphics of ice cubes to look icy and wet in four-color process, while making the cubes look transparent, water-clear and free of color. "This was especially tricky where the ice reflects the can's green color," the company points out.

Besides being beautiful and eye-catching, the printed film overwrap reduced packaging costs versus the previous packaging components and is instantly recognizable as the AriZona tea brand. Circle No. 221.

Shaped pouches are the cat's meow

It's one thing to create a standup pouch; it's another to come up with a unique pouch shape in the form of a cat. That's why Friskies® soft cat treats from Nestlé Purina in 3-oz, shaped pouches (3) from multiple FPA award-winner Pliant Corp. (www.pliantcorp.com) and converter Bryce Corp. (www.brycecorp.com) are "purrrfect." The intriguing "cat's ears" shape of the pouch top and the material structure have both shelf appeal and pet appeal, which sets the products apart from their competition. Each pouch features uniquely designed ears that coordinate with the shape of the furry felines pictured on the front panels.

Stunning, eight-color, reverse-flexo-printed graphics rival gravure printing. The design is highlighted by the use of metallized polyethylene terephthalate substrates and water-based inks. The sharp, crisp graphics work well with the metallized backgrounds to make the packages reach out a paw for consumers' attention on store shelves. A convenient, resealable feature helps keep the soft treats fresh between uses.

Replacing a two-pass lamination process, the new one-pass, tandem-extrusion-laminated structure, of reverse-printed PET/metallized PET/easy-tear PE sealant, teams three substrates simultaneously, which helps to reduce costs. Low-odor printing inks are used to accommodate cats' high sensitivity to offensive odors that could be associated with adhesive laminations and solvent-based printing processes. The PE sealant allows for the use of two extrusion-lamination film layers that tear open easily, exposing the reclosable feature. Circle No. 222.

Garlic bread bags never looked so good

Glittering bags containing Orlando Baking's Four Cheese Garlic Bread and Italian Garlic Bread (4), converted by American Packaging Corp., are adhesive laminates made of PET/ink/ adhesive/metallized oriented polypropylene. What really makes them sparkle is the printing technology involved in their manufacture. APC reverse-prints the bagstock in eight colors using a new flexo printing plate technology from Phototype (www.phototype.com), Cincinnati, called NuDot. NuDot is an advanced prepress and plating system that APC says offers superior reproduction in a new approach to forming screen dots.

The dot technology prints an X instead of a round dot in certain tonal ranges. When ink is transferred from the X, it redistributes in a well formed, round or diamond-shaped mass with marked improvement over the donut shapes of conventional flexo plate dots. Phototype's print team worked with APC's pressroom operators to prepare to print with NuDot plates. First, they performed a standard press fingerprint test under normal process-color running conditions to establish an optimal shadow point where the most efficient ink coverage would be obtained. Based on that analysis, Phototype created a series of new dot compensation curves specifically for the press.

"Teaming state-of-the-art NuDot equipment with skilled press operators achieves outstanding graphic designs for the garlic bread bags and advances flexographic printing using solvent-based inks," explains APC. When ink is transferred from the surface of a conventional photopolymer flexo plate to the smooth, nonporous surface of a film substrate, it can bead up and form liquid clumps. This can result in printed dots that look like donuts, with solid print areas that are weak and mottled. NuDot helps prevent this by using high-frequency granules to "break down" plate screen dots into smaller units and rearrange the units to form new dot shapes, or shorelines, that exploit the natural beading and "rivering" characteristics of ink on high-holdout film substrates. NuDot plates are available in a choice of photopolymer materials and thicknesses, in plate sizes up to 60380 in. Circle No. 223.

Bag graphics 'pop' for Tabasco

American Packaging won a second Silver award for printing achievement with the metallized OPP bags for Tabasco Cheese Popcorn (5). Available from Houston Harvest, Franklin Park, IL, the 2-oz packs are made of OPP/ink/adhesive/metallized OPP. They present crisp graphics achieved again by the NuDot flexo prepress and plating system from Phototype (see winner above). This technology is said to increase image sharpness and brighten colors and provide higher densities, smoother vignettes and cleaner text. The artwork and superior printing allow the package to capture consumers' attention at point of purchase.

The shiny, metallic OPP film combined with the NuDot technology produced high clarity and cleaner text for the glossy bags. According to APC, NuDot also gives the Tabasco cheese popcorn bags more sales appeal, especially in nontraditional outlets where the use of flexible packaging isn't always seen, and provides excellent print benefits at a lower cost than with conventional plates. Circle No. 223.

Chipper 'chips' bags

The packaging for Safeway, Inc.'s Original and Chunky Treasure Chips chocolate chip cookies earned multiple award winner Printpack, Inc. (www.printpack.com) a Silver for expert printing with digital photopolymer plates (6). Printpack converts the shiny bagstock??a 1.2-mil PP, laminated to 70-ga metallized PP with 10# opaque-white LDPE. Using plates produced by Matthews Intl., (www.matw.com), Pittsburgh, Printpack achieves a crisp look, with tight overall flexo print registration in six colors, and builds in smooth gradations and drop shadows. The scroll-map graphic and cookie vignettes display definition, sharpness, detail and a textural quality that makes them look very realistic, appetizing and ready to eat. Graphics, in either blue or chocolatey-brown color schemes, depending on the chips' flavor variety, were created by Watt Design Group (www.wattinternational.com). Circle No. 224.

Mouth-watering pasta pouches

Printing details of intricate photo vignettes presented on standup, zippered pouches for Seviroli Foods' Four-Cheese Ravioli (7) and Stuffed Shells surely whet the tastebuds. Converted into pouches by Polymer Packaging, Inc (www.polymerpkg.com), the packages start with a glossy, 48-ga PET/ink/adhesive/3-mil opaque-white PE sealant rollstock, laminated and flexo-printed by Mercury Plastics, Inc. (www.mercuryplastics.com), in nine colors on a 10-color Windmoeller & Hoelscher (www.whcorp.com) Novoflex press.

Polymer Packaging uses a Waterline Ritebag gearless pouch machine from Karlville Development Group (www.karlville.com) to premake the pouches. The vibrant, three-dimensional graphics focus on close-up shots of deep-red pasta sauce and melting, shredded cheese, as well as a spoonful of luscious, cream-colored ravioli. Garden City, NY-based Seviroli switched its ravioli products from a plain, white LLDPE bag with a label to the new, reclosable standup pouch in order to enhance shelf presence and convenience. The new packaging is said to have helped Seviroli boost sales enough to begin packaging other pasta items in standup pouches.

For another look at the Highest Achievement and Gold winners in FPA's 2005 competition, visit www.packagingdigest.com/ info/fpagold/

According to Polymer Packaging, one of the more challenging aspects of the printing project was to provide quality, in-depth detail showing the red sauce and shredded cheese. The upright pouches also provide technical and functional improvements over the former packaging, such as the reclosable zipper, from Zip-Pak (www.zippak.com), a division of ITW Minigrip, that provides the potential for a longer product shelf life. Circle No. 225.


'Tanfastic' spouted pouch

Multiple award winner Exopack (www.exopack.com) was recognized for packaging excellence for a spouted pouch it provides for the Design Worx Shift Tan Maximizer (8). Replacing a paperboard tube, this 8-oz, reclosable package for three different tanning lotion varieties brings a new structure to a market more often associated with rigid packaging. The pouch's matte-finish, biaxially-oriented PP-based laminate construction gives it a soft feel, while the high-impact graphics, reverse-printed in four-color process, play up the cool, hip identity of the Shift brand. The pouch could be a first in the tanning industry, says Exopack, which adds that the pouch can also offer a significant cost savings over rigid containers. This can't hurt a product facing a sea of competition.

A dramatic, shadowy image on the front panel shows a surreal exclamation point encircled in a black and white bull's-eye motif. The hermetically sealed spout makes the tanning product easier to dispense and also resists leakage. Circle No. 226.

EZO chemical tablet pouch

The Everproe Tab Pouch for deodorizing tablets (9), available from portable sanitation products manufacturer J&J Chemical Co. is a standup package that brings a new flexible format to an industry tied more to paperboard cartons and corrugated cases.

Replacing a paperboard tube, the barrier, metallized polyester laminate pouch is designed to both protect the tablets and provide easy access to them, courtesy of a Slide Ritew slider zipper closure (developed by Pactiv Corp. [www.pactiv.com]). Eye-catching graphics further enhance brand identity. Produced by Exopack, the pouch provides a substantial aroma barrier, keeping the strong scent of the tablets inside the package and also extending product life. Surface-printed flexographically on the metallic surface, the graphics add appealing visuals of a tablet being dropped into water, provide easy-to-read product application instructions and communicate a high-quality message to the end user, though the package is said to cost less than its predecessor, according to Pactiv.

Easy to fill because it eliminates the tedious manual placement of the tablets in a tube, the metallized pouch also has a "top-shelf" image, according to J&J, of Athens, GA. Circle No. 226.

McDowell's toasts pouches

McDowell's Whiskey Pack (10), produced by Flex-America, Inc. (www.flexfilm.com) for McDowell's United Breweries Group's Spirits Div. in India, is a tall, gold pouch with an integral carry handle at the top. Concealing a 1- or 1.5-L whiskey bottle within, the package was launched in July 2004 to rave reviews from consumers. The aesthetically pleasing, metallic gold pouch has reportedly reduced the packaging costs by more than 20 percent and has helped prevent counterfeiting of the brand. Made of 12-micron (approximately 48-ga) PET, dry-laminated to 12-micron (48-ga) metallized PET and 75-micron (approximately 3-mil) LDPE, the pouch is reverse-printed by gravure in eight colors by Flex Industries, a part of the Flex Group, and is punched with a handle hole on the top. Because the pouch is a one-time-use package, tearing it open to access the bottle renders it useless after the bottle is removed, so it helps prevent counterfeiting of the McDowell's brand. The Flex Group began business nearly two decades ago, producing variety of films, laminates, pouches, inks and adhesives. PD learns that the pouch is made on a standup pouchmaking machine manufactured by Flex Engineering Ltd., in India. Circle No. 227.

Laser scores make Sainsbury's single-serves easy to open

The single-serve pouches (11) produced by CLP Industries Ltd.(www.clppackagingsolutions.com) that hold Sainsbury's sandwich filler spreads include easy-opening laser scores. Sainsbury's uses flexible packaging technology to take sandwich fillers in three flavors to new heights in convenience. The spreads offer consumers a tasty range of choices. With a quick tear without scissors or knives and a gentle squeeze to dispense the contents, each member of the family can have a favorite sandwich.

Replacing 150- and 250-g tubs and jars, the lightweight, 75-g, laser-scored, standup pouch is made of a 12-micron (48-ga) PET/60-micron (2.3-mil) PE film laminate that CLP reverse-flexo-prints in four colors with simple and elegant graphics. The laser-scored film is easy to open, and the single portion size reduces waste. The film also has a finish and a sharpness that can be difficult to replicate on direct-printed tubs and paper-labeled jars, according to Linda Zilian at CLP. The gussets in the pouches make display and home storage convenient and attractive.

Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd., London, says that most sandwich spreads packaged in jars or tubs can be heavy and often fragile, and jars can be difficult for children and the elderly to manipulate. That's why it developed its individual-serving pouches, which are lightweight and easy to handle, and keep the products fresh until they're needed.

The standup pouch is filled and sealed by Sainsbury's copacker in the U.K. The cost per package to the consumer is kept relatively low by the packer's skill, and by the convenient, single-serving package size. Circle No. 228.


Shrink bag for bone-in meat

Multiple award winner Alcan Packaging (www.alcan.com) may have revolutionized coextrusion technology when it introduced the ClearShield(TM) Shrink Bag for fresh, bone-in meat (12). A game-changer in the world of bone-in meat-packaging materials, the multilayer film is said to offer critical, total perimeter puncture-resistance??even in the sealing area??and superior machinability. Traditionally, says Alcan, hazy, puncture-resistant patches are applied to the standard shrink bag, so that sharp, protruding bones won't puncture the bag and break the hermetic seal, which could compromise the safety and shelf life of the meat. Alcan notes that this can be a time-consuming process that's often less than accurate in a fast-paced meat-packing plant. Unlike patch bags or wraps that use bone caps, ClearShield packs don't need to be oriented so that a patch or film lamination layer covers the bone protruding from the meat.

ClearShield bags allow consumers to easily see the meat and can reduce in-plant leaker rates by more than 50 percent, compared with conventional patch bags. They're said to help keep packaging costs low and have oxygen and moisture barrier protection to extend meat shelf life. They're also glass-clear and can be used with existing packaging equipment.

The result of proprietary coextrusion technology and new polymeric, raw materials from partner suppliers, the ClearShield bags also exhibit outstanding shrink properties and stiffness that allow them to lay flat across a seal bar and seal with fewer pleats. In addition, Alcan says the bags do not involve the use of starch, which can build up on packaging equipment. Circle No. 229.

Printed, peelable and case-ready meat pack

One of the company's two Silver winners for technical innovation (see PD, March '05, p. 24 or our website, www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa0503), the Cryovac® LID 551P printed, peelable, case-ready lidding film and package (13) from the Cryovac Food Packaging Div. of Sealed Air Corp. (www.sealedair.com) consists of a trap-printed, barrier lidding film sealed to a polystyrene foam tray with a barrier liner. The contents??whole muscle meats, primarily beef and pork??are flushed with a low-oxygen gas mixture, and the LID 551P film is hermetically sealed to the tray, which protects contents and maintains a low-oxygen atmosphere during storage and distribution. The barrier layer can be peeled away at the retail level, to leave a breathable film that allows air to re-enter the package, causing the meat to bloom to the desired bright red color. This easy-peel feature allows retailers to peel and bloom only the products that they need to keep their meat cases filled. According to Cryovac, the ability to better match shelf life to store needs will allow retailers to maximize sales by keeping a meat case full by not having to over stock.

Used by Swift & Co., LID 551P builds on Cryovac's earlier LID 550P film used in low-oxygen, case-ready ground beef packages, with the advantage of accommodating trap printing, so that the print remains on-pack after the barrier layer is peeled away. The lidding film is a 2.2-mil barrier lamination made of several coextruded films, with the printing trapped between two film layers.

LID 551P film demonstrates exceptional sealability and machinability, and anti-fog performance. Its low-oxygen capabilities are maintained until bloom (red color of the meat) is needed. The LID 551P package provides an extended shelf-life option without using a master pouch. In addition, Cryovac notes, the trayed product only goes through one packaging machine rather than two. Circle No. 230.

Laminated bags are on a roll

In late 2003, PPG Industries' Aerospace Div., Glendale, CA, asked LPS Industries' Laminated Div. (www.lpsind.com) to work on re-engineering its existing film/foil/film barrier bags for sealants (14). For more than a decade, LPS had supplied PPG with one-side-printed bags with generic graphics. A thermal-transfer label was applied to differentiate the various sealant products. But PPG decided it wanted to automate the labeling process by feeding an unprinted "roll" of bags onto a printer, which would eliminate the label application. LPS created a laminated-foil bags-on-a-roll concept, which would allow PPG to use the bags with existing thermal-transfer printers.

After a trial period, LPS developed a roll-label product for PPG that it now supplies in boxes containing three rolls of bags and a thermal-transfer ribbon. This allows PPG to transfer all sealant parts to its packaging line in one tidy unit and helped PPG to streamline its packaging operation and inventory and reduced labor and material costs. Circle No. 231.

Insecticide pack can now move outdoors

Moving from a folding carton to a spouted, standup bag for its Ortho Bug-Geta Snail & Slug Killer products (15), the Scotts Company, Marysville, OH, was easily able to move Bug-Geta® from the inside of stores outdoors, into garden centers. The glossy, striking 4-lb package not only improves the shelf appeal of the product but also protects the granular product from moisture and sunlight. Replacing a paperboard folding carton that couldn't be merchandised outdoors, the flexible, spouted bag brings more convenience and dispensing accuracy to consumers while representing a source reduction over most rigid containers. The bag is also space-efficient. Peel Plastic Products Ltd. (www.peelplastics.com) takes center stage for the noteworthy structure, which can be dispensed without the need for a secondary scoop or applicator. The reclosable spout insert is easy to use and prevents leakage. Circle No. 232.

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