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Packaging films, foils shine

Building consumer loyalty is a primary concern for brand owners around the globe. Visual appeal, convenience and product freshness are all important packaging factors that help consumers make decisions at point-of-purchase and turn first-time buyers into repeat purchasers.

Brand owners seeking the latest film and foil technologies developed specifically to enhance convenience, extend product shelf life and boost point-of-purchase impact will find a multitude of options at PACK EXPO International 2006, being held at Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Sponsored and produced by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (www.packexpo.com), PACK EXPO International 2006 will showcase an array of packaging materials and containers, along with the latest developments in packaging machinery, exposing visitors to an almost unlimited range of packaging innovations.

Following is an overview of some of the recent trends in film and foil technologies, as well as related products that will be on view at the show this fall.

Improving decorative foil technologies

Heat-transfer foil has long been a dominant tool used for high-quality packaging decoration. Primarily employing hot-stamping techniques, these highly versatile foils can transfer a range of graphic designs and effects to varying packaging formats in a number of industries, including pharmaceutical, cosmetic/personal care, food and beverage. As foil technologies continue to improve, however, options beyond traditional heat-based techniques are being developed to improve production efficiencies and esthetic results.

CFC International (Booth E-9219), for example, has recently redeveloped CTT Foil™, which utilizes Cold Total Transfer technology for foil-based packaging decoration. Being introduced at the show, this technology can apply holographic or silver images to a package without the risk of memory issues for higher-quality aesthetics. In addition, print-ready CTT Foil eliminates the costly intermediary steps necessary when utilizing heat-transfer methods and can also be sold directly to printers. This new foil technology does not transfer film during the image-transfer process, which results in a lighter package weight and reduced shipping costs.

“Cold Total Transfer is the new generation of decorative foil technology for the packaging industry,” remarks Kevin Williams, product manager, holographic packaging and security at CFC. “Our line of CTT Foils helps printers, laminators, converters and package designers reduce costs and improve graphic quality through a simplified and more cost-effective image-transfer process. It is not only more environmentally sensitive, but it also has better folding characteristics, as well. Combining this technology with our in-house, state-of-the-art hologram design capabilities allows brand owners to improve time to market while, at their option, incorporate brand protection features into packaging.”

Addressing the need for convenience

Traditional secondary packaging, like corrugated cases and paperboard cartons, has held a positive track record for protecting products during transport and storage. However, consumers are increasingly demanding secondary packaging that’s both convenient to open and clearly shows the contents on store shelves. Bemis Clysar (Booth S-2312) has responded to these needs with Bemis® Clysar® ShrinkBox™, a transparent, multilayer polyolefin film, durable enough to wrap products that, due to an irregular size, weight or shape, were previously only suitable for traditional corrugated or paperboard packaging. At this year’s PACK EXPO show, the company will introduce a new generation of ShrinkBox film—ShrinkBox™ EZ. Providing the same level of durability as the original ShrinkBox film, ShrinkBox EZ incorporates proprietary, easy-peel technology that facilitates opening by the consumer. This high-abuse packaging format also meets demands from retailers for secondary packaging that can be easily removed in stores for display purposes without having to cut the packaging and risking damage to the contents.

“In this day and age, packaging convenience is essential for brands to build positive relationships with both consumers and retailers,” explains Carlos E. Ruiz, marketing manager, Bemis Clysar. “New ShrinkBox EZ is a great way to meet this need by combining package transparency with ease of opening.” Bemis Clysar will also be showcasing a new, improved version of its Clysar LE soft film at PACK EXPO this year—Clysar® LE Gold. This new polyolefin technology offers a low shrink force suitable for packaging delicate and lightweight products such as notepads and envelopes. The film also offers excellent optical clarity, which enhances convenience for both retailers and consumers. These qualities are maintained over time, which, as Ruiz points out, marks a notable improvement over alternative soft shrink film materials.

“Comparative soft polyvinyl chloride films acquire their initial flexibility from plasticizer additives,” remarks Ruiz. “However, over time, these additives migrate to the film’s surface and evaporate, resulting in increased brittleness, low tear-resistance, warping and poor optic quality. Clysar LE Gold, however, can maintain its softness, durability and clean appearance over a much longer period of time, guaranteeing that the product is delivered to retail and is displayed at point-of-purchase in perfect condition.”

Securing the supply chain

Supply-chain management is a top priority for brand owners in a number of industries, including pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other types of consumer product goods. Seeking to combat counterfeiting, theft and product diversion, companies around the globe are demanding more advanced and integrated supply-chain management solutions to help protect brand integrity and maximize bottom-line profits.

In response to this urgent market need, Crown Roll Leaf, Inc. (Booth E-6184, E-9048) will be unveiling the Code X® security packaging system this October. Developed in partnership with ZBA, Inc. (www.zbausa.com), a manufacturer of data-collection devices, Code X allows companies to transfer machine-readable, optical variable device (OVD) images to their product packaging using special Crown Roll Leaf films. Unlike standard bar codes, these secure OVD images can hold a vast amount of information, such as date of manufacture, lot number, drug dosage (for pharmaceutical applications) and manufacturing location, to authenticate a particular product. The images are transferred from the film to a package by hot-stamping or in label format and can be deciphered throughout the supply chain by customized ZBA electronic readers.

“Code X is an efficient and cost-effective way for consumer product companies to secure their supply chains,” remarks James Kipp, security product manager at Crown Roll Leaf. “By deploying this new system, not only can these companies control their distribution processes more thoroughly, but they can also help protect consumers from harmful, unregulated products and enable retailers to keep better track of their inventory.”

Code X readers generally cost between 80 percent and 90 percent less than traditional hologram security readers. In addition, Code X OVD images can function alongside traditional bar coding and new RFID technologies.

Providing a barrier alternative to foil

Product freshness plays a critical role in the success of food, beverage and pharmaceutical brands. As a result, aluminum foil has long been celebrated for its excellent barrier properties and moisture- and gas-transmission-resistance, and is considered by many to be unmatched by plastic films to date. However, as pointed out by Eric Bartholomay, product development manager for Toray Plastics (America), Inc. (Booth S-2941), foil tends to crease when flexed, which often happens in the course of case-packing and shelf-stocking pouches.

To address this issue, Toray recently introduced a line of PC metallized polypropylene films that are specifically designed as replacements for foil laminates. Earlier this year, Unilever chose the new Torayfan® PC1 film to replace the traditional PPFP (paper/PE/ foil/PE) packaging used for its popular Knorr and Lipton products. This decision was based on the results of a six-month trial that demonstrated that the new film delivered superior barrier protection able to enhance brand image while reducing packaging costs.


More information is available:
Bemis Clysar, 800-4-CLYSAR. www.clysar.com.
CFC International, 708/891-3456. www.cfcintl.com.
Crown Roll Leaf, 800/631-3831. www.crownrollleaf.com.
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