Anton Steeman

January 30, 2014

14 Min Read
The 12 Most Impressive Packaging Innovations in 2009



This is my last post of 2009 and I thought it interesting to give my readers an overview of the, in my opinion, most impressive innovations in packaging of this year. Enjoy it and have a delightful turn of the Year.

The Aluminium Bottle of the Year
A revolutionary lightweight aluminium bottle made for Eaux Vives mineral water in Canada won the Can of the Year Award for Exal Corporation at The Canmaker Summit held in Dubai (October 28-29).

With the bottled water market increasingly commoditized the industry is constantly being challenged to improve its environmental profile. The 30cl C2C-bottle, under development for almost ten years, might be the answer. Compared to the impact-extruded aluminium bottles already on the market and produced in limited numbers, the C2C-bottle weighs more than 40% less, providing significant material savings.

C2C, which stands for Coil-to-Can, uses similar techniques as for making beverage cans starting with thin aluminium coil, and potentially offers production speeds in the region of 1,000 bottles per minute. Development costs in excess of USD 30 million have been spent by Exal on a pilot manufacturing line in Ohio with a capacity to make 120 million bottles a year.

Food Safety - Temperature Sensitive Labels Destroy Barcodes
Tempix Sweden launched a new temperature indicator that destroys barcodes on labels if the foodstuff or other temperature sensitive products are exposed to too high heat. Over the years many different types of temperature indicators have popped up that showed when a temperature sensitive product’s refrigerating chain was broken.

What is unique about the Tempix solution is that it is coupled to the barcode on the price tag. If the product has been exposed to too much heat the barcode is destroyed and becomes illegible for the scanner.

An identical development comes from Japan, where “To-Genkyo” introduced an expiration date label concept, called Fresh Label. To-Genkyo designed an innovative hourglass shaped label for packaged meat which uses a special ink that changes colour as ammonia is released inside the package. As the meat ages, it releases increasing amounts of the substance, obscuring the barcode at the bottom. When the barcode becomes completely covered, it can’t be scanned. Like an hourglass, the bottom half of the label “fills up” as the meat ages. Consumers can judge the product’s freshness at a glance.

The label consists of two layers, with the bottom half under the film detecting the ammonia emitted from the meat, thus reflecting its freshness in the style of a slow-mo hourglass.

More, read the full article: Food Safety - Temperature Sensitive Labels Destroy Barcodes

Short, Shorter, the Shortest
The development of a new, light weight thread finish for plastic single and multi-serve soft drink bottles (250 ml - 2 litre), is an international undertaking under the auspices of the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT).

The result, the PCO 1881, creates thinner neck finishes and lighter-weight polyolefin closures, decreasing the amount of material used in pre-forms by 1.3 grams and in standard 28-mm closures by 0.5 grams. PCO 1881 has the added benefit of “green” engineering. Lightweighting a high-volume product like CSD bottles reduces the amount of post-consumer waste generated by the market-savings that on a global scale equate to hundreds of millions of pounds of resin per year.

However, a conversion - e.g. from PCO 1810 (5.1g / 21mm length) to PCO 1881 ISBT (3.8g / 17mm) - also means that bottling plants must be converted to be able to handle the new thread length. Here, up to € 250,000 in conversion costs are quickly incurred - money that can easily be saved using PCO 1881 med, an alternative developed by MHT - Mold & Hotrunner Technology AG.

The PCO 1881 med (also called ComPetCap) is 21 mm tall and only weighs 3.9g. This makes the new thread the lightweight alternative for owners of older bottling plants, as they can often only be converted to a shorter thread length at high cost.

More, read the full article: Short, Shorter, the Shortest

True Innovation from Process to Packaging
Preshafood of Australia uses a new high pressure processing system for its Preshafruit juice range, presented in unique triangular bottles. Preshafruit fruits juices are made by Donny Boy Fresh Food Company.

The HPP machine, from NC Hyperbaric of Spain, used by Donny Boy to create Preshafruit required the juice bottles to be triangular in order to fit the machines pressure vessel. This in itself created a unique approach to the packaging as no other juice bottle in the market features the wedge shape.

To cope with the enormous pressures of HPP, the pressure vessels are very small, in fact the diameter of the machine used to make Preshafruit is only 19cm. so that six of the Preshafruit triangle bottles forming a hexagon can fit inside the pressure vessel.

The triangular bottle allowed Design By Pidgeon to create three faces on the one bottle to express three different key messages and communicate the brand’s key story - 100% Australia - pressurised cold - just picked taste - and be especially effective when merchandised on supermarket shelves.

More, read the full article: True Innovation from Process to Packaging

From Doy-Pack to S-Pouch
Looking at the many introductions of ‘new’ products in stand-up pouches this packaging format has gained worldwide popularity. The basic Doyen design consists of two flat sheets sealed together along their sides, with a “W” fold running along the bottom. When the pouch is filled, the “W” opens and provides a base on which the pouch can stand.

The original Doyen design showed the top being sealed straight across, but subsequent modifications include fitments to allow the pouch to be re-closed after opening. That pouch design, including many variants, is the dominant style of the stand-up pouch.

The S-Pouch Company in Taiwan went a step further. They made a tube as body and sealing not one but two gussets (one at the bottom and one at the top with the spout) into the tube, the pouch not only looks as a bottle but stands more perfect and stabile and doesn’t tip over when half emptied as most of the tri-angular tapered stand-up pouches do.

This revolutionary design has more advantages as it can be filled, according to the designer, up to 90-97% of the pack size or in other words the same content offers a reduction in pouch size of up to 20%, resulting in 15-20% material reduction in comparison to the standard stand-up pouch.

Furthermore in the regular stand-up pouch only ‘canoe’ style fitments can be used, while the S-Pouch, with its double gussets allows for cylindrical fitments (even the new PCO 1881), avoiding the sealing problems which come with ‘canoe’ style fitments.

More, read the full article: From Doy-Pack to S-Pouch

Electroluminescent Technology and its Eye-Catching Potential
Electroluminescent technology is based upon the use of conducting, insulating and luminescent inks, which are suitable for manufacturing printed electroluminescent films.

In a further advancement of this technology, all of the electronic components have been further miniaturized, encompassing the integration of the driver into the printed electroluminescent film. This facilitates its incorporation in product packaging.

Employing the latest process technologies, Karl Knauer succeeded in attaching an illuminated display across several sides of the packaging and even on curved surfaces on the basis of printed electronics. This display functions with the optical phenomenon of electroluminescence to shine in different colours and to depict logos, images and texts, allowing for multi-coloured light effects and animations, such as flashing and fading.

All parts of the packaging design can be “HiLighted” - the logos, images, parts of images and text. Moreover, this smart packaging can also be equipped with motion sensors activating the light effects at the P.O.S. when a consumer comes closer.

More, read the full article: Electroluminescent Technology and its Eye-Catching Potential

Easy Pour Container For Dangerous Liquids
This new redesigned barrier structured 20-litres jug for Chlorpyrifos 500 insecticide from A&C Packers Pty Ltd. of Australia, with built-in handles on two sides and a tamper-evident, mechanical closure is 30-percent more efficient for transport and storage.

Usually full containers are shipped two-layers-high on a pallet which represents 640 litres of product for the steel drums, in contrast to the new jug shape which allows twenty jugs per layer, two high, adding up to 800 litres in the same space. The new jug also is reusable with a 5-year life cycle and recyclable as the resin from the recycled containers can be used to make drainage pipes.

Standard HDPE containers require to be fluorinated. Fluorination is a chemical reaction that introduces fluorine into a compound. It prevents container panelling and distortion and reduces chemical permeation, weight loss, odour emission and flavour or fragrance loss.

To bypass the additional fluorination step, A&C Packers developed a proprietary six-layer extrusion/blow-moulded HDPE container with the necessary barrier made of DuPont’s Selar polyamide, an amorphous nylon resin that needs no fluorination.

Besides the special barrier construction, the container also offers a new 63-mm, Easy Pour “glug-free”, tamper-evident, wedge-seal neck design from Dorony Pty Ltd. An elegant solution to the glugging problem relying on the container design along with the position of the neck.

More, read the full article: Easy Pour Container For Dangerous Liquids

Dispensing caps
Baby Boomers, their Gen Y kids and all following generations are convinced that a daily dose of a functional beverage, energy or vitamin drink can keep them youthful.

However the potency and effectiveness of functional beverages rely on the way in which ingredients are delivered. Deterioration of vitamins, herbs and other healthful ingredients starts from the moment they hit water, in other words from the moment a packaging for a ready-to-drink energy drink is filled in the factory. Vitamin C, for example, loses 80% of its potency after only 30 days.

In 2009 various companies developed solutions for this problem. Among others the VIZcap, BeriCap’s Life Top, the Delo Vitamin Cap and the Cedevita cap, but the best in my opinion is the Activate-cap. Activate launched a line of functional beverages that features a custom-designed cap to keep vitamins and other healthful ingredients fresh until consumption.

The vitamin drink consists of a 16 oz PET bottle filled with water and capped by a custom-made dispensing closure that stores 3 gr of dry ingredient. When the consumer twists the upper cavity of the cap clockwise, an internal blade within the closure turns and pierces a plastic membrane separating the powdered formula from the water. By cutting the sealed membrane, the ingredients are released into the beverage, which is then ready for consumption.

More, read the full article: More Bottle Caps for Sensitive Vitamins and Innovative Dispensing Bottle Caps for Sensitive Vitamins

Decorating a Champagne Bottle
This year the bottle for the Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2000, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, was decorated by the American painter Robert Rauschenberg, well-known for his “Combine” works that integrate the aspects of painting and sculpture.

The Rauschenberg Bottle, is encased in a moulded “shell” of DuPont Crastin PBT, and decorated using DuPont dye-sublimation technology - selected for its ability to accurately reproduce delicate artwork on complex shapes.

The artwork created by Rauschenberg uses a largely chromatic, but a very subtle palette of colours, with very light and “faded-looking” tones of mauve, brown and yellow, together with large areas of dark grey and black. 3D-sublimation printing was the most effective way of reproducing these very delicate colours on such a complex shape. 3D-sublimation printing requires a material for the shell that resists the temperatures incurred during the sublimation process.

Dye sublimation is a dye-transfer process. When the dyes are heated in this transfer process, they vaporize, and if they are in close proximity to a suitable substrate, such as a plastic or coating, the vapours penetrate the adjacent substrate by around 0.002 in. (0,005 mm) up to 0.25 in. (0,635 mm). The plastic substrate must be able to withstand temperatures of 280 to 375 ºF (138 to 190 ºC) necessary to vaporize the dye.

More, read the full article: Decorating a Champagne Bottle

Gaïa and Infinite Glass
The French glass manufacturer Saint-Gobain Desjonqueres SA created Infinite Glass, the 1st 100% recycled glass, from which sprouted the Gaia range of bottles and jars, designed by the design agency Extrême Paris and dedicated to the perfume and cosmetics market segment.

Glass, endlessly recyclable, is known to be one of the most environmentally friendly materials. Although 100% recyclable, its composition is never 100% the result of recycling.

Cullet, a raw material used by glassmakers, coming from selected glass waste and reintroduced into the glassmaking process, can account for up to 95% of the raw materials used for glass manufacturing. On average, cullet makes up 53% of the raw materials used for packaging containers. In the perfume industry, glass is usually composed of 30% of in-house cullet (recycling of the production loss) and 70% of raw materials (silica sand, limestone and soda ash).

Using a higher level of cullet in the glass production enables lower (virgin) raw material extractions, lower carbon dioxide emissions as each metric ton of cullet used in the furnaces results in a CO2-reduction emitted into the atmosphere of around 500 kg and lower energy consumption, since collected glass melts at a lower temperature than natural raw materials.

More, read the full article: Gaïa and Infinite Glass

Milk in a Bag - Innovative and Sustainable
The milk container market is exemplary of sustainable developments and design options within one of the most important and traditional of all the food and beverage packaging segments.

From the glass milk bottle to the existing plastic or cardboard containers over more than 60 years little changed in that market. Up till recently.

Daylesford, an organic UK dairy producer managed to innovate both structure and materials, resulting in a sensational milk packaging, which I baptized bag-pack.

Made from calcium carbonate, the biodegradable, bag-like plastic pack is cut into a striking jug shape. It is innovative, stylish and sustainable.
This package is made up from a flexible multi-layered polymer film, called Calymer, consisting of 60% polyethylene and polypropylene and 40% calcium carbonate. According to the manufacturer, the package weighs just 14 grams, which is a 40-50% reduction on a conventional liquid food carton or bottle.

Although flexible material, the bag-pack stands up steadily, thanks to the flat-bottom design that does the job. The air-filled handle makes it easy to get a grip and the spout makes it easy to pour.

Calymer should not be confused with biodegradable plastics on the market as they follow a different life-cycle. According to Ecolean’s site, a disposed Calymer package can either be recycled as a traditional plastic or “recovered as energy by incineration.”

More, read the full article: Milk in a Bag - Innovative and Sustainable

Gibco Cell Culture Bottle Design
Invitrogen, a division of Life Technologies, received the prestigious AmeriStar Package Award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals for its new Gibco cell culture bottle.

Invitrogen launched the redesigned Gibco bottle to offer scientists improved ease of use, storage efficiency, easier identification, and reduced sample contamination for their cell culture experiments.

The new bottle is designed by global design consultancy IDEO and manufactured by Graham Packaging Plastics.

Radical design innovations included an angled neck which matches the natural angle of hand and wrist when pipetting and with the addition of a cap label allows the researchers to identify the correct media and concentration all the way to the back of a fridge, an oversized neck diameter which reduces chance of pipette touching the neck of the bottle and transferring contamination in addition to allowing faster pouring and easier supplement additions, flat sides to aid handling for small hands, a squat design which can fit up to 25% more bottles into a refrigerator and has increased the room for supplementation from 10% to more than 20%, larger and easier to read labels with more blank space on back of label to provide writing space where researchers can list supplements added to media, and clear bottle sides which allow researchers to look for precipitation and signs of bacterial contamination.

That were the best innovations in 2009. Let’s see what is coming up in 2010.

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