Advanced nucleating agent helps reinvent the pharmaceutical bottle

December 12, 2015

3 Min Read
Advanced nucleating agent helps reinvent the pharmaceutical bottle

Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News staff

During NPE 2015 this week in Orlando, FL, Milliken & Co. announced a breakthrough in over-the-counter pharmaceutical and nutraceutical bottles. The development of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin hyper-nucleated with Milliken’s Hyperform® HPN-20E agent enables a 30% improvement in moisture and oxygen barrier performance vs. conventional HDPE. 

Using injection blow molding (IBM), this enhanced HDPE resin produces standard-gauge bottles that deliver longer product shelf life; or thinner-gauge bottles that are 15% lighter; or even broader options when these benefits are combined. This innovative application, using Hyperform HPN-20E hyper-nucleating agent, is expected to drive greater sustainability and quality in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical bottles, and appeal to manufacturers and consumers alike.

Milliken’s Hyperform HPN-20E hyper-nucleator raises the barrier properties of HDPE resins to a new level by altering crystal orientation to create a tortuous path that inhibits passage of moisture and oxygen. In effect, a permeant molecule must move through a maze of crystals that are linear and encircle the side walls of the bottle – a process that slows down permeation significantly. In contrast, HDPE that does not incorporate the Hyperform HPN-20E hyper-nucleating agent typically forms large, spherulitic crystals that do little to inhibit the transport of oxygen and moisture across the bottle.

“The proven safety and performance of our Hyperform HPN hyper-nucleating agent in FDA-compliant food packaging have been leveraged to achieve this noteworthy success for high-demand pharmaceutical applications,” said Reed Walker, business development and marketing manager, Plastics Additives, Milliken & Company. “Our advanced technology is helping drug and nutraceutical companies capitalize on new opportunities to increase the performance and sustainability of their packaging. At the same time, we have expanded the possibilities for the use of polyethylene for an entirely new class of packaging applications.”

IBM Offers Multiple Advantages

Injection blow molding is the industry standard for manufacturing small pharmaceutical bottles. It is very economical because a large number of parts can be produced simultaneously, helping to reduce energy usage per part. Injection blow molding also delivers a high-quality finish in the bottle neck for a superior seal, and provides excellent part-to-part consistency. Injection blow molding avoids the cost and effort of handling regrind because there is no flash produced at the top or bottom of the container. Further, because it is used for small bottles, IBM machinery is compact, which is particularly important when space is at a premium, such as in a clean room environment. 

Milliken’s Hyperform HPN hyper-nucleating agent enhances the economic benefits of IBM by raising manufacturing productivity through faster cycle times and offering the option to down-gauge bottle designs.

The combination of improved barrier performance to sustain product quality and the potential for thinner-wall designs that use less plastic – and thus reduce processing emissions – provides even greater value to customers in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. 

About Milliken

Milliken is an innovation company that has been exploring, discovering, and creating ways to enhance people’s lives since 1865. Working from our laboratories, application and development centers around the world, our scientists and engineers create coatings, specialty chemicals, and advanced additive and colorant technologies that transform the way we experience products from automotive plastics to children's art supplies. With expertise across a breadth of disciplines that also includes floor covering and performance materials, the people of Milliken work every day to add true value to people’s lives, improve health and safety, and make this world more sustainable. For more information, visit or

Hyperform is a registered trademark of Milliken & Company.

The Milliken logo is a trademark of Milliken & Company.

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