Contract packager MaxPax reveals additional details about the one-of-a-kind, pouch-within-a-pouch Squeasy Pouch produced on “exotically” modified horizontal form-fill-seal equipment.
Commercialized by brand owner EcoSierra and attached to a 24oz PET bottle of ready-to-use cleaner, the Squeasy Pouch—a 3oz pouch-within-a-pouch concentrate—is the patent-pending brainchild of contract packager MaxPax LLC. EcoSierra marketing manager Jon Klahr is quick to credit for MaxPax’s role in product and package development that has resulted in the market traction the company is seeing and the buzz its new line of cleaning products is creating, thanks to the Squeasy Pouch.
“It’s all about working with our contract packager,” says Klahr. “MaxPax has been formulating and packaging cleaners for years, but they have also opened our eyes to make us look outside the box if you will. They have been unbelievably helpful in sitting down with us, working with some of their resources and creatively coming up with new ways to do things. I can’t say enough about them.”
“MaxPax has been formulating and packaging cleaners for years, but they have also opened our eyes to make us look outside the box, if you will,” says Klahr. “They have been unbelievably helpful in sitting down with us, working with some of their resources and creatively coming up with new ways to do things. I can’t say enough about them.” For more on the brand owner’s Squeasy Pouch experience, see Inventive pouch is a springboard for source reduction, reuse and growth published earlier this week.
One of his key contacts is August Meinerz, business development manager for MaxPax LLC, which owns the Squeasy Pouch patent and handles the company’s chemical and industrial contract packaging operations, and for sister company U.S Packaging LLC, which handles contract packaging of food and beverage products.
Meinerz explains that, in development since 2012, the Squeasy Pouch invention was born of the packager’s desire to change the way concentrates, as well as other liquids, are manufactured, distributed and consumed. “We’ve worked with customers that have tried to package concentrates in flexible pouches,” he says. “The pouch reduces by about 95% the amount of packaging required when a bottle is reused. Getting a liquid into a pouch is easy. The difficulty comes when users try to get that liquid out and into a narrow-neck bottle. They try to pour it and it spills everywhere.
“The Squeasy Pouch solves the problems for solutions that are either a bottle—which makes measuring and transferring a hassle—or a standard pouch that can spill and almost guarantees a mess when pouring."
MaxPax solves all that with the Squeasy Pouch by sealing an inner “frangible” (or breakable) film that’s a proprietary blend of several types of poly and an additive to an outer PET film along with a linear-low-density polyethylene sealant. The inner film holds the liquid back until the pouch is cut, inserted into a bottle and squeezed, breaking the inner membrane and forcing the liquid out.
“It helps control the liquid to ensure that all of it ends up inside the container,” adds Meinerz. “You never have any mess.”
Meinerz says the minimum pouch width is 2.5 inches and the maximum is around 8 inches. To customize the Squeasy Pouch for EcoSierra, MaxPax changed it from a square to a triangle-shaped bottom so that it can fit into a narrow-neck bottle. Packaging Digest covered the invention in an article March 2014 (pdlinks.com/MaxPax). The initial patent filing made so many claims that the U.S. Patent Office rejected it, notifying them that it would have to split it into two patents, Meinzer says. He feels that the pair of patents is close to being finalized by the USPO.
The company developed the pouch to be run on its own, highly modified horizontal form/fill/seal system that’s the first in the world to produce the specialized pouches. The forming half of the machine was obscured by a sheet of film for our on-site visit, though the filling and sealing portion that was viewable seemed a pretty conventional operation.
We couldn’t help but ask: What’s behind the (literal) plastic curtain?
“We had to alter the whole front of the machine to make this work,” responds Meinerz. “It’s very exotic.”
That’s all he would say.
The pouches emerge from the forming section held in clamps for one-up filling, followed by indexing to a heat-sealing station for the top seal. From there they are indexed to a punching station that makes a 1-inch diameter hole to convert the filled pouch into a neck hanger format for EcoSierra before they are released to a short takeaway conveyor.
The system operates at rates of 20 pouches per minute, with speeds restricted by the punching station, according to Meinerz.
In parallel with this latest development and while remaining in R&D mode for EcoSierra’s plans for more Squeasy Pouch variations, MaxPax continues to find more applications in other markets as well, such as food, beverage, personal care and home/garden products.
“We’ve just pitched this concept to a drink company,” Meinerz says, an application that would be handled by the U.S. Packaging division.
He also discloses that they are developing a two-chambered pouch that can accept a different fill in each chamber: “It would be applicable in many markets.”
MaxPax LLC, 262-275-3484