Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Articles from 2014 In July

High-speed inkjet printer: Product of the Day

High-speed inkjet printer: Product of the Day

There is a huge leap in understanding packaging equipment by seeing it in the real world at a tradeshow compared to responding to an emailed press release. That added value takes a quantum leap forward when the person in the booth knows the machine literally inside and out.

Such was the case last week at TexasPack in Fort Worth, where one of the highlighted machines at the booth of Markem-Imaje was the vendor’s 9232S small-character inkjet printer optimized for high-speed, 24/7 beverage packaging operations.  “Beverage” is a broad term these days that includes the following substrates: PET, metal, glass, liquid carton bricks and pouches. My in-booth expert was David Podwika, central div. sales manager. In short, I was impressed by the attention to detail for several key aspects of the machine.

Specifically engineered to print up to 120,000 cans per hour and with up to 5 lines of text available, the 9232S has been designed for beverage-specific applications with an eye of increasing uptime and decreasing the total cost of ownership. In fact, Podwika says a standard preventive maintenance cycle time of 2-3 times/year has been stretched to 18 months with this re-engineered printer.

Among others, aspects that were carefully designed for performance and efficiency include:

  • A cartridge-loaded continuous inkjet system adapted to 24/7 operation;
  • Use of a smartphone-like 7-inch color touchscreen interface for ease of operation;
  • Efficient venturi that adapts the incoming air supply for vacuum;
  • A condenser on the cabinet’s interior captures and reuses solvent to decrease the use of consumables.

It is available in two stainless-steel, modular printheads, for either 71 dpi or 115 dpi resolution, that offer true, tool-less alignment,  Podwika says.

The system has been trialed at a large bottler, he adds.


Markem-Imaje Introduces the SmartDate® X40-IP, a Water Resistant Thermal Transfer Coder

Markem-Imaje Introduces the SmartDate® X40-IP, a Water Resistant Thermal Transfer Coder

Designed expressly for companies in the poultry, meat, fruit and vegetable and pre-made sandwich industries where frequent production line cleaning is a requirement, the new SmartDate X40-IP thermal transfer coder has been engineered to withstand water ingress.

Officially certified, this fully industrial solution is made of stainless steel. Its enclosures, specifically designed for humid environments, effectively keep out moisture during plant cleaning. All openings to the electronics are sealed including the ports for the connecting cable and USB.

With the SmartDate X40-IP, preparation for cleaning is very easy and user-friendly. The connecting cables do not have to be removed and a step-by-step process in the user interface guides the operator through the procedure.

The SmartDate X40-IP has also been designed so that customers can choose to protect either the printer or the controller or both, thereby reducing costs.

For companies already operating SmartDate X40 coders and using homemade solutions to protect their equipment during plant cleaning, IP upgrades by a trained Markem-Imaje service engineer are possible.

Finally, the new SmartDate X40-IP coder benefits from the already proven SmartDate technology. It can print large amounts of complex information on flexible packaging films. It delivers speed, quality and reliability thanks to an intelligent printhead that optimizes print quality and an efficient, waste-reducing ribbon. The extended ribbon length to 1,100 meters reduces ribbon changeovers and increase uptime.

Promotion Codes: Markem-Imaje Launches a Simple, Easy-to-use Solution

Promotion Codes: Markem-Imaje Launches a Simple, Easy-to-use Solution

Markem-Imaje, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of product identification and traceability solutions, launches a simple, easy-to-use solution for printing promotion codes on products. This solution is the first in a complete range designed to address every promotional coding need, from the simplest to the most advanced.

Promotional campaigns increasingly require a unique code (text or 2D code) to be printed on each packaging. Today, Markem-Imaje can offer manufacturers a simple, instant, stand-alone solution that has no impact on productivity. It is thus addressing a growing demand on the part of brands - in the food and beverage industry in particular - for coding solutions to help promote their products.

Configured on site, the Promotion Coding option proposed by Markem-Imaje is immediately operational. It works on all the principal Markem-Imaje printers: 9232 inkjet printers, SmartDate X40 and SmartDate X60 thermal transfer coders and, very soon, SmartLase laser coders.

It is extremely easy to use: the codes to be printed are simply saved in text file format onto a USB flash drive, which is connected to the printer. The codes are then uploaded by the printer all along the production process. Production line output is completely unaffected thanks to a built-in memory buffer and thanks to printer capacity to code at high speed.

This software option is an ideal alternative to traditional existing solutions, such as pre-printed codes on packaging and insertion of cards. Above all, it eliminates the need to install a costly and hard to implement real-time controller on each production line to send codes to the printer, one by one.

Other more advanced solutions, using Markem-Imaje's CoLOS software, are expected to be available soon. In network mode, several printers will be able to be controlled from a central point. These advanced solutions will also offer enhanced security, with optional video code-checking, automated code file management and reporting functions.

Markem-Imaje Debuts High-speed, High Resolution Thermal Inkjet Solution: The New 1050 Printer

Markem-Imaje Debuts High-speed, High Resolution Thermal Inkjet Solution: The New 1050 Printer

The 1050 thermal inkjet printer provides an ideal option for customers who seek high resolution codes for general coding, improved traceability and promotional coding at fast-moving line speeds.

Markem-Imaje, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of product identification and traceability solutions, has announced the introduction of the 1050 integrated thermal inkjet printer to further complement Markem-Imaje’s product offering. The 1050 produces high resolution serialized data and complex 1D and 2D barcodes on fast-moving production lines in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and other industries. The new 1050 printer is also designed to excel at case coding in dusty, humid or corrosive environments.

According to Christophe Lopez, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Markem-Imaje, the introduction of the 1050 thermal inkjet printer is a response to the demands of an evolving industry. He explains, “Increasingly, customers around the world require serialized product identification solutions, both for enhanced traceability as well as the ability to deliver customized product promotional coding in short runs. That’s precisely what the 1050 delivers. Thermal inkjet is a proven technology in the marketplace and the new Markem-Imaje 1050 offers more, thanks to a system that can produce text, logos and high density graphics as high as 600 x 600 dpi, even at rapid line speeds.”

The 1050’s high-speed accuracy is due to the precision control of 600 separate ink nozzles, allowing variable dpi from 1 to 600 for optimal printing. The flexible printhead can print codes from 12.7 mm up to 50.8 mm high.

The 1050 is easy to maintain because it features ink cartridges that combine the printhead and ink, which means no moving parts. It’s simple and free from hassle, with snap-in and -out cartridges, allowing operators to maintain the 1050 with minimal line interruption, and keeping availability high.

The 1050 thermal inkjet utilizes the same easy-to-use 7” touch-screen user interface with intuitive WYSIWYG as other Markem-Imaje products. It is fully compatible with Markem-Imaje’s powerful CoLOS® coding software as an option for network control of all Markem-Imaje printers.

The Fastest 9232 S Inkjet Printer for the Beverage Industry

The Fastest 9232 S Inkjet Printer for the Beverage Industry

Markem-Imaje presents the new, the faster 9232 S inkjet printer covering all beverage sector needs. Code all packages such as cans, bottles, returnable glass bottles, bricks, flexible pouches, caps, packs and shrink-wraps with a new range of high-contrast inks with MEK or MEK-free. The 9232 S is able to print quality codes on up to 120,000 products per hour with excellent readability. The printhead and cabinet are entirely stainless steel and IP56 protected, a unique market feature providing perfect water-tightness which makes high-pressure cleaning possible. 

Wonka wins with resealable wrap

Wonka wins with resealable wrap

Resealable packaging turned out to be the golden ticket for the Wonka Chocolate Bar, winning film converter Printpack a 2014 AmeriStar Award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). The Reseal-It feature creates a wrapper that guarantees a hermetic seal (ensuring freshness and tamper evidence) yet peels open easily the entire circumference of the wrap. Integrated into the flow-wrap machinery, the Reseal-it system perforates the film and places a label exactly over the fine perforation. When the consumer opens the pack, no part of the film is removed, though. The label overlaps the perforation to provide a secure tape reseal, keeping any remaining product fresh.

I would imagine there are some people on this planet who can eat just a portion of a chocolate bar and save the rest for later. I, however, am not in that demographic.

Growth and fragmentation in flexibles gives brands food for thought

Growth and fragmentation in flexibles gives brands food for thought
VerDeSoft’s hybrid paperboard pouch is one of the early examples of mashing the eco-responsible attributes of paperboard with the format and functionality of a squeeze-to-dispense pouch. The paperboard provides the rigidity necessary to withstand the pressure of squeezing and “extruding” fresh pasta while the flexible pouch-like format offers point-of-purchase differentiation on shelf for the brand, extended shelf life and a unique user experience for consumers.

From shortbreads to nibble during a relaxing afternoon tea to jellied snacks for tots to cosmetics targeting low income consumers, flexible packaging—and specifically pouches and sachets—are currying favor among diverse global consumers.

By offering unique shapes, functional components and general conveniences that address use-occasion, demographic and even geographic need states, pouches are literally and figuratively bending over backwards to find new applications and pleasing a growing consumer constituency. Unlike competitive formats that may cater primarily to premium products or that may be pigeon-holed in a niche segment, pouches are increasingly being recognized as one of the most highly versatile packaging formats today. That means the category, by both form and function, is becoming extremely fragmented. That alone could be good news for converters and brand owners seeking to innovate and differentiate.

Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows an overall growth of 34% between 2009 and 2013 in new food-product launches recorded in all types of flexible packaging in the United States. In the U.K. in 2013, 37% of new food-product launches recorded in GNPD were in flexibles. There was a marked rise in launches of food packaged in stand-up pouches in 2013, which has continued into the first three months of 2014 according to Mintel’s U.K. Food Packaging Report, published May 2014. In Brazil, the use of flexibles for food grew 24% year over year from 2012 to 2013, while China experienced 8% growth.

On a global scale, the use of pouches for snacks grew 7% between 2012 and 2013. The use of pouches for sauces/seasonings enjoyed even healthier growth during the same period, rising 20%.

But the big category winners are side dishes and baby foods, growing 58% and 102%, respectively, during that one year period. During the five-year period 2009 to 2013, pet foods experienced 32% growth in the use of pouches.

During the past decade, flexibles, and pouches specifically, have captured share from competing rigid formats across previously untapped categories, and have been accepted, if not embraced, by U.S. consumers—the last to fully buy into the use of pouches for everything from motor oil to olives. This has occurred largely due to such functional attributes as format- and brand-specific shapes; attention to on-the-go occasions, particularly for kids’ products; and, to a lesser and less-accepted degree, refills.

Going forward, aesthetics, shape, and screw-on, zippers and press-to-seal closures likely won’t be enough to satisfy logistics and retailer demands, or brand owner and consumer desires. At that point, the tide for flexibles could turn to the next generation of flexibles…the hybrid flexible-rigid format, where the best of cartons and films come together for a perfect packaging union.


Author David Luttenberger is the Global Packaging Director at Mintel. He has 24 years’ packaging experience. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @packaginggeek.

Growth and fragmentation in flexibles gives brands food for thought: gallery

VerDeSoft’s hybrid paperboard pouch is one of the early examples of mashing the eco-responsible attributes of paperboard with the format and functionality of a squeeze-to-dispense pouch. The paperboard provides the rigidity necessary to withstand the pressure of squeezing and “extruding” fresh pasta while the flexible pouch-like format offers point-of-purchase differentiation on shelf for the brand, extended shelf life and a unique user experience for consumers.

From shortbreads to nibble during a relaxing afternoon tea to jellied snacks for tots to cosmetics targeting low income consumers, flexible packaging—and specifically pouches and sachets—are currying favor among diverse global consumers, as these four examples show.

How2Recycle Label succeeds with companies and consumers

GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) held its Spring Conference recently in San Francisco, bringing together professionals from companies, government agencies and other non-profits interested not only in packaging sustainability, but sustainability overall as it applies to products and systems.

During the meeting, the SPC released the Soft Launch Report for the How2Recycle Label, detailing the findings of the past year. In all, 12 companies have joined the program—Kellogg's the most recent. The soft launch findings verify the How2Recycle Label is understood by consumers, leads consumers to action, elicits positive impressions of products and companies, and meets Federal Trade Commission requirements. 

The Label also proved to be a valuable tool for companies wishing to understand the specific recyclability of their packaging. In short, it is fulfilling the project goal of improving both the quality and quantity of package recycling. 

To help potential participants understand the business perspective of How2Recycle Label implementation, one of the SPC meeting breakout sessions featured the stories of three companies: Sealed Air, Kellogg Co. and Seventh Generation.

Laura Taney of Sealed Air kicked off the presentation focusing on the company's experience implementing the "Store Drop-off" version of the label for polyethylene (PE) films on its Fill Air inflatable packaging. Taney recommended internal training and involvement happen early, particularly with marketing and legal departments. It considered participation in the H2R Label to be a great success, as it:

• Strengthened relationships with its customers;

• Contributed to sales growth;

• Enhanced the value of its products; and 

• Improved overall sustainability value propositions for Sealed Air and its customers.

Sealed Air will be placing the Label on additional PE film products in the near future.

Next, Melissa Craig of Kellogg Co. shared her perspective. The company's goals in using the Label centered on informing its consumers on the recyclability of all package components and delivering a consistent message across all brands, in addition to being the first in the cereal category to use the Label.

Craig found that, because new products were involved, a non-disclosure agreement was essential. The How2Recycle License Agreement now includes an NDA section as an important learning from the soft launch. Finally, Craig found that a desire to move forward quickly must be balanced with an approach that takes into consideration varying packaging types, previously used recyclability language and company-wide communications. The Label was introduced on Special K cereal in April 2013, with other brands following soon after.

Peter Swaine of Seventh Generation was the final speaker. Seventh Generation's focus on using post-consumer recycled content drove its support of the How2Recycle Label. As of April 2013, the company has used it on 71 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

Seventh Generation is incorporating the Label on all packaging as the label art is updated. A key internal tool was creating a "How2Recycle Library" that showed the appropriate label for each packaging type.

Swaine described the need to "run the gauntlet" of departments when doing internal consulting on the Label, including creative, operations, packaging, consumer science, claims, quality assurance, regulatory/legal, consumer relations and brand management. 

For the Label to have maximum effectiveness, additional participation is needed. See for more information.

Author Anne Bedarf is a senior manager at GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition. For information about the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, visit


Justice is served by low-cost, compostable cushioning

Justice Design Group packagingAs with any customized product, the lighting fixtures manufactured by Justice Design Group are made-to-order. So when the president and the plant manager of the California-based designer of residential and commercial lighting began considering new packaging solutions, product protection was a top priority. 

"Our products are highly customizable, which means we have to manufacture them again if they are broken in-transit," explains Brandon Levin, president of Justice Design Group and grandson to the factory's original founder. "While damage can be particularly costly to our business, the state of the construction and building industry means that we had to find a protective packaging solution that offered premium protection at the greatest value." 

The company's Sealed Air sales representative, Ann Regan, introduced Justice Design to Sealed Air's new PakNatural loose-fill solution. Made from non-food renewable materials, PakNatural loose fill not only met his company's criteria for product protection and value, but also offered environmental sustainability as a certified compostable packaging solution.

Hundreds of SKUs

With more than 250 different shapes and 30-plus different finishes, Justice Design fixtures are sold through a network of approximately 1,500 distributors in the U.S. and Canada that display and stock the product. The business requires a packaging solution that will protect the company's unique and fragile ceramic light fixtures as they are shipped across the U.S. and Canada.

Before, Justice Design used an interlocking corrugated solution for blocking and bracing the fragile products. "We found that our employees had a hard time handling the previous packaging solution, which required them to wear gloves for protection against the sharp edges of the interlocking pieces," says Levin. "We already had an existing relationship with Sealed Air from the installation of PackTiger paper packaging systems that create paper cushions for blocking and bracing our retail-facing boxed items during shipping. When [Regan] approached us about a new sustainable loose-fill solution that could reduce our costs, we told her to bring it in for testing."

"We found that PakNatural loose fill was the best fit for their products and operations for a number of reasons," adds Regan. "The fixtures have a lot of curves and pressure points, and this product can easily get into those areas to protect and support them."

"I've described Sealed Air's PakNatural loose fill as the ‘next generation of packaging peanuts,'" remarks Levin. "It does a great job preventing our products from moving around in the box and is lighter than the interlocking corrugate material we were using before. On top of that, the product is environmentally sustainable, which is increasingly important to many of the architects and designers we're working with."

Solution shines in tests 

The Justice Design Group conducted initial drop tests internally and then sent product to Sealed Air's Packaging Design Center in City of Industry, CA, for additional drop and vibration tests. From there, Regan worked with the local Unisource Worldwide representative to perform drop tests and cost analyses, the results of which were presented to Levin.

After two to three months of tests, Justice Design began integrating the solution slowly into its shipping by the end of 2011. It continued to track shipments to ensure the new material was protecting their products. By the beginning of 2012, the company completely switched over to Sealed Air cushioning products.

Changes were minimal because Justice Design's packaging operations were already set up for loose-fill packaging in the form of two overhead supply bladders, which hold approximately 60 cubic feet of PakNatural loose fill. When packing fixtures, employees first fill the boxes with about two inches of material dispensed from a bladder. Once the product is added, the remaining space is filled with at least another two inches of material before the case is tape-sealed for shipment. 

"Depending on demand, our packaging operations will pack 300 to 900 packages a day," explains Justice Design's plant manager Natividad Urrutia. "While demand isn't highly seasonal, shipments do tend to pick up in the spring and again around October." She notes that the supply bladders are refilled about twice a day. 

Urrutia reports a positive employee reaction to the changeover: "The old solution involved a machine that would fold the interlocking corrugate material, and employees reported that it was very noisy when packaging a particularly large item. Now they no longer have to wear gloves."

The external reaction to the changeover was positive as well. "Our shipping partners are very favorable to Sealed Air packaging solutions from an insurance standpoint," says Levin. "We included cards in our boxes to educate our customers about the new solution and the sustainable characteristics as a compostable material. 

"It can be difficult to get all of our products packaged and shipped from the West Coast to the East Coast in one piece, so we've been very impressed by the performance. The fact that Sealed Air's PakNatural loose fill is an affordable, sustainable material that can keep our costs down by maintaining low claims rates and reducing the weight of our shipments is huge to us."

Sealed Air Corp., 800-648-9093

Unisource Worldwide, 800-864-7687