A Smattering of Day-One Findings from PACK EXPO Las Vegas

On today's Take Five, PACK EXPO veterans Jim Chrzan and Pat Reynolds curate first day discoveries in this tip-of-the-iceberg reflection of the packaging industry’s triumphant return to trade shows.


Quick hits:

  • Trade shows are back in a big way, as the largest American trade show to date, PACK EXPO Las Vegas, outdid even the wildest expectations.
  • All-paper blister packs’ more recycling-friendly mono-material structure helps brands make sustainability strides.
  • The SaaS (Software as a Service) model now extends to Machinery as a Service (MaaS), as emerging brands can buy time and capacity on a machine rather an entire machine.
  • Digital printing meets sachet-style film packs in a single monoblock machine, where brands (or more likely, co-packers) can accomplish short to medium runs of uniquely branded packs. 

Related to this episode:    

Syntegon: How will the Future be Formed? Discover how Paper Trays will Replace Plastic. Visit their website for more information. →
Listen to the story here:

   Read the transcript below:

Matt Reynolds: Hi, I'm Matt Reynolds, Editor of Packaging World Magazine, back with another edition of Take Five. Well, I'm just back from PACK EXPO Las Vegas. It was actually stressing me out trying to figure which of the mountain of content that we produced, whether it's video or traditional articles I was going to be able to serve up in this format. But luckily, two of my colleagues have done that for me already. My esteemed colleagues, Jim Chrzan and Pat Reynolds, were live at the show every day just to wrap up what they saw on each of the three days. Curating content as they saw best represented the show itself. So without further ado, I will bring you Pat Reynolds and Jim Chrzan and day one at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

Jim Chrzan: Hi, this is Jim Chrzan, and I'm the Vice President of Content for the PMMI Media Group. We're here at PACK EXPO Las Vegas day one with Packaging World Editor Emeritus and old friend, Pat Reynolds. Pat, this is not your first PELV rodeo by any stretch. What was different this time out?

Pat Reynolds: Well, the masks were certainly one thing, but people got used to them and it worked out fine to be honest with you. The other thing is there's just almost this giddiness about being at a show, kicking the tires again, seeing the machines and not wondering what they really look and feel like. That's been one big difference.

Jim Chrzan: I definitely know that all our friends with the show at PMMI are very pleased about the turnout, and what a great day one. What were some of the things that you saw that kind of floated your editorial boat?

Pat Reynolds: Well, if you think about print, form, fill and seal, normally they're not done in one machine, done consistently like that. But there is a company called V-Shapes, and they make this sort of a machine. Not only that, on the printing side it includes digital printing from Memjet, which is one of the leading suppliers of digital print. They call it the Alpha-Flex system, and it's vertical integration, and what it allows is the brand owner or the cold packer can now take all this work inside and not have outside vendors doing it for them. They're at CE4703.

Jim Chrzan: So they're not printing large roles in advance and then loading them into the form field, they're creating it at the same time.Pat Reynolds:Very much so. Just like all the digital stuff. It's short runs or medium runs and quick response.

Jim Chrzan: Fascinating.

Pat Reynolds: Very cool.

Jim Chrzan: Fascinating. A lot of these details are going to be in Pat's podcast, which can be found on packworld.com any time day after the show. But what were some of the other things you saw?

Pat Reynolds: Yeah, a couple more things, actually. All-paper blister pack. The pressure on CPG companies to come up with sustainable packaging has just become overwhelming, as I'm sure you've heard throughout the course of the day. So imagine a blister pack that's not plastic, that's what we're always used to and is all paper, both the form part and the backing card. This is being done at Starview and they're doing it in concert with Rohrer, Rohrer being the board supplier and Starview the machinery company. It's all about tooling. So when the board that's going to get formed, when it gets picked, it's placed in tooling and then believe it or not thanks to very finely done scoring by Rohrer, the blank which is flat gets formed in the tool and then the toothbrush or the pen or whatever goes into the package. Then it's heat sealed and it's done.

Jim Chrzan: Now, clearly you're losing the see-through nature of what you'd get out of a blister. You then decorate or pre-decorate the form so that there's something on there?

Pat Reynolds: I asked the same question, and that's exactly what they said. It's all about graphics. With the right graphics, you can come up with a really dazzling package.

Jim Chrzan: And a consumer looking for some kind of commitment from a CPG would enjoy that it's no longer plastic.

Pat Reynolds: Totally. That's the other thing that both companies said is that the pressure from customers to come up with something like this just became overwhelming, and it provided the business reason for them to proceed with the investment.

Jim Chrzan: Fascinating. It seems like after years of talking about sustainability, we've reached some kind of magical tipping point, right?

Pat Reynolds: Well, speaking of which, at Harpak Ulma trayless ground meat was being shown. Now this is going to be a tough road to hoe because American consumers are really married to the idea of a tray and wrap for their ground meat.

Jim Chrzan: Interesting.

Pat Reynolds:So it's very popular in Europe, but the pressure there has been much more longstanding, and so consumers have adapted to it there. It's a bit of a gamble, but they think the time is right, Harpak Ulma does anyway. I think they're even at the innovation stage showing the technology.

Jim Chrzan: Very good.

Pat Reynolds:It's flow pack and it's back flushed, and it's got a pretty good shelf life. One big difference between Europe and here is their distances are shorter. We may need more barrier in the films we use here, but those are details they think they can work out.

Jim Chrzan: Interesting. All right. Pat, thank you so much. We'll talk to you again tomorrow afternoon and don't forget, Pat has a podcast at packworld.com where he goes into much more detail about the show.Pat Reynolds: Thank you, Jim. Thank you very much.

Jim Chrzan: All right. Thanks everyone. Thank you very much.

Matt Reynolds: There you have it. That's just the tip of the iceberg. That's just day one. We'll have more content just like it, but stay tuned for now for a PSA from PMMI.

More in Take Five