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Ipack-Ima: Materials capture the spotlight

Several new material innovations designed to address sustainability, shelf-impact, and the challenges of e-commerce, make their debut at Ipack-Ima.

A patented preform from Invento is used to make shaped PET cans with an aluminum lid.
A patented preform from Invento is used to make shaped PET cans with an aluminum lid.

Perhaps you can point to Italy’s struggling economy, or perhaps to Italian machinery makers’ penchant for playing technology innovations close to the vest in such a competitive marketplace, but whatever the reason, new introductions of packaging machinery were limited at the 2015 edition of Ipack-Ima, held this week in Milan, Italy.

While robust and impressive equipment filled the roughly eight halls that housed the packaging portion of the show, much of it had been previously introduced. Some exhibitors promised new machines at upcoming shows, such as PACK EXPO Las Vegas and events geared toward markets such as coffee and health and beauty.

There were, however, some interesting material introductions designed specifically to meet current packaging trends such as sustainability, shelf impact, and e-commerce. Here are a few:

  • A new company from Poland, Invento, debuted its PET Can, which combines a plastic PET body with an aluminum lid. While the PET body/aluminum lid concept is not new, Invento Marketing & Sales Assistant Marcin Hakowski explained that the patented shape of Invento’s PET Can preform now allows the bottle to be stretch blow molded in a wide range of sizes and shapes, with the package accommodating virtually any beverage, including carbonated soft drinks and cold/hot-fill products. The bottle can be molded on existing equipment, with the lid double-sealed onto the body using standard aluminum can sealing technology. Among the advantages of the new package, Hakowski says the container is cheaper than aluminum and offers greater shelf impact due to its transparency and range of color options. In addition, up to 10-times more PET preforms can be transported in the same amount of space as aluminum can bodies. The PET Can can also be fitted with a resealable end, the XO end from German-based XOLUTION GmbH. 
  • From flexible packaging converter Lineapack, of Padua, Italy, a new adhesive-laminated material addresses the issue of recyclability of flexible packaging. The Sbucciapack is made from a layer of paper and a layer of film, joined by a water-based adhesive that allows the layers to be separated easily by the consumer for recycling. According to one of the owners, Tiziano Chinello, Lineapack has always been very conscious of the environmental impact of its products. The outer paper layer is made from either recycled material or paper sourced from certified forests. Water-based inks are used to print the paper in up to 10 colors flexo. The inner layer, selected based on barrier needs, can be constructed of virtually any type of film, including PP, PE, or PLA. So far, users of the material are Italian CPGs packaging products such as flour, pasta, and coffee, but Lineapack hopes to grow its customer base for the product globally.
  • With an exhibit booth fronted by pillars of corrugated with flutes up to 15-mm high, Grifal of Bergamo, Italy, debuted its cArtù corrugated material, designed to withstand greater compression while using less material. An alternative to EPS, or PE or PU foams for protective packaging, cArtù can be die-cut easily to hold products in place, with excellent shock absorption. The solution eliminates the need for plastic packaging and is 100% recyclable. Grifal also exhibited a packaging system designed for Eataly’s online business using Mondaplen “corrugated” PE foam. Boxes are filled with strips of Mondaplen foam, and products are firmly pressed into the material, which takes the shape of the product and provides a secure hold. Using just two box sizes, Eataly can now accommodate virtually all of its shipments.
  • At the RPC booth, its Superfos division showed its new EasySnacking™ package for spoonable yogurt and chilled deserts. The package consists of a thermoformed plastic “pot” with a spoon integrated into the lid of the package. To access the spoon, consumers tear off a self-adhesive peel-off label on the top of the package. The design is available in two versions—one with the spoon in the lid and one with a higher lid with room for both a topping (such as granola) and the spoon—and in a 210- or 300-mL size.
  • See also the new Easysnap one-hand opening sachet, also introduced at the show. 
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