To the most intense packaging wonks, packaging isn’t everything. It’s the ONLY thing, often prompting them to make great leaps of faith to fulfill their dreams.

To the most intense packaging wonks, packaging isn’t everything. It’s the ONLY thing, often prompting them to make great leaps of faith to fulfill their dreams.

• Was daredevil Felix Baumgartner on a packaging mission when he jumped out of the Red Bull Stratos capsule last October? Some of us think so.

“Fearless Felix” became the first human to break the sound barrier garbed in only a pressurized space suit. One of the things being stressed by his sensational skydive was the seal strength of the space suit (a flexible container, if there ever was one) that protected him as he plummeted through space.

If Red Bull comes out in a carbonation-retaining pouch, some may connect the dots between that packaging achievement and a supersonic skydiver who jumped out of a metal canister, falling faster (Mach 1.25) and farther (24.21 miles) than any other human with nary a pinhole in his four-layer flexible package, err, jumpsuit.

• Jim Koch, founder of Boston Brewing Co. (BBC) and brewer of Samuel Adams beer is jumping out of his comfort zone by introducing an aluminum can eight years after declaring that “beer shall be offered in bottles, not cans, so that no brew is jeopardized with the taste of metal.”  What changed Koch’s mind was either (A) two years of ergonomic and sensory research leading to a can (from Ball Corp.) designed to give you “a drinking experience that is closer to the taste and comfort of drinking beer from a glass” or (B) the fact that glass beer bottles are banned in many venues, jeopardizing Sam Adams sales.

The new can, dubbed the “Sam Can,” rises straight up to a deep, hourglass necked-in profile that supports a wide end designed to provide “a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can.”

BBC declined to respond to our questions about the can, saying, “we do not talk about our manufacturing processes, packaging or anything marketing related.” Still, a video (b.globe.com/Yzkn65) from Boston Globe offers some informed insight into the can’s development.

“The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can,” says taste tester Roy Desrochers of GEI Consultants, “work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience—something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience.” BBC will fill the cans on a $1 million line installed in its Breinigsville, PA, brewery.

• In the push to enhance performance while simplifying the architecture of packaging materials, we packaging technology scouts have some intriguing laboratory/pilot/pioneering work to investigate. Consider this one for example: waterproof, magnetic, antibacterial paper constituted in the nanotechnology labs of the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia that could conceivably be used for food packaging. Or how about a starch seaweed extract developed as a coating for paper/board by The Paint Research Association, an EU surface coatings research consortium?

And then there’s magnets. Pioneering the commercial use of magnetism as a carton opening/reclosing feature is Stride iD gum from Kraft Foods. Specialty packaging producer ASG (AGI-Shorewood Group), working with technology developed by Magnet Notes, Ltd., Toledo, OH, magnetically overprints the cartons with what ASG calls the “only inline fully automated converting printing process in the world that can do this.” 

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