In one of my previous articles about the flexible packaging awards I published a photo of Research Institute VTT in Finland regarding a large surface light emitting plastic film based on OLED technology. An sich the photo had nothing to do with the article about the flexible packaging awards, but I thought the development so significant that I couldn’t stop myself to publish it, as I hadn’t time at that moment to write about it in detail.
That time is now, and we start our overview of recent packaging material developments with this Finnish one. We have some paper, corrugated and some plastics developments in this and the next article. But first the OLED technology.
Large surface light emitting plastic film
Based on OLED technology and using a printing machine, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd developed a method to create patterned and flexible light-emitting surfaces on advertising displays, info signs and lighting fixtures. The method also enables transparent smart surfaces to be attached to window panels or packaging.
Note: OLED technology – Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology is based on electroluminescence, as it occurs in an organic semiconductor. In OLED, an organic, light-emitting semiconductor is placed between two electrodes, one of which is transparent, letting out the light created in the structure. When conducted through the component, electric current produces light.
Until now OLED technology, using traditional microelectronics manufacturing methods, has only been found in glass surfaces, such as mobile phone displays and television sets.
With the VTT method, OLED elements can now be printed not only onto glass or steel surfaces, but also on flexible plastic films, enabling significantly larger light surfaces and expanding the usage possibilities of the technology.
Using gravure and screen printing, OLED light surfaces are around 0.2 mm thick, and include electrodes and polymer layers measuring up to a few hundred nanometres, in which the light emission occurs. This phenomenon is called electroluminescence. It entails an organic semiconductor emitting light in an electric field. The luminosity of OLED (lm/W) amounts up to around one third of an LED’s luminosity. The difference between OLED and LED is, that OLED emits light throughout its entire surface, whereas LED is a spotlight technology.
At this point, VTT’s plastic OLED film will only emit light for around a year, since light-emitting polymer materials are susceptible to oxygen and moisture. In the future, the film’s lifespan will increase as the development of screen protectors continues and the film’s application possibilities grow.
It is also possible to use OLED light as a transmitter in wireless data transfer, which opens up new possibilities for utilising printed light surfaces in Internet of Things applications. The development might be crucial for the 24/7 connectivity need of the young Gen-Z and consequently we will see a whole new generation of interactive packaging.
Brilliance meets function
Convinced that the paper market as a whole is a growing market and that there isn’t an overcapacity, Sappi Fine Paper Europe presented a new concept for folding boxboards (FBB), manufactured in its Maastricht/Netherlands mill, thus continuing to broaden the product portfolio of coated primary fibre boxboard grades for the packaging market.
With this new FBB Sappi hopes that customers will change categories from plastic to paper.
It is a multi-ply board produced on a single-wire board machine, designed to boost brightness and gloss with a silk touch. The new Sappi FBB combines bright-white finish with the rigidity and strength required in a folding box board to deliver perfect functionality with any type of carton board printing, converting, finishing or post-production handling that can be imagined.
Sappi claims to have achieved a brightness level of 99% on the top side, and on the reverse side, a brightness factor of 98% to accommodate the increasing demand for printing on both sides of the board for added impact.
With a face brightness of 99%, according to the company, ‘atelier’ is clearly better than the market standard, whose maximum for the industry is about 92%. The hybrid FBB is available in weights from 220 g/m² to 350 g/m².
The sample folder, titled “Brilliance meets function”, shows the characteristics of the new paperboard in an innovative way, using actual printing and pattern samples. Finishing techniques shown in the folder include C4 and Pantone multi-colour two-sided printing, hot-foil embossing, cold-foil transfer, blind and relief embossing, micro-embossing, matte, glossy and tactile varnishing, special matte foil lamination, as well as die-cutting and creasing.
Torayfan PWX5, a metallized BOPP film
Toray Plastics (America), Inc., introduced Torayfan PWX5, a metallized BOPP film that is designed for use as a high-performance inner moisture- and oxygen-barrier web in gas-flushed applications.
One side of the PWX5 film is vacuum-deposited aluminium on Toray’s proprietary ultra-barrier layer, which produces a packaging film that has superior metal adhesion and a shiny appearance. The other side of the film has a stable coefficient of friction (COF) and is heat-sealable. Overall, PWX5 offers excellent moisture-, aroma-, and flavour-barrier protection. In addition, its barrier durability makes it the preferred choice for applications requiring an extended shelf life.
New Torayfan PWX5 is especially suited for the packaging of salty, flavourful snacks, cookies, crackers, biscuits, and confectionery items.
Unique ‘Hot & Cold’ Advisories to Consumers
Chromatic Technologies (CTI) announced the availability of all Pantone colours for the company’s new “PowerCapsules” thermo-chromic plastic technology.
PowerCapsules offer customers the benefits of an enviable let-down ratio, temperature indication, and powered by new technology that drives vibrant colour and UV stability.
According to CTI, “Manufacturers can now provide a unique dimension to their products in whatever shade or tint they want, as the colours they seek are literally unlimited”.
CTI’s PowerCapsules have been qualified in applications as polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE).
PowerCapsules serve to enhance the consumer experience across a diverse range of products including QSR utensils, beverage closures, ice cream spoons, baby bath toys, coffee lids and soup bowls.
PowerCapsules are recyclable and are free of bisphenol-A.
Saica food tray
Europe’s first Corrugated Board Cleanroon is now in full production at Saica Pack’s Meco Plant. The unique, ground-breaking facility creates a space to manufacture corrugated containers, such as the Saica Form, that are suitable for contact with food in an environment with minimum contamination levels.
The Cleanroom has been set up to manufacture Saica Form, the thermoformed tray made of 100% recycled, recyclable and biodegradable corrugated board, which is a real alternative to plastic trays to present fruit, vegetables, bakery products, ready-made dishes or pizza.
The new container decomposes completely in 30 days, and its production generates 76% less CO2 than the production of PET packages, and 64% less than EPS (Expanded polystyrene) trays, which are frequently seen on supermarket shelves.
As one of the first the French supermarket chain Carrefour replaced its existing PET/EPS trays with Saica Form. The corrugated board tray can be reconfigured by the food packer in its different versions: flow-pack, heat sealed or film.
Another example is the Chesterford Group, in the UK famous for its fish-and-chips franchise. The Group used an extruded polystyrene foam (EPS foam) tray, but customers found this packaging inferior for at least three reasons.
First, it’s a poor-quality product. Second, it has a negative impact on the environment. And third, consumers do not like them.
The company chose the Saica tray, because among other reasons it could have a grease-resistant barrier on it, and it keeps the heat in just as well as the foam tray it replaces.
Saica added a special coating, a food-contact-approved aqueous dispersion of copolymers and waxes applied to both linerboards during the corrugating process, that helps the E-flute tray withstand the grease that makes fish and chips the delectable treat that it is.
Post-printed graphics are done in two-colour flexo. Thermoforming is done with vacuum and plug assist on specially modified equipment with a depth of draw of 29mm.
I have more developments in packaging material, but that will be for a next article, in which we will meet Tekni-Plex EdgePull induction seal liners, the Low Tack Adhesive (LTA) packaging reclosure of Battelle-Mondelez, RollPrint’s Exponent non-crystalline film and Toray’s bio-based LumiLid Film.