Interpack 2017 is behind us, but I still have some items which I like to highlight. For this instalment it is the folding carton. The fun characteristic of folding cartons is that in the last years we have seen the most amazing and interesting constructions and applications. The designers of folding cartons are very creative and the future of folding carton incorporating (among many other fancy and useful things) printed electronic circuitry will allow consumer products to gather, process, display and transmit information. Not just for the benefit of the marketing boys and girls, but also for example, the cartons could send messages to the phone of the consumer, warning them that the product is about to go out-of-date.
The ‘nano-computers’ could unlock the potential for smart food packaging that displays a digital countdown to not warn consumers when their milk is about to go off, or wine labels that alert consumers when their wine is at its optimum temperature, but also a window pane that shows the day’s weather forecast or the latest news.
The above future vision is based on research results of scientists at AMBER (Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research) at Trinity College Dublin, who created printed transistors from 2-dimensional nanomaterials for the first time. The research, headed by Dr Jonathan Coleman, was carried out in collaboration with Prof Laurens Siebbeles from the TU Delft in the Netherlands.
The team used standard printing techniques to combine graphene nano-sheets as the electrodes with two other nanomaterials – tungsten diselenide and boron nitride – as the channel and separator (two important parts of a transistor) to form an all-printed, all-nano-sheet, working transistor. These nano-sheets are flat nanoparticles that are a few nanometres thick but hundreds of nanometres wide.
But apart from the wide future possibilities of intelligent packaging, folding cartons amazes the world with the results of the good old mechanical technology that lays at the basis of folding cartons in general, but blossomed into one of the most creative activities in the packaging field. No packaging format offers brands and consumers alike this high and sometimes complicated level of original thinking with brilliant results. And that all backed by one of the strongest arguments for sustainability. (For some older designs, see my article: “What’s New In Child Resistant Packaging”
Sustainability in Folding Cartons
In my previous article about bioplastics I already hinted at the recent study of Smithers Pira about the “The Importance of Sustainability in Packaging”. Whilst the report puts folding cartons in a very favourable light it is clear that not everyone has the same level of understanding as to what makes packaging sustainable. Recycling is rated to be more important than using renewable material but you can’t have truly sustainable packaging unless it comes from a renewable source. Clearly paper based packaging meets both criteria (renewable and recyclable) and is the best example of a packaging material that fulfils the requirements of a circular economy.
“Cartons really are an example of ‘cradle to cradle’ packaging. You can never say that about crude oil based packaging”, stated Tony Hitchin, Pro Carton General Manager. “If packaging specifiers are serious about wanting to have more sustainable packaging, then they need to start by using a sustainable material whenever possible. It would be good to think that paperboard will, therefore, always be brand owners’ first choice as a packaging medium”.
So, with both its credentials of creativity and sustainability secured, let’s have a look at what Interpack 2017 showed us.
Originally the Locked4Kids child-resistant folding carton from Netherlands-based EcoBliss was designed with the pharmaceutical industry in mind. Now it’s looking at other packaging options and laundry detergent packets and tablets came on the table.
Locked4Kids consists of a tear-resistant folding carton and a locking tray in which blisters with medicine or other products can be packaged. To access the product, the tray should be pulled out like a drawer. To secure child safety this only works if two hooks, which are sticking out of two push points on the top of the carton, are pressed simultaneously. These push points are located diagonally across each side of the carton. And that’s why children have difficulties opening the cartons. They simply don’t understand how it works. And if they do, they are not able to handle it physically because their hands are too small.
Locked4Kids is said to be the world’s first Child Resistant Carton certified against both the ISO/EN 8317 and US 16 CRF 1700.20 standard child-resistant and senior-use effectiveness packaging requirements and testing procedures, to meet F=1, the highest level of CR protection.
Locked4Kids child resistant cartons have been developed for high speed automated production on standard pharmaceutical packaging equipment supplied by companies such as Romaco, Uhlmann, Pentapack, etc. Blister strips are loaded top down into a tray, which is than inserted into the child resistant carton. With Locked4Kids cartons the same packaging speeds as with regular (non CR) cartons can be achieved.
Pharmaceutical packaging specialist Rondo AG, a company of the Medipak Systems Group, presented two innovative folding cartons.
Child-proof to the last tablet
Rondo presents an innovative type of child-proof packaging for solid products in a blister. With CAREP’AK, developed together with the French company A.C.D., products are reliably protected from access by children until the last tablet is removed.
The mechanism is inserted inside the folding box and must be operated in order to enable the products to be pressed individually out of the pack. To do this two hand movements must be carried out at the same time: using a button, the user pushes the mechanism to the side and holds it fast. The product can then be pushed out of the blister. Afterwards, the slider springs back to its initial position. These actions, which cannot be carried out by children, must be repeated, when each product is removed. Unlike regular child-proof systems, which often protect the box from children only before it is opened, the CAREP’AK is therefore safe until the last product has been removed. At the same time the system has been successfully tested for handling by senior patients.
F1 certification has been awarded by Perritt Laboratories, Inc. (USA).
Rondo has designed the packaging for the CAREP’AK so that blisters with different tablet sizes and tablet quantities can be integrated into the pack.
From 2018 onwards, the external packaging of medicines must be provided with tamper evidence – as required by directive 2011/62/EU. Rondo offers an effective solution.
With this solution Rondo has developed an intelligent and cost-saving folding box: The tamper evidence is integrated directly into the structure of the folding box. This means that additional materials such as glue or labels can be eliminated entirely.
During the closure process, punch-outs on the base and lid flaps are activated to clearly and irreversibly indicate opening. The consumer can thus see at first glance whether the package has already been opened. The pack is opened and closed just as simply and trouble-free as a conventional folded box.
An advantage is that the blanks can be processed without restrictions on existing packaging lines. The machinability of this solution has already been successfully tested on machines from various manufacturers.
The packaging complies with the EU Falsified Medicine Directive (in accordance with DIN EN 16679)
AR Packaging Group AB
I always found the AR Packaging Group (the old Åkerlund & Rausing) in Lund/Sweden one of the most innovative creators of packaging. Some fifty years ago when I put my first timid step into the packaging world, the design and courage of material choice of Åkerlund & Rausing fascinated me. (May I remind you that Tetra Pak is more or less a spin-off). And apparently they are still able to come up with some amazing folding carton designs. Here some examples.
Sileo child-proof packaging
The Sileo child-proof packaging developed for Orion Pharmaceuticals and produced by A&R Carton Oy made of one single material.
The packaging contains no plastic parts, neither inside nor outside and functionality, usability and sustainability are state-of-the-art. The internal engineering of the pack allows it only to be opened by depressing the highlighted (in yellow) areas and where the contents are safely secured.
This child-proof packaging is intended for dog owners. A dark blue background shows the contours of a dog’s head, alongside product information and instructions for use. The main requirement of the brand owner was for a closure mechanism which could be opened and closed at least ten times. For easier handling by adults, the touch areas for opening are highlighted in colour.
The structural core idea was to produce the carton in a single run on the machine as well as filling in a single run. The carton-board is manufactured by Stora Enso.
My. Von Erl e-cigarettes pack
After being briefed by the customer, the structural designers developed a more sustainable packaging using carton material only. A packaging that could easily replace the existing one using a foam insert and being produced in China.
The folding carton is elegant, but not too luxurious as the product is positioned as medium-priced. It surprises with a refined book style opening mechanism. The smart insert – an integrated extension system keeping several components in place – offers customers a smooth unpacking experience.
The packaging, made from Metsä Board, has an ultra-modern look including pockets for additional items such as liquid pod and a rechargeable battery. The graphic design is stylish and urban, it is directed at cultivated, modern people. The discrete and clear appearance gives no indication of the complexities of its interior. All is revealed when opening. The clear graphic design was enriched with embossing, hot foil and a semi-matt varnish. The noble and subtle design also affords a very pleasant tactile experience.
Without the use of any other material other than carton-board, the pack holds together and presents effectively all of the elements and extras needed for this e-cigarette product. The board engineering is truly impressive.
Folding cartons are magnificent examples of sustainability options in packaging.