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Plastic Packaging Technologies: 6 New Trends Pushing the Boundaries of Plastics

Today’s world of packaging is more complex than ever before. Brand owners with multiple objectives and goals are presented with seemingly endless options when it comes to packaging their products. Packaging is no longer just about delivering the product to the end user – today, packaging is a driving force behind usability, environmental friendliness, and product differentiation.

A common mistake of brand managers and product developers is not proactively thinking about materials and technologies to bring form and function together. Below are the emerging technologies scientists and plastics packaging experts are applying to manufacturing processes. Bringing to life beautiful consumer experiences with elegant brand design. Here are some of the emerging packaging technologies that are helping products disrupt their market in innovative ways.

Aura™ Infusion Technology

Aura™ Infusion Technology is a game changing methodology. The technology is an aqueous-based process, which infuses organic additives into plastic materials. There are a variety of options when it comes to colors that can be infused – we can produce gradients and even use multiple colors depending on the applications.

This infusion process is not just a coating, rather this process allows colors, barriers, UV blockers, and microbial agents to be infused into plastic materials. For markets requiring on demand color, this process can provide quick changes and negates the need for traditional color change setups. There are a wide variety of colors that can be infused and we can produce a gradient

After organic additives are deposited and after it has been immersed, there is no need for additional curing. VOC’s-AURA™ is environmentally friendly technology; solvents are reclaimed and reused, and there is no generation of hazardous materials.

Most rigid packaging can use this type of technology and it also works with a variety of PET resins. However, as it stands today, it cannot be used for Polyolefin resins. It would require a development effort to use other materials such as PLA and BOPP as well.

BrightPak® Technology

BrightPak® Technology is a liquid containment system that creates a next generation dispensing approach for chemicals, adhesives, pharma, food, and beverage. The objective was to create a value-added alternative to large glass bottles and other traditional systems that store and dispense photolithography chemicals. The system has two primary components that are created from two separate preforms: PET and PEN.

The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) preform is used to blow mold a bottle with a capacity of 4.6 liters, while the polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) is used to create rigid, three-dimensional, collapsible interior “liners,” which hold the chemicals.

Primary objectives for the interior rigid liner were that it must collapse at low pressure without tearing, be compatible with various chemicals, and dispense 99% of the product. The bottle around it had to withstand six times the dispensing pressure to provide an additional safety cushion. Additionally, the inner PEN and outer PET (with amber colorant) needed to withstand rigid shipping and storage conditions and also block out 99.9% of light.

The two-piece assembly fits into a third blow-molded, full body PET “base cup.” The structural panels of the PET bottle made labeling challenging, but the textured full-body cup allows for various branding opportunities, as well as providing a stable base for the bottle’s slightly rounded bottom.

The BrightPak® package dispenses liquids using direct or indirect pressure or pump systems and is specifically designed to eliminate the sources of bubble formation and particle defects caused by pump and vacuum delivery containers. Additionally, drive gas can be applied between the rigid liner and the bottle, which causes pressure to squeeze the rigid liner resulting in collapse, which forces the chemical out of the bottle. The system then dispenses the chemical through a sealed pathway from the liner to the dispense tool while protecting the chemicals from external contamination. Eventually, the rigid liner fully collapses and ensures optimal dispense results.

In addition, the BrightPak® technology offers multiple benefits, including approximately 21% of additional volume compared to typical one-gallon glass bottles. The higher volume is possible without impacting labeling surface, handle location, or the physical dimension of storage and usage instructions. It also provides exceptional chemical protection from environmental factors such as accidents or operator errors. Unlike glass, this system is made from shatter-resistant plastic resins that minimize the chance of costly chemical spills and product shutdowns.

Clasper™ Blow Molded Bottle Technology

This snap fit technology provides a unique packaging solution for boundary-pushing food, beverage, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, industrial, and household chemical products. The Clasper™ blow molded PET bottle is available to brand managers who want to market a boundary-pushing product in a package that requires two separate containers.

The Clasper double-bottle concept provides a solution for products that cannot be premixed or must be consumed in sequence, which opens the door for new product categories and creative product development. Not only does this open the doors for brand owners, it also gives consumers a unique usage experience, which is sure to delight.

Some features include:

  • A bottom container that can snap into the base of a larger top bottle
  • The ability to blow mold in various sizes
  • Can accommodate liquids or powders
  • Hot-fill option
  • Heat or induction seal for bottom containers with traditional closure for the top bottle
  • Shrink sleeves can be used to promote branding and provide usage instructions

Markets/products include:

  • Beverage
  • Food
  • Personal care
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical

Deep Grip™ Bottles

Deep Grip™ is a break-through process that uses injection stretch blow molding (ISBM) to create a new type of container handle. Deep Grip technology enables significant grip depth with an extremely thin grip “web” thickness. The grip is deep enough for the average hand to completely close around without finger touching the container wall, providing comfort and handling ability similar to that experienced with a traditional handle.

Deep Grip development is one of the first commercially-viable handle processes that harnesses the advantages of ISBM and is ideally suited for commercialization where clarity is desired. Compared to traditional extrusion blow molding, ISBM enables lightweighting, higher output per cavity, mechanical benefits, and smaller equipment footprint.

Bottles taking advantage of the Deep Grip technology are made in a two step process. The first step is conventional stretch blow molding, which is then followed by a proprietary secondary operation within the same machine that forms the handle. This process is applicable to a broad range of ISBM bottle polymers, including polyethylene terephthalate, high density polyethylene, biaxially-oriented polypropylene, polylactic acid, among others.

Because the container and handle are made from the same material, it eliminates downstream recycling issues and contributes to lightweighting objectives. Lightweighting is possible because the grip geometry also provides structural benefits, which enable a reduction in bottle gram weight.

Target markets for this technology include detergents, household cleaners, non-carbonated beverages, milk, edible oil, motor oil, baby bottles, and other segments where handles are common. It is an ideal option for brand owners looking to drive weight and cost out of containers, improve its environmental profile, and facilitate product differentiation.

Foam Bottle Technology

PTI also has access to new processes for blow molding lightweight, foamed PET containers. These emerging PET bottle making technologies offer new visual and tactile ways to market products in a wide variety of categories.

Foam Bottle technology helps brand owners creatively position their products in a wide variety of categories since these containers produce dramatic visual appearances for multiple applications. Some applications include the following:

  • Personal care
  • Food
  • Beverages (CSD and non-CSD)
  • Beer
  • Wine and spirits

This shelf appeal and product differentiation coupled with reduced weight can be achieved without performance loss. In addition to PET, the foam bottle technology is applicable to other resins like polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene naphthalate (PEN).

Smiler™ Dual-Compartment Containers

Smiler™ is the first of its kind, two-compartment polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container, which was developed to address portion-size control for on-the-go snacking. The technology enables bottles and containers to be injection blow molded into different shapes and sizes. Typically, the larger, top compartment holds a liquid while the bottom holds a snack item.

Research showed that less than 20% of Americans use vending machines regularly because they don’t like the extra cost and calories that are typically associated with full-size vended products. Thus, brand owners can now take advantage of this technology and seize the opportunity to market a single-serving of two compatible products – think milk and cookies – within one portable container. Early reactions to the container are what gave it its name.  

Applications for the Smiler™ concept include vended snack and drink combos, after the game treats for youth sports, drink mixes, fundraising packages, and other promotional products. It can also be used for games, hardware items, and even humanitarian causes.

For instance, a two week supply of water purification tablets can be inserted in the bottom cavity. Containers can be air dropped into disaster areas when roads are impassable and it’s impossible to land aircraft. The top cavity can be used to collect locally available water, while one of the purification tablets at the bottom can create first-response, drinkable water.

All in all, brand owners have a variety of options when it comes to reaching packaging goals. From lightweighting to increasing usability to disrupting the market with innovative packaging, PTI is ready to tackle the challenge with innovative technologies to help achieve and exceed your objectives and goals. The real question is, how are you going to get there and what are the technologies behind the package that you need to utilize? Learn more about PTI’s capabilities by contacting (insert number here).