Whether you are processing on a thermoforming machine or a Form Fill Seal line, controlling both gauge and layer thickness for multi-layer coextruded barrier rollstock structures is critical to ensuring that your packaging is cost effective, meets the designed performance objectives and is as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Controlling the overall gauge, or thickness, of a rollstock structure is a thermoformer's first line of defense in maintaining cost effectiveness, as gauge control directly correlates to maximizing the amount of thermoformed parts yielded from a given amount of rollstock purchased. Effective gauge control also ensures that the processor can precisely produce the package as intended, with an efficient process, minimal waste and confidence in the quality of their product. But, when working with multi-layer coextruded rollstock structures, maintaining tight control and verification of the thickness of the individual layers within a multi-layer rollstock structure is also very important in order to avoid excess use of expensive barrier layers and control cost while also ensuring specifications.
Designing packaging to effectively protect shelf stable foods is a challenging task as protection, spoilage, distribution, efficacy and so many other factors must be carefully considered. Those challenges are made exponentially more difficult if a processor cannot rely on their rollstock partner to effectively control layering and deliver the right amount of performance. Understandably, if the best rollstock performance isn't always delivered, designers may feel the need to over-engineer rollstock structures, using more plastic and more of expensive barrier materials than what is required to achieve shelf-life specifications. Over-engineering and adding more complexity has the potential to increase the burden on operations when processing barrier packaging materials, resulting in production efficiency erosion, excess scrutiny from the quality department, or shortfalls in product protection. However, when it comes down to it, who can blame designers from hedging on rollstock specifications if the alternative means customer dissatisfaction or poor shelf-life performance?
Additionally, industry-wide concerns regarding the sustainability of plastic food packaging solutions remains at the forefront. While designing rollstock for manufacturability is important, it has become increasingly important to processors and end-use consumers to ensure that packaging is designed for sustainability & recyclability. For multi-layer barrier structures, in order to be deemed recyclable, industry guidelines mandate rollstock structures have less than 10% EVOH content. Additionally, the practice of adding excess plastic materials is in conflict with industry-wide initiatives to reduce carbon footprint by minimizing the amount of plastic used in packaging solutions through down-gauging and lightweighting initiatives.
Working with a rollstock supplier with the capability to precisely control that barrier layer will ensure your packaging is recyclable and meets guidelines for re-use while optimizing material usage to compliment material reduction goals.
ICPG’s proprietary visionX system has been implemented to control not only the overall gauge of the rollstock structure, but monitors the individual-layer-thickness of the material as it is being produced to precisely control specifications. With real-time data analysis driven by electromagnetic wavelength technology, visionX delivers a level of accuracy unattainable with conventional capabilities and technologies:
Interested in learning more about how materials and capabilities like the visionX system can simultaneously improve the sustainability, quality, and performance of your multi-layer barrier food packaging materials?
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