Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Micro-cellular foaming technology offers light weighting opportunities for food packaging

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A European packaging manufacturer will be introducing microcellular foamed polypropylene barrier sheets for food packaging to the European market
In Use – Already available in the US, this range of barrier sheets will be commercially available in Europe in the second half of 2012.

Benefits
Packaging Reduction

Product Categories
Food, Home Improvement, Household & Personal Care

Relevant Materials
Plastic – rigid

Relevant Packaging Formats
Other

Supply Chain Phase
Production

Details

A European packaging company has signed an exclusive European license agreement to produce a foamed barrier sheets for food packaging using a unique, patented microcellular foaming technology developed in the US.

The microcellular Foam injection moulding process involves the controlled use of gas in its supercritical state to create a foamed part. The technology is targeted at precision and engineered plastic components with maximum wall thicknesses of less than 3mm. The process involves the highly controlled use of gas in its supercritical state (SCF) to created millions of micron-sized voids in thin wall moulded parts (less than 3mm).  The end result is a lighter weight product using less polymer.
The process generally offers a 50-75% improvement in key quality measures, such as flatness, roundness, and warpage, and also eliminating all sink marks. These improvements result from the fact that relatively uniform stress patterns are created in the moulded part rather than non-uniform stress characteristics of solid moulding.
As a direct result of the uniform stress and shrinkage associated with the process (which occurs because the pack and hold phase of the molding cycle is eliminated), the parts that are produced tend to comply far more closely with the mould shape and, subsequently, the dimensional specifications of the part itself. This means that when using the process fewer mould iterations are needed to produce a compliant part, saving time and cost.
The quality advantages of the process are complemented by certain economic advantages, including the ability to produce 20-33% more parts per hour on a given machine, and the ability to mould parts on lower tonnage machines as a result of the viscosity reduction and the elimination of the packing requirement that accompanies the use of supercritical gas.
The technology will be supplied in Europe by EDV Packaging who have signed an exclusive license agreement with Mucell Extrusion from the US. EDV will produce a range of foamed PP sheets with EVOH barriers for use in food packaging applications.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

The principal benefit of this technology is the ability to produce lighter weight injection moulded parts using less polymer. There are also other advantages during processing. For example, the substantially reduced injection pressure in comparison to conventional molding allows for thinner wall applications without increasing the clamp tonnage of the moulding machine.

Intellectual Property

The licensed microcellular foaming technology is the result of development work that includes more than 30 patents from Mucell Extrusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Dow Chemical Company.

Consultant View

There are many different approaches and technologies being developed for achieving light weighting of food packaging. Readers who find this entry interesting should search the REID database for other light weighting technologies. Try combinations of search terms and filters such as “Food”; “plastics – rigid” and “light weighting” or “packaging reduction”.

Contacts and Further Information

Xavi Franco, Marketing and Slaes Director
EDV Packaging Solutions, SA
Av. del Mogent, 82 | Zona industrial El Mogent
08450 Llinars del Vallès | Barcelona, Spain
Tel.: +34 938 427 000
Email: edvpackaging@edvpackaging.com
www.edvpackaging.com

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