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November 1, 1999

8 Min Read
Market Focus:  Packaging


Phoenix Closures likes the outlook for its products. The food and beverage market is slowly shifting from metal to injection molded closures.

Likemost markets served by injection molders, packaging has its ownreplacement opportunities that are expected to drive this industryinto the next century.

One particularly bright spot on the packaging landscape iscaps and closures. Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests thatthis segment will enjoy healthy growth, mostly at the expenseof the growth of metals and other traditionally used materials.

Jeff Davis, director of sales administration and marketingat injection molder Phoenix Closures Inc. (Naperville, IL), saysbusiness is good thanks to a conversion away from metal caps."The latest change is a conversion from standard closuresto dispensing closures," he says. "That's a big trend."

Glass, too, has become a target and follows this change. "There'salso a trend out of glass and into plastic containers," Davisreports. "Closures follow this trend. They mirror each other."

Driving these migrations is the need to differentiate products.Dispensing closures, says Davis, require sophisticated tooling,but provide a good method to make a product more attractive toconsumers.

The growth of plastics use in packaging in general, and capsand closures in particular, is also reflected in the data. Accordingto a recent report from The Freedonia Group, plastic closureswill remain the largest and fastest growing segment of the industry.


These data are courtesy of The Freedonia Group and show growth of more than 4 percent annually for plastics in this market through 2003, with strong growth opportunities in the beverage segment. Total packaging shipments are expected to grow more than 4 percent annually in the decade between 1998 and 2008.

This is spurred, says the report, by the ongoing transition from closurelesscontainers like aluminum beverage cans, to more closure-intensiveplastic packaging. In fact, the beverage segment presents thegreatest opportunity for cap and
closure growth (see table).

Davis says Phoenix also sees significant growth in single-servemilk containers that have plastic resealable closures, and hot-filledcontainers (traditionally glass or metal) that hold sauces, pickles,jams, and soups. "The market for plastic closures looks great,"he says.

Clarityfor ice cream at lower cost


Anew ice cream container touts an entirely transparent packageand lid for enhanced shelf appeal. While paperboard containersmay offer only a small window on the lid to show off the contents,and other plastic containers are either not clear (PE) or areexpensive (PET), this PP container provides consumers a full viewof the cold treat. It is manufactured by Pibergroup, based inVoghera, Italy, using Millad 3988 clarified polypropylene fromMilliken Chemical. This grade reportedly offers the clear packagingthat Pibergroup required, and does so at half the cost of PET.It reduces costs because the density of the material is lower,and thus less of the material is needed.

Pibergroup uses a thin-wall process because the technique makesinjection molding of a reinforced container possible while maintainingtub dimensions. It also produces lighter containers, which reducesshipping costs. Millad clarified polypropylene aids in the processbecause its nucleation effect contributes to faster processing.It also can be processed at temperatures above 260C (500F) withoutplateout or taste and odor transfer problems. Pibergroup alsohandles packaging and printing of the containers.

For more information:
Milliken Chemical
Spartanburg, SC
Phone: (864) 503-2200
Fax: (864) 503-2430

PCprovides DVD security


Securityof the new, more expensive DVD format at the retail level is abig concern to sellers. To address that concern, Emplast Inc.(Chanhassen, MN) developed a new DVD security case. Unlike CDsand cassettes, which often contain a magnetic chicklet on theirouter wrapping that signals an alarm when passing through a detector,the chicklet is placed inside the case. Once the case is shut,it locks closed and must be opened with a special Emplast keyat the checkout counter. The key is compatible with all Emplastsecurity products.

Emplast molds the cases with a high-impact, clear Makrolonpolycarbonate grade from Bayer. The cases have .060- to .065-inchwall thicknesses, making them difficult to break.

Emplast molds all of its security cases at its plant in Waconia,MN. They are molded on one of the company's largest presses usingmultiple cavitation.

For more information:
Bayer Corp., Polymers Div., Pittsburgh, PA
Phone: (800) 622-6004; Fax: (412) 777-5585
Web: www.bayer.com/polymers-usa


PPstrengthens collapsible crates


Collapsibleplastic crates from Rehrig Pacific Co. fold inward for compactshipping and storage when empty. They are rigid enough to handlethe weight of other loaded containers stacked on top, yet arealso easy to assemble and collapse thanks to Pinch-and-Pull quick-releaselatches. The crates feature ventilated bottoms and side wallsfor cooling efficiency and to enhance shelf life for perishableproducts. According to Rehrig Pacific, it uses polypropylene fromExxon Chemical Co. and Solvay Engineered Polymers to mold thecrates. The resins are similar to each other and are used interchangeably.Located in Los Angeles, Rehrig molds the four different-sizedcrates on machines ranging from 750 to 1100 tons. Krauss-Maffei,Cincinnati Milacron, Husky, and Van Dorn presses are used.

For more information:
Solvay Engineered Polymers
Auburn Hills, MI
Phone: (248) 391-9500   
Fax: (248) 391-9530   

Exxon Chemical Co.
Houston, TX


Copolyesterused for protective cases


Whena manufacturer of laser system components approached ADE Inc.for a packaging solution to protect small, delicate parts duringshipping and storage, the Chicago-based company developed thisclamshell-type case. Called the Crystalair Compression Pack, itconsists of a tough, impact-resistant outer casing and a filmof polyurethane. The polyurethane is sealed to a frame that snapfitsinto the clamshell to suspend the contents of the package. Whena part is placed inside and the case is closed, the polyurethanemolds itself around the part to secure it. The case can be usedrepeatedly to package various delicate parts.

The outer shell is molded from Eastman Chemical Co.'s EastarPCTG copolyester, which, according to ADE, is so tough it canbe dropped and stepped on without breaking. The material alsoprovides high clarity so the that case's contents can be viewedand inspected without opening the container. The package can besterilized with gamma radiation for use in medical applications,and is resistant to various medical chemicals and solutions likealcohols and lipids.

Injection molder Ferdon Plastics Inc. (South Beloit, IL) makesthe top and bottom copolyester parts in a family mold on a 220-tonCincinnati Milacron press. The company also molds a polypropylenelatch that holds the top and bottom together. ADE performs theassembly and applies the polyurethane film.

For more information:
Eastman Chemical Co.
Kingsport, TN
Phone: (423) 229-1424
Fax: (423) 229-8595
Web: www.eastman.com


Liquidvalve dispenser benefits
from LSR compound


Michigan-basedLiquid Molding Systems (LMS) molds this dispensing valve, whichis used on anything from shampoo bottles to sports beverage containers.Other uses are in the works, as the valve can be designed to deliverspecific portions or a continuous liquid flow, as long as pressureis applied. Different valve designs operate at different hand-squeezingpressures, ranging from .1 psi to more than 100 psi. The designis also an integral part of inverted or stand-up packages thatreportedly promote more complete dispensing than do conventionalclosures. Dispensing valves are manufactured in diameters rangingfrom .375 to 1.430 inches, though larger or smaller sizes canbe produced.

They are manufactured with a proprietary slitting technology,which, according to LMS, can deliver close tolerance parts tocontrol valve performance accurately. The parts are molded onBoy and Engel machines ranging from 25 to 90 tons, which LMS custommodifies to suit its own processing techniques. With this modifiedequipment, LMS reports it can typically achieve 25 to 40 percentfaster molding cycles than when using a traditional liquid injectionmolding setup.

A key to the process is Dow Corning's liquid silicone rubbercompound, which is used to mold the parts. According to LMS, thecompound offers close tolerances and repeatable molding cycles,which have helped to optimize processing efficiency and minimizescrap. It also reportedly delivers high tear strength and a narrowdurometer range for good consistency in the valves.

For more information:
Dow Corning Corp.
Midland, MI
Phone: (800) 662-0661
Fax: (517) 496-4586

Surlynionomer spiffs up closure


Bio-Défenseskin care products feature glass-looking, jewel-like closuresto provide an elegant look. Jointly developed by CoréanaCosmetic Co. Ltd. (Seoul, Korea) and French design firm Brijatoff& Brijatoff, the products' packaging features two pieces-anoblong overcap of clear Surlyn ionomer from DuPont and a goldmetallized polypropylene undercap. Together the two parts makea closure that screws onto glass bottles and jars. The clarityand gloss of Surlyn give the overcap the look of crystal to matchthe glass jar and maximize the effect of the gold finish on theundercap.

According to DuPont, because of the cap'sthick walls and wide variations of wall thickness within the part,the oblong shape would have been difficult to mold with otherclear plastics such as acrylic. Surlyn reportedly eliminates sinkmarks, weldlines, bubbles, and other defects that are often encounteredwhen molding transparent materials. Yeosong Industrial Co. Ltd.,of Chungnam, Korea, molds the Surlyn cap.

For more information:
DuPont Industrial Polymers, Wilmington, DE
Phone: (800) 438-7225; Fax: (302) 992-3495



PP,PS aid in redesign


Packaging with style is important in the hair care industry, and California-based JoicoLaboratories now offers its products in sleeker, more contouredcontainers. Jars, like the double-walled products shown here,feature an outer shell that fits over an inner jar to give thepackage a distinctive, upscale look. The inner wall of the jaris made from a polypropylene supplied by Solvay Engineered Polymers,while the outer shell is made from a polystyrene supplied by NovaChemicals Corp. The dome-shaped closures are also molded in Solvay'spolypropylene. CCL Plastic Packaging molds the jars in 12- and16-cavity molds on 300-ton JSW machines at its plant in Middlesex,NJ.

For more information:
Solvay Engineered
Auburn Hills, MI
Phone: (248) 391-9500
Fax: (248) 391-9530
Web: www.solvay.com

Nova Chemicals Corp.
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 750-3600
Fax: (403) 269-7410
Web: www.novachemicals.com

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