Packaging OEM June 2024

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Finding the Right Formula

Flexible Food Packaging

A Supplement to Design World june 2024 page 46

Tounderstand the future of flexible food packaging, you first must understand the history. No one knows that better than Tom Dunn, a 40-year veteran of the packaging industry who has developed flexible packaging products, processes, and platforms. Now, the managing director of Flexpacknology, he consults with manufacturers, material suppliers, and machine builders on how to create a new economy for flexible food packaging and recycling. Here, Dunn discusses the need for both packaging OEMs and food manufacturers to take more responsibility in producing food-safe recycled materials.

DW: What is the current state of flexible food packaging?

Tom Dunn: It is unique having this disconnect with the products that the CPG/food companies make between consumables, packaging materials, and capital assets that fill packaging materials in some way shape or form. My background has been in designing the materials for the different kinds of products that will be packaged

on the packaging machinery. A lot of flexible packaging, particularly the bags that are vertically filled, are formed on the packaging machinery, filled on the packaging machine, and then sealed together. Others just take pre-fabricated pouches or bags and fill and seal those. So, there's a fill seal sequence in the equipment world that needs to be addressed in all formats. And that's sort of the guiding principle that I've always gone by in the design processes that I've been involved in.

Over the last couple of decades, there have been changes in the mechanical design of the packaging machinery that were pursued for machine optimization and maybe economics and versatility in the CPGs’ packaging rooms— but without regard to the materials supplier, the co-supplier partner.

Materials have to go through machines before they're filled with products. That's sort of the first gut check that goes into designing a product. And particularly when you mention sustainability and recyclability, all those are materials focused. But it's not going to be possible to just 46 DESIGN WORLD June 2024

packaging oem

address the material changes that are desired if they're not complementary machinery adjustments that are made to keep the two in synchrony and the packaging rooms running smoothly in the CPG companies.

DW: What do you mean by keeping the materials and the machines in synchrony?

Dunn: One big example of that is the efficacy in operations. At present, a lot of the flexible packaging materials worldwide are considering using a single material format rather than the three or four different types of plastic resins that might be used in a bag or pouch in flexible packaging. The easy way to optimize efficiency now is to specify a heat resistant plastic on the outside of the packaging material. Typically, this is oriented polyester film. That is then exposed to very high temperature heat seal surfaces from the outside. That heat energy then transfers through the packaging material to the inside surface of the package. There, the thermoplastic plastic layers weld together to form a seal.

The temperature of the sealing surfaces directly affects the speed with which the packages are filled and sealed and taken off to inventory or case packing and the distribution system. This is a standard constraint of fill/seal machines that current materials have been designed to accommodate. There are some machinery advances like ultrasonic sealing that had been tried but sort of dismissed as a solution in search of a problem, or an expensive change or adjustment to the existing machinery, or a buy constraint that the buyer market is not ready to pay for.

Alternate ways of fusing the inside of flexible materials to together are certainly called for. I think of ultrasonics as an ideal way to do that without having to just use hot surfaces to weld all that together. There were other heat delivery methods that have been tried and even patented in the flexible packaging space but have not been widely adapted or even really looked at in the OEM space. There’s sort of a gap between the material science on the materials side and the mechanical engineering discipline on the machinery side. So, you've had two professions talking about a common challenge in two different languages that don't really understand each other very well.

DW: What or who is ultimately driving the move to monomaterials and how does it change things?

Dunn: Well, justify capital investments involves many functions. These different functional priorities within a CPG company each have a dog in those capex races. Marketing departments want good-looking packages with label declaration about the company’s sustainability performance. The packaging experts want a versatile package that protects the product from the time it's packaged to the time it is consumed by the consumer The operations group wants to make those packages as quickly and as economically as possible. They don't want to be saddled with a lot of new capital depreciation for new equipment. So, you've got a lot of cooks in the CPG kitchen that are involved in a decision to buy machinery or start a retrofit project. All of this makes for a process that is slow at best and contentious at worse.

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Announcing a MTB Linear Actuator Series Line Extension

The MTB Series is a belt driven, profile rail linear actuator that has a number of sizes with some design configuration availability to meet high loads and stroke length.

MTBs are fully enclosed systems that perform at speeds up to 3000 mm per/second. With the addition of the MTB 105 linear actuator, the series now can move a static load of 7500 N and with a thrust capacity of 2750 N.

MTB 105


Packaging and Assembly Automation

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Static Load (Fz Fy)
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Moments (Mz My) MTB 42 1560 N 460 N 55 Nm MTB 55 1850 N 820 N 120 Nm MTB 80 MTB 105 4500 N 1650 N 450 Nm MAX Stroke Length 2000 mm 6000 mm 6000 mm MAX Static Load (Fz Fy) MAX Linear Thrust (Fx) MAX Moments (Mz My) 7500 N 2750 N 700 Nm MAX Stroke Length 6000 mm

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Some things, like saving money, take precedence over these little fiefdoms having their say in the buy decision. But now, there are new players at the decision table in the form of insistence on “sustainability” from the public, the not-for-profit groups, the supermarkets, and the other distributors. Those expectations need attention, and they need it fast. I'm personally trying to push for those mono-material structures for flexible packages in a way that starts them out as cleared compositions for food contact uses and keeps them suitably safe and cleared for food contact through the recycling process and going forward so that the next iteration of food packaging can use both recycled resin and virgin resin to accomplish the necessary packaging functionality. To do that you’ll need to get rid of the polyester that’s in just about every standup pouch and many other packages now. Instead, they’ll use some sort of oriented polyethylene or polypropylene, and then all layers can be recycled together into a new generation of their thermoplastic flexible food packaging.

DW: That sounds like a big endeavor. Are we there yet?

Dunn: Some initial components are in place. You’re familiar with store takeback collection bins for merchandise bags and the stretch wrap that palletizes products that are delivered from distribution centers to the retail outlets. All that plastic goes into those bins, but now instead of going back into a new generation of merchandise bags, most of that plastic is going back into composite lumber (substantially degraded in terms of its value).

The future I envision is the general concept of “extended producer responsibility.” It is being proposed as the way to go for those consumer product goods companies who leave

packaging garbage in households for somebody else to dispose. They need to step up and take responsibility for collecting those materials and recycling them for reuse in another generation of packaging.

And if they do it right, they can maintain ownership of that recycled plastic and use that to meet their “recycled plastic content” requirements in the next generation of packaging materials. So, you end up with sort of a steady state level of recycled plastic being used in a generation of consumer product goods plastic packaging. It’s just in the last 12 months that the world of beverage bottles has actually taken all polyester bottles and kept them suitably pure and cleared for reuse in food contact packaging. Thy reappear as a recycled polyester bottle in the next generation of those beverage distribution systems. So that part has been verified. By avoiding the problems associated with the status quo for curbside single-source blue-bin collection of recyclables — in which we find all manner of motor oil and laundry detergent, and whatever other chemical products are sold in plastic containers that can contaminate food grade plastics in that recycled stream — you don't have to worry about contamination of food grade status. You can just isolate it and keep it going forward into the next generation of packaging.

That plastic recycling process itself has some existing elements that allow a CPG/food company to step up and take responsibility for the garbage that it leaves in the American households and turn it into a new generation of plastic packaging. They don't have to worry about any market cost differential between virgin resin and recycle resin because part of this new system takes with it an expectation of using recycled resin in consumerpackaged goods. And if you can own that recycled resin because you put 50 DESIGN WORLD June 2024 800-461-4161 Additional Services Custom Die Cutting Roll Slitting Rewinding Automated Sheeting Adhesive Lamination Low Friction Polymers Heat Sealing Tapes Masking Tapes Release Fabrics Silicone Rubber Types of Products • PTFE made with Teflon® Fluoropolymers • Kapton® Polyimide • PEEK • Nylon® 6/6 • ULTEM® PEI • Mylar® • PVDF • UHMW

your effort into recycling it, recovering it, and keeping it clean and pure for return food contact use, you can basically control your own destiny and maybe pay for all that new collection and recovery processes that you now delegate to the garbage utility and local governments.

DW: If the CPG or food producer takes on the role of owning that recycled material, does it make sense to have a holistic approach to flexible packaging where the material supplier and the machine builder also play a part?

Dunn: Ideally, it does. And every CPG company that I can think of has these 2025 or 2030 targets for recycled material [across] their packaging uses. From package manufacturing to package emptying and garbage disposal, nobody's looking holistically to link the consumer’s empty package to a recycle system.

We sort of inherited a system of plastic recycling that was optimized for PET beverage containers and the big high-density polyethylene detergent bottles and maybe sort of a tag along with the high-density milk bottles that just get thrown in along with the detergent jugs.

Given the 30 years that they've been at this, and the fact that it's just now that we have a new Coca-Cola bottle made of [recycled] Coke bottles — shame on the plastics industry for not thinking holistically in terms of how to accomplish that and what constraints must be managed before they can in fact accomplish it. OEM

Door Mounted Motor Disconnect Switch

• Dual AC/DC rated; see below specifications

• Integrated door or side panel mounting

• Rear facing terminals for easy installation

• Loadsafe RT Series

• Switch make/break operation is semi- independent from operator’s actuation speed

• Silver contacts ensures safe and durable operation

• UL 60947-4-1


908-806-9490 (FAX)

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Scan the QR code to listen to the live webinar The Flexible Packaging Food Movement with Tom Dunn
35 Royal Road Flemington, NJ 08822
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scan the qr code to learn more 52 DESIGN WORLD June 2024

Heat Sealing Tapes Improve Packaging Efficiency

Engineered for high-performance and durability, our heat-sealing tapes ensure a seamless release, making them perfect for a wide range of packaging applications. Tapes include skived PTFE or PTFE coated substrates due to their release properties, extreme temperature resistance, and chemical resistance. Specialized materials include Rulon® bearing tape, a conformable self-lubricating substrate or TFL, a PTFE laminate, that has more durability and a longer cycle life compared to traditional coated PTFE materials. Different types of adhesive options are available to maximize adhesion or remove cleanly. Increase productivity and profitability by creating packaging efficiencies, such as longer production operating times, maintenance reduction and repair intervals, faster heat-sealing capability, platen protection, higher-quality seals, and lower operating costs.

KHK USA offers the broadest selection of stock metric gearing in North America. Designed for use in industrial automation applications, conveyor systems, packaging equipment, robotics, and general machinery applications, KHK’s selection of spur gears, helical gears, internal ring gears, gear racks, bevel gears, screw gears, worms & wormwheels, ratchets & pawls, gear couplings, right-angle gearboxes, and gear lubrication systems are available in various materials and sizes. KHK’s website offers free 3D CAD models for all gear products, complete product specifications, and 24/7 shopping. With KHK USA, stock gears are delivered from stock, with no minimum order or credit card surcharges.

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53 DESIGN WORLD June 2024
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CS Hyde Company
N. Illinois 83
Villa, IL

PBC Linear Expanded MTB Series

Advanced Belt-Driven Linear Actuators for High Speed and Long Travel Applications

Discover the next level of linear motion with our newly expanded MTB Actuator Series, offering unparalleled performance and versatility across a range of applications. Engineered with precision and innovation, this series now includes four sizes – MTB 42, MTB 55, MTB 80, and the newly introduced MTB 105 - catering to diverse system requirements with precision and efficiency. The new MTB 105 size offers an increased linear thrust force and a higher payload capacity to our existing line of belt driven linear actuators. Each belt driven linear actuator features a fully enclosed structure with a stainless steel magnetically coupled band strip seal, ensuring reliable operation even during carriage movement in contaminate-prone environments. With high acceleration, speed, and rigidity, coupled with travel lengths of up to 6 meters, the MTB Series delivers exceptional functionality. Its low friction, reduced noise, and vibration attributes enhance operational smoothness, while the anodized aluminum construction ensures corrosion resistance and longevity.

Equipped with a urethane multistranded steel corded reinforced belt, adjustable tension, and T-slots for easy mounting and sensor installation, these actuators offer unmatched flexibility and integration ease. With various input drive interface options available, the MTB Actuator Series stands as the epitome of excellence in belt driven linear actuators, now expanded to meet the demands of every application with precision, reliability, and performance. The MTB high speed linear actuators specifically thrive in applications such as lab automation, packaging, assembly pick-n-place and Cartesian multi-axis gantry systems.

Key Features Across Every MTB Series Linear Actuator

• Built to Handle Heavy LoadsThe MTB 55, MTB 80 and MTB 105 linear actuators include urethane multi-stranded steel corded reinforced belts. The steel reinforced belts allow our new and largest MTB 105 linear actuator to reach a linear thrust capacity of 2,750 N and a horizontal payload

of 7,500 N over a maximum stroke length of 6 meters.

• Ideal for High Speeds and Accelerations- Size does not affect the speed capabilities of the MTB linear actuator series. All four high speed linear actuators can reach a top speed of 3 m/s. A maximum acceleration and deceleration force of 3G is also achievable.

Explore the possibilities with our Expanded MTB Series and elevate your linear motion systems to new heights of excellence. OEM april/mtb-linear-actuatorseries-line-addition 54 DESIGN WORLD June 2024
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Scan the QR code for more information on the MTB linear actuator series line addition

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