Hosted by the packaging and processing group PMMI, its president Charles Yuska noted related technologies that offer ideas for packagers as well as aspects that can apply to any product or manufacturing situation including:
- • Track & trace solutions
- • Quality & anti-counterfeiting
- • Speed & delivery efficiency
- • Filling & handling
“The overwhelming success of Pack Expo Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging Expo, coming on the heels of our success at Pack Expo East, ProFood Tech and Expo Pack Guadalajara confirmed our belief that our industry views the Pack Expo brand as must-attend events,” says Jim Pittas, COO, PMMI. “Our exhibitors and attendees expect Pack Expo to carry out first-class events, and this show was no exception.”
Up nearly 4% in size from Pack Expo Las Vegas 2015, the larger crowds continue to be high-level attendees with decision-making power. A highlight of the event was Pack Gives Back, sponsored by Rockwell Automation, offering another milestone as it produced the largest crowd to date in the event’s seven-year history. Not only was the standing room only crowd entertained by the legendary rock and roll band, The Doobie Brothers, but proceeds from the performance, combined with industry donations and PMMI’s $100,000 match, pushed Pack Expo’s hurricane aid donation past $325,000.
“The generosity of Pack Expo attendees and exhibitors was truly inspirational,” says Chuck Yuska, at the conclusion of his last Pack Expo after more than a quarter century as president and CEO of PMMI. “Ours is an industry that has consistently risen to the occasion to help others in times of need.”
Nonwovens’ Role in Packaging
Members of the nonwovens industry had to seek out specific nonwovens applications at likely booths, and often there was one expert in the booth who was knowledgeable. For example, in the many equipment supplier exhibits, one specialized production line packages products incorporating nonwovens.
Campbell Wrapper’s specialized Revolution line incorporates a horizontal flow wrapper and feeding equipment for the medical, personal care, household product and other industries. Certain products run at speeds up to 600 products per minute. Features include sanitary design for easy cleanup, fault display and ability to integrate with other upstream or downstream equipment. The line handles films, polycoated papers and various laminates.
Products incorporating nonwovens also meet needs for niche products and markets. Bemis Healthcare Packaging is the leading manufacturer of heat-sealed-coated products that include nonwovens for medical device packaging. The spunbond nonwoven provides a puncture resistant, breathable, microbial barrier, while the applied coating provides many benefits that include package peel-ability and seal confirmation upon opening.
VitaFlex’s Soft-Stretch Hairnet exhibit demonstrated innovative product design made from newly developed latex-free elastic nonwoven fabrics. Dr. De-Sheng Tsai, president, explained his background in the nonwovens and medical products industry and said, “I continue to develop elastic nonwoven fabrics and create new hair coverings for contamination control and primary head protection in industrial safety and infection prevention. The latex-free elastic nonwoven technologies and the materials have been globally co-patented with DuPont. The precursor nonwovens are sourced from the most advanced lines in the southeastern states. The conversion and manufacturing processes are done in Burlington, NC. The new hairnet addresses the issue of contamination control since the VitaFlex hairnet: provides secured and maximum coverage for the wearer’s head, face and neck; no manual sewing or opportunity for contamination in production and testing shows effective blockage of fine particles and mist.
Printing is closely integrated with the packaging world. Yet, many package printers at Pack Expo acknowledge that printing nonwovens requires specific expertise focused on flexographic and digital systems. Bell-Mark demonstrations of in-line printing on Tyvek exhibit fast changeovers, short run niches, with attention to product ID, barcode, tracking and serial numbers. The Bell-Mark InteliJet HD offers high definition full-color utilizing “the world’s fastest and highest resolution ink jet print head technology.”
Supporting the aim of superior package identity and integrity, many Pack Expo companies address these areas. PTIusa touts its non-destructive package quality testing for pouches, flexible packaging and porous products. Some of PTI testing includes scans for leaks, pinholes and seal imperfections. The company’s Seal-Sensor, is an airborne ultrasonic technology that inspects pouch seals online for defects.
Sustainability continues to be a focus and a challenge for packagers. When nonwovens are part of a multi-structure material, recycling, reuse and recovery are complicated. Pre-consumer waste streams mean materials are less contaminated and complex. Post-consumer products pose more challenges. According to BNP Media’s Flexible Packaging Special Report handed out at Pack Expo: Multi-material flexible packaging is material-efficient, lightweight and low impact, but its inability to be effectively recycled or otherwise recovered in an environmentally beneficial manner is its Achilles’ heel, according to Adam Gendell of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition which is studying solutions.
With packaging being the first impact on consumers and through product opening, closing and disposal--the industry’s continued growth is depending on getting the moving feast of details right.