AIMCAL Winners Pulsate with Panache

For the 2003 edition of the Vacuum Metallized or Coated Product Competition of the Fort Mill, SC-based Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators, judges voted — no doubt — according to their hearts. This year's Peter Rigney Product of the Year Award (named in honor of the former Paper Film & Foil Converter publisher) goes to a glamorous heart-shaped, set-up perfume box that pulsates with panache. Another six entries garnered technical and marketing awards at the AIMCAL banquet on March 13 during its winter management meeting at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, AZ.

Hearthrob of the Competition
Converter Unifoil, Passaic Park, NJ, impressed the judges enough to earn the Peter Rigney Product of the Year Award for its holographic heart rendition of Elizabeth Arden's (Miami Lakes, FL) Forever Elizabeth fragrance box. Hub Folding Box, Mansfield, MA, served as codesigner as well as boxmaker and contract packager. CFC International Chicago, IL, metallizes the polyester (PET) for the five-component box while Unifoil adds a custom-designed, shimless, 45-deg diagonal double-rainbow holographic pattern. Unifoil then laminates the film to International Paper's (Pittsburgh, PA) 24-pt solid bleached sulfate to form the top and base and to 12-pt board for the top and bottom rims. The rims are folded over to achieve a 24-pt thickness and provide a seamless rim with a duplex effect. To maintain maximum strength and ensure smooth and crack-free folds, special attention was given to paper grain direction.

The holographic pattern wraps around the entire box to eliminate white core edges when the box is open. A third, gold-colored 0.5-mil PET substrate, also metallized by CFC and converted by Unifoil, covers the inside top and bottom to hide glue rim seams and serve as a background for the transparent polyvinyl chloride tray holding the product. Judges felt the interior gold, mirror-like appearance adds another level of elegance to enhance the package's quality image. Noting how difficult it is to achieve wrinkle-free folds, judges determined this package deserved special recognition. From technical and marketing perspectives it was a real “heartthrob.”

Fish Ships in Style
In the Food Category, PROMA Technologies, Franklin, MA, was honored with the Marketing Award for a holographic corrugated box for Honolulu Fish Co., Honolulu, HI. Serving to provide both visual glitz and functionality, this sparkling box reflects sunlight while it keeps the temperature-sensitive contents cooler than a standard printed box, providing extra protection for the fresh fish delivered daily worldwide to restaurants and other customers. The shipping container comprises a 70# liner, coated one side, HoloPRISM metallized paper supplied by PROMA to Weyerhaeuser Corp., Honolulu, which employs an Asitrade laminator and provides contract packaging. The ITW Holographics' (Chalfont, PA) image design incorporates the company name, logo, and contact information into the HoloPRISM master, so the package does not require additional print graphics or processing. Judges noted this is the first time they've seen metallizing on corrugated for a fresh product.

For That Buttery Texture
Also in the Food Category, Super Film Ambalaj Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S., Baspinar, Turkey, won a technical award for a metallized laminate wrap (designed by Paksoy Ticaret Ve Sanaji A.S., Yuregir, Turkey) for its NEBA margarine. The substrate, supplied and metallized by Super Film, is converted by Asas Ambalaj Sanayi Ve Ticaret S.A., Yenikent, Turkey. Critical deadfold properties result from the combination of Supmet 1132 MD cavitated, opaque biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film and a proprietary vacuum metallizing process. In comparison, the metallized BOPP offers a 4% yield improvement over traditional parchment paper and provides much higher oxygen barrier (344 ml/m2/day at atmospheric pressure versus 30,000 ml/m2/day at atmospheric pressure for parchment), allowing the product to more than double shelf life from four to nine months. Also, the oil barrier of the metallized BOPP is improved considerably, along with shelf impact and product protection. Other improvements metallized BOPP offers include better machinability (running about 10 packs/min faster than parchment) and increased sales by 10%, which is credited to the eye-catching, luminous wrapper attracting consumers' attention.

Flashy Graphic Appeal
PROMA Technologies stepped up to the podium a second time to accept the marketing award in the Nonfood Category for supplying and metallizing an 80# Holo PRISM paper that comprises Inova Microlight blister packs. Designed by Emissive Energy Corp., Warwick, RI, complementary graphics coordinate with varying product colors to accentuate the product's lighting capacity, encourage impulse purchases, and differentiate the tiny, high-tech flashlight from its mundane competition. Acting as converter and contract packager, Challenge Printing, Eden Prairie, MN, prints the HoloPRISM in four process colors plus an opaque white ink on a 40-in. sheetfed Heidelberg CD press with interstation ultraviolet curing. Judges considered the graphics well thought out and the package innovative within its category.

Extraterrestrial Allure
The re-release of the movie, E.T. by Universal Pictures, Universal City, CA, provided the occasion for Hazen Paper Co., Holyoke, MA, and Unifoil, once again, to win a technical award in the Nonfood Category for a Collector's Edition DVD case. Both AIMCAL members converted the acrylic-coated, 1-mil metallized PET (provided by both Adherent Technologies, Albuquerque, NM, and Ultra Vac, East Hartford, CT) laminated to 80# coated-one-side litho paper from MeadWestvaco, Philadelphia, PA. Designer AGI Media, Melrose Park, IL, was also the contract packager. The transparent blue-printed metallized film/paper laminate conveys an extraterrestrial appearance that delivers shelf appeal. The judges noted how the metallized PET further strengthens the durability of the collector's edition package, protecting the box scores from cracking and wearing with use.

Film Layers Defy Dirt
Bekaert Specialty Films, San Diego, CA wins a technical award in the Industrial Category for SpeedStack7, a laminate, multi-use, tear-off visor system from Racing Optics, San Clemente, CA. Comprising a laminated stack of 2-mil optical-grade Mylar from DuPont Co., Wilmington, DE, to 0.1-mil adhesive film, the visor “cover” is stacked in seven layers. Visor wearers simply peel off a dirty or scratched layer as needed to reveal a clean layer beneath to prevent loss of visibility while performing such diverse activities as dirt track racing, surgery, dental procedures, shot basting, industrial cleaning, or painting. The optical adhesive creates a laminate that displaces air and attendant reflections so visibility does not diminish as layers are stacked while eliminating wrinkling and adhesive transfer as layers are removed. A printed logo identifies the products and orients the visor tear-off system in tinted variations called SmokeStack7 and AmberStack7. Judges observed, “Maintaining film and adhesive characteristics to preserve optical characteristics is pretty incredible.”

Safety and Functionality Are First
Reaping a technical award in the Other Category was FLEXcon Co., Spencer, MA, for its part in producing Model 992.01 WatchPAD from Care Trac, Columbus, OH. An early warning system that protects wheelchair-bound people from falls, the product consists essentially of a large capacitor that senses the weight of a seated patient and alerts the caregiver if it fluctuates when the person tries to stand or moves off balance. Inside the sealed vinyl pillow-like covering, the seat comprises 2-mil metallized silver PET/low-density polyethylene (LDPE) coating/2-in. foam/LDPE coating/2-mil metallized silver PET. This FLEXcon-developed, heavily metallized construction is both conductive and more durable than the aluminum sheet/PET it replaces. Polyester from DuPont Teijin Films, Hopewell, VA, is metallized by Rol-Vac, Dayville, CT. ER Extended Resources, Columbus, OH, assembles the pads. Judges concluded this product seemed “a huge advancement over what was available previously, which was prone to false alerts or complete failure.”

Technology Sets Industry ‘Firsts’
Technology of the Year
This year's winner of the AIMCAL Technology of the Year competition was Galileo Vacuum Systems, East Granby, CT, for its patent-pending CMS Dual-Mode Deposition Monitor. The noncontact, multipoint deposition monitoring system is used on roll-to-roll web vacuum coaters, such as aluminum metallizers, to measure the thickness and uniformity of vacuum-deposited coatings by employing optical density or radio frequency (RF) eddy current technologies. The dual-mode nature of the system, considered a first for the industry, makes it compatible with a wide range of clear, opaque, or printed substrates and allows users to select the monitoring method best suited to the substrate.

While optical density measurement is more precise, it is not compatible with opaque or printed substrates. On the other hand, RF measures surface resistance, offering greater flexibility at a lower accuracy level. Microprocessor-equipped emitters and receivers enable the signal to be processed within the “smart” sensor itself, rather than through a central processing unit, resulting in higher measuring accuracy and stability over time.

The system has potential for broad application in the coating industry, said the judges, answering “a long-standing problem and [it] allows users to seamlessly switch between RF and optical density technologies.”

Innovation with a Twist
Toray Plastics (America) Inc., North Kingston, RI, was selected as finalist in the Material Category for its LumBrite U6E PET film. Claimed the first directly embossable polyester for holographic applications, the film is available in 60, 92, and 200 gauges and comprises a three-layer coextrusion (oriented in the machine direction), with a proprietary coating, and oriented in the transverse direction. Applying the coating between the orientation steps allows it to be linked mechanically to the surface and ensures superior adhesion.

The coating, after drying to an approximate thickness of 0.5 micron, is said to provide a high degree of thermal stability to enhance metal adhesion. In comparison to OPP, the directly embossable PET film reportedly offers superior performance with regard to thermal stability, optical qualities, mechanical properties, and print registration.

Suitable applications initially include lamination to paperboard primarily, but the material also is suited for barrier metallized holographic flexible packaging and could feature holograms on one side with printing on the other. Also, a patterned high refractive index coating could be added to the film to permit the production of customizable holograms on demand. Judges cited this finalist for combining existing technologies in a new way to yield strong marketing appeal.

Giant CDs Attract Attention
Named as third finalist in the Technology of the Year awards program was PROMA Technologies, Franklin, MA, in the Coated, Laminated or Metallized Product Category for 40- and 72-in. dia “CDs.” The disks, considered the world's largest mass-produced embossed holograms to date, were produced for a holiday retail display for A/X Armani Exchange, New York, NY, featuring PROMA's 80# HoloPRISM holographic metallized paper in a HoloPRISM/paperboard/HoloPRISM structure.

The metallized, holographic paper combines and repeats three distinct custom holograms to make the 72-in. disk. The large-format “CDs” complemented the retailer's national ad campaign, “Dance Space — A Celebration of Music and Style,” and served as an eye-catching attention grabber for holiday shoppers in 65 stores worldwide. Judges felt these large holographic images accomplish a difficult manufacturing process economically and efficiently.

Judges for Technology of the Year were Ed Cohen, Edward D. Cohen Consulting, Fountain Hills, AZ; Eldridge Mount, Emmount Technologies, Fairport, NY; Bob Bakish, Bakish Materials, Englewood, NJ; Lorry Gogolin, Gogolin & Assoc., Bolton MA; Jim Wheeler, Weseeco, Webster, NY; plus Steve Sedlak, sales manager, Wacker Ceramics, Wacker Chemical, Adrian, MI.

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