AIMCAL Announces Winners During Virtual Award Ceremony

The Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) presented its 2020 Sustainability Award during a special Virtual Awards presentation on Thursday, April 16. The AIMCAL Awards Webinar replaced the traditional Awards Ceremony, planned for the group’s Executive Leadership Conference in March, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Winners also will be recognized at the AIMCAL 2020 R2R USA Conference (Oct. 18-21, Orlando, FL). 

AIMCAL Sustainability Award

The Primark wipes package from Flex Films (USA) Inc. (Elizabethtown, KY), the U.S. subsidiary of Uflex Limited, Films Business (Noida, India), earned the Sustainability Award with its completely recyclable asymmetric nylon – polyethylene (5-micron nylon in 20-micron PE)/ reverse-printed/adhesive/60-micron special PE structure. This innovation also earned a Technology Excellence Award. The nylon/PE layers ensure good label adherence through repeated peel/reseal usage and eliminate leaks while the inner sealant layer minimizes evaporation and bonds strongly at lower sealing temperatures. Designed as a replacement for a polyester/PE, the nylon/PE/PE film runs on existing equipment.

The judges liked the asymmetric structure because the nylon enhances the barrier properties and stiffness of the film, but is present at levels so low the material is recyclable in the PE stream. “Wipes are a rapidly growing market,” notes one judge. “This will enhance the sustainability of the category,” he explains. 

The judges also awarded two Honorable Mentions. One went to ProAmpac (Cincinnati, OH), the other to Rolvac, LP (Dayville, CT)/Plastic Suppliers Inc. (Columbus, OH).

ProAmpac has developed a high-barrier pouch with 25% post-consumer-recycled (PCR) content. It’s used for Justin’s nut butter covered nuts. A zipper provides easy access and reclosability to minimize food waste. High opacity white inks and surface matte coating and lamination processes work together to mask the haziness and inconsistencies inherent with PCR content.

The judges were impressed by the level of recycled content and found the overall appearance of the package appealing. “If the circular economy is going to work, it’s vital to provide markets for recycled materials,” noted one member of the panel.

Rollvac, LP/Plastic Suppliers Inc. earned an Honorable Mention for EarthFirst® metallized ultralight polylactic acid (PLA) sealant film, which combines enhanced barrier and sealability with compostability in industrial systems. The metallized PLA can replace a layer of foil, other metallized film, or sealant film and thereby convert three-layer structures to two layers, a gauge reduction of almost 50% and a weight reduction of 40%. Efficiency also improves due to fewer roll changes. Designed for dry products, the plant-based material provides excellent flavor, aroma, and grease barrier properties. It also offers superior sealing properties with a low seal initiation temperature, the ability to seal through contamination, a wide hot-tack temperature range, and high seal strength.

The judges liked the combination of barrier and sealant functions in the metallized PLA. “The potential for converting three-layer films to two-layer structures not only shrinks the carbon footprint of the packaging but also reduces its cost,” noted one judge. “Even though most U.S. consumers don’t have access to industrial composting facilities, consumers view compostability favorably,” added another member of the panel.

The judging teleconference was moderated by Chris Kerscher, executive director of AIMCAL. The panel consisted of experts in converting and packaging: Larry Jopko, principal of Stickum Consultancy LLC (Houston, TX); Robert M. Kimmel, Sc.D., associate professor, director, Packaging Science Program, director, Center for Flexible Packaging, Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University (Clemson, SC); and Jeff Weber, package application manager at Scholle IPN (Northlake, IL).

Jopko has been involved in the flexible packaging industry for more than 40 years and retired from Dow Chemical Co. (Lake Jackson, TX). As a specialist in food and industrial packaging and expert in urethane, acrylic, and polyester adhesive and coating chemistry, he has helped develop products, structures, converting and application methods, as well as suitability testing protocols.

Part of the Clemson faculty since 1999, Dr. Kimmel teaches package design, supervises research and service to the industry in flexible packaging, and maintains an active consulting practice as an expert witness for intellectual property litigation. Earlier in his career, he worked for more than 30 years in R&D and management positions at Hoechst Celanese Corp. focused on films and resins, primarily for the packaging industry.

Prior to working with Scholle, Weber spent many years in packaging development at Mondelēz International (Deerfield, IL) and its predecessor Kraft. During that time he was responsible for eight packaging patents. Many of the packaging solutions he helped develop, commercialize, and optimize have endured and remain visible today on grocery store shelves around the world.

Technology of the Year Award

The 2020 AIMCAL Technology of the Year Award goes to a patent-pending LLS (lap-less splice) unwind from New Era Converting Machinery (Hawthorne, NJ). A specially designed splicer roll on a turret unwind forms a lap- and tail-free splice on the fly so there’s no need to stop the ends of the webs to form a butt splice. The LLS unwind also negates the need for a web accumulation device and forms the splice without exposing any adhesive that could cause problems as the web moves through the process or blocking in wound rolls. Operating in excess of 1,000 feet per minute, the result is higher productivity, improved quality, and reduced waste because there is no need to jump lap splices, and damage from wound-in lap splices is eliminated.

The judges liked the on-the-fly nature of the splicing process, its potential impact on the marketplace, and the elimination of awkward lap splices. “If it runs reliably at full speed, that would be a lot of uptime and film saved,” commented one judge. “It could enjoy widespread use,” noted another member of the panel.

The judges also recognized four entries with Technical Excellence Awards. Two went to Flex Films (USA) Inc. (Elizabethtown, KY), a subsidiary of Uflex Limited’s Films Business (Noida, India), one to Advanced Energy Industries (Denver, CO), and one to Dow Chemical Co. (Lake Jackson, Texas).

Flex Film’s first Technical Excellence Award also earned the AIMCAL Sustainability Award for 2020. The Primark wipes package consists of a completely recyclable asymmetric nylon – polyethylene (5-micron nylon in 20-micron PE)/ reverse-printed/adhesive/60-micron special PE structure. The nylon/PE layers ensure good label adherence through repeated peel/reseal usage and eliminate leaks while the inner sealant layer minimizes evaporation and bonds strongly at lower sealing temperatures. Designed as a replacement for a non-recyclable polyester/PE, the nylon/PE/PE film runs on existing equipment.

The judges noted it’s difficult to achieve sufficient barrier properties in a structure that recycles in the PE waste stream. As a result, they believe this recyclable material has the potential for substantial growth. “Everyone has been working on recyclable PE barrier materials,” noted one judge. “This is an especially important development for India where foil laminations have been outlawed,” reported another member of the panel.

Flex Film’s second Technical Excellence Award was bestowed on a 4D handled bag for Royal Gold tea and Rice King rice. The brick-shaped bag features six registered panels and can be merchandised standing up or flat. Designed to replace cartons, the 2-kilogram bag features an integrated handle and zipper reclosure. Rotogravure printing and high-gloss transparent inks contribute to shelf impact.

The judges liked the convenience and appearance of the 4D bags and the potential for using different materials for different panels. “The handle and zipper add value,” said one judge. “There’s a lot of innovation and quite a nice engineering feat,” observed another member of the panel.

The third Technical Excellence Award went to Advanced Energy Industries for its patented and patent-pending Dynamic Reverse Pulsing 2.5 rate-enhanced pulsed DC co-sputtering system. The magnetron sputtering power configuration switches anode and cathode roles every half cycle and can apply two or more target materials. Benefits include a higher deposition rate, lower substrate heating, and reduced plasma arcing and resulting particle generation. Lower substrate heating is especially critical for coating heat-sensitive web materials such as polyethylene terephthalate. Other applications include flat panel display coating, jumbo glass coating, micro-electrical mechanical systems, and sensors.

The judging panel characterized the DRP 2.5 system as a significant advance and a boost to efficiency and equipment longevity. “Time is saved when you can put down a thicker coating without exceeding temperature,” commented one judge

The final Technical Excellence Award winner, a water-based Opulux™ matte finish from Dow Chemical, also earned a Product Excellence Award in this year’s competition. The low-gloss, soft-touch matte finish is imparted by acrylic beads with a designed gradient refractive index and controlled particle size distribution. It enhances the recyclability of polyolefin and paper structures and is designed to replace traditional overprinting varnishes and toxic polyaziridine chemistry. Other benefits include excellent color fidelity, contact transparency, anti-seal/thermal resistance, and abrasion resistance. It may be applied on conventional coating/printing equipment to a wide range of film and paper substrates and is compatible with food-contact requirements.

The judging teleconference was moderated by AIMCAL Executive Director Chris Kerscher. The panel consisted of well-known experts in the converting field: Dr. Charles A. Bishop of C.A. Bishop Consulting Ltd. (Loughborough, U.K.); Dr. Edward D. Cohen of Edward D. Cohen Consulting, Inc. (Fountain Hills, AZ); and Dr. Eldridge M. Mount of EMMOUNT Technologies, LLC (Canandaigua, NY).

Dr. Bishop established C.A. Bishop Consulting Ltd. in December 1998 after earning several degrees and working for Imperial Chemical Industries. He specializes in all aspects of vacuum deposition including system design; process development, scale-up and troubleshooting; process control; and plasma surface treatments and coatings. He has published more than 100 technical papers, been granted five patents, and conducted training courses around the world. He is the author Vacuum Deposition onto Webs, Films & Foils (3rd Edition 2015) and Roll-to-Roll Vacuum Deposition of Barrier Coatings (2nd Edition 2015).

A veteran of DuPont and an expert in web coating, Dr. Cohen’s expertise encompasses coating and drying of thin films, coating process development and scale-up, polyester base development, film defect mechanisms, defect characterization techniques, litigation support, and professional development activities for scientists. He served as founding president of the International Society of Coating Science and Technology and is the recipient of the John Tallmadge Award for Contributions to Coating Technology and the AIMCAL President’s Award.

Dr. Mount has worked for more than 35 years as a polymer engineer in the field of biaxial film orientation including stints at ExxonMobil and ICI Americas Film Division. An expert in oriented films and metallized films for packaging and barrier film technologies, he also is well-versed in plastic extrusion, screw design, rheological measurements, coextrusion troubleshooting, and system specification. A popular presenter of converting-related courses, other capabilities include new product design, process design, and expert witness testimony.

AIMCAL Product of the Year

The winner of the Package of the Year Award is a transfer-metallized carton for Arctic Blue Gin with custom holography from Hazen Paper Co. (Holyoke, MA), an AIMCAL member that operates on hydroelectric power. The custom hologram shimmers, flashes, and flares in the background to create an illusion of the northern lights. As the viewing angle changes, the mesmerizing holography flashes and moves like an animation. The optical effect is created with a sub-micron embossing grid in the transfer-metallized layer. The ultra-thin coating layer provides visual impact typical of much thicker structures. Other elements in the eye-catching Nordic scene include a pine tree overhanging a frozen lake. After designing the hologram, Hazen replicated it with its Envirofoil transfer-metallizing lamination process on a second-use film carrier. The image was then transferred to Metsa Pro FBB paperboard, which was printed and converted by AM Litho

The judging panel was impressed by the graphics and registration of the embossing. “The holography really grabs one’s attention,” commented one judge. “It’s a visually compelling package,” agreed another member of the panel.

The judges also presented three Product Excellence Awards. The second award winner for Hazen Paper involved a setup carton for a gift box for Woman by Ralph Lauren. The gift box consists of two weights of solid bleached sulfate laminated to 48-gauge matte and gloss metallized polyester. The metallized film is found on the outer top cover, the inside and outer surface of the base, and on top of a die-cut insert, which fits on a thermoformed pocketed tray that cradles the products. 

The judges noted the box provides a striking appearance and makes good use of metallized film inside and out. “It’s very appealing,” said one member of the panel. “Although complicated, it’s a well-thought-out, cohesive design and well-engineered,” he added.

Another Product Excellence Award went to Flex Films (USA) Inc. (Elizabethtown, KY), the U.S. subsidiary of Uflex Limited, Films Business (Noida, India), for colorful tubes for Clariss Organic face wash. The FlexiTube format delivers high-definition, 360-degree-printed graphics by laminating reverse-printed rotogravure film to the tube substrate. A matte finish imparts a premium appearance. Barrier properties and anticounterfeiting features can be integrated into the structure.

The judges pronounced the package beautiful and were particularly impressed by the high-definition printing and surface texture. “Conventional surface printing does not permit 360-degree coverage,” commented one judge. “This is a departure from traditional tubes,” agreed another member of the panel.

Dow Chemical Co. (Lake Jackson, TX) took home a Product Excellence Award for its water-based Opulux™ matte finish for premium packaging. It also earned a Technical Excellence Award. The coating delivers a low-gloss, soft-touch matte finish with excellent color fidelity, contact transparency, anti-seal/thermal resistance, and abrasion resistance and enhances the recyclability of polyolefin and paper structures. The finish is imparted by acrylic beads with a designed gradient refractive index and controlled particle size distribution and may be applied on conventional coating/printing equipment to a wide range of film and paper substrates. Compatible with food-contact requirements, the finish can replace traditional overprinting varnishes and toxic polyaziridine chemistry.

The judges liked the indulgent feel the matte coating provides and its sustainable aspects. “Color fidelity is superior,” observed one judge. Another member of the panel noted, “Since it’s a coating, it can be used in register to provide a combination of matte and gloss elements.”

The judging teleconference was moderated by Chris Kerscher, executive director of AIMCAL. The panel consisted of experts in converting and packaging: Larry Jopko, principal of Stickum Consultancy LLC (Houston, TX); Robert M. Kimmel, Sc.D., associate professor, director, Packaging Science Program, director, Center for Flexible Packaging, Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University (Clemson, SC); and Jeff Weber, package application manager at Scholle IPN (Northlake, IL).

Jopko has been involved in the flexible packaging industry for more than 40 years and retired from Dow Chemical Co. (Lake Jackson, TX). As a specialist in food and industrial packaging and expert in urethane, acrylic, and polyester adhesive and coating chemistry, he has helped develop products, structures, converting and application methods, as well as suitability testing protocols.

Part of the Clemson faculty since 1999, Dr. Kimmel teaches package design, supervises research and service to the industry in flexible packaging, and maintains an active consulting practice as an expert witness for intellectual property litigation. Earlier in his career, he worked for more than 30 years in R&D and management positions at Hoechst Celanese Corp. focused on films and resins, primarily for the packaging industry.

Prior to working with Scholle, Weber spent many years in packaging development at Mondelēz International (Deerfield, IL) and its predecessor Kraft. During that time he was responsible for eight packaging patents. Many of the packaging solutions he helped develop, commercialize, and optimize have endured and remain visible today on grocery store shelves around the world.

* The AIMCAL Product of the Year Award honors the late Peter Rigney, former publisher of Paper, Film and Foil Converter and long-time champion of the competition, who passed away in 1997.

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