UBE Engineering Plastics - Truly flexible solutions

The flexible plastic film packaging developed by UBE Engineering Plastics offers a range of benefits, from providing logistical savings due to low weight and reduced packaging bulk to being especially puncture resistant.

Among all the applications for polymers, food packaging is one of the most active sectors. By just looking in supermarkets, one can see their evolution and the number of new technologies used. One of the most obvious is the replacement of traditional materials such as glass and cans with rigid plastic bottles, trays and pots, providing benefits in terms of weight, performance and convenience. However, further evolution is taking place, with the arrival of flexible packaging based on thin multilayer plastic films, which provide the best food:packaging weight ratio, helping to save cost and provide environmental benefits in terms of minimising packaging waste. Savings of logistics costs due to, for example, the low weight and compact transport, result in further benefits.

UBE Engineering Plastics specialises in the production of Polyamide 6 and Copolyamide 6/6.6, which are used to manufacture automotive components, engineering components, monofilaments, consumer products and film resins for food packaging. The family of standard, medium and high-viscosity polyamide grades is completed by UBE Nylon FD grades - polyamides with added functionality based on UBE's modification technology, and which as ready-to-use solutions save time and money. Typically, these grades are developed to offer tailor-made functionality for particular applications or specific manufacturing processes.

The role of polyamides in new packaging trends is growing due to the following features:

  • high mechanical strength (especially puncture resistance)
  • enhanced flex-crack resistance (pinhole resistance over an extended number of cycles)
  • barrier properties (medium barrier to oxygen, selective barrier to other gases)
  • high thermal resistance
  • excellent thermoforming capability
  • process-independent bi-axial orientable, shrinkable
  • good surface aspect (gloss, haze) and printability.

The main properties of the polyamide depend upon the degree of crystallisation. For example, by reducing the degree of crystallisation some properties will improve and make the film better suitable for the production of flexible packages.

The advantages of flexible thermoforming

Flexible thermoforming packaging is one of the packaging systems that is displaying steady growth due to its unbeatable efficiency (package volume/surface ratio) and its convenience in conversion (the food producer can produce the packages by himself, buying only film rolls). Polyamides are one of the favoured materials for such an application, but not all polyamides produce the same performance. Copolyamides, however, can provide:

  • better thermoformability to reach greater depth
  • lower costs by the reduction of total film thickness
  • higher production speed
  • cost savings thanks to lower temperatures and time for pre-heating
  • more freedom in mould and package design - attractive shapes, individual packages for convenience.

The higher thermoforming capacity of UBE's Terpalex allows producers to design deeper packages with more complex shapes, without compromising integrity and avoiding defects and breakages. By contrast, staying with an existing design and mould depth makes it possible to use thinner film (down-gauging), at the same time saving costs and providing environmental benefits by using fewer raw materials and creating less waste.

UBE Nylon is dedicated to new trends in the packaging market, supplying advanced materials with enhanced properties, allowing production of more efficient, protective, attractive and sustainable packages. Copolyamide 6/6.6 and Terpalex offer superior flexibility, mechanical and optical properties, making them the best partners for the new packaging generation.

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UBE Engineering Plastics
URL: www.ube.com

Example of a deep-thermoformed package.
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