VIPs are used in packaging applications requiring lengthy, stable temperature protection, including pharmaceuticals and biological samples. Advantek first launched the Vaculok range of VIP in 1999, after field testing revealed that the technology was five times more efficient in keeping temperatures stable than panels made from rigid polyurethane or expanded polystyrene.
The Vaculok panels are manufactured using a core foam material (Dow Chemical's INSTILL) that is vacuum-sealed within a metal foil or metalised barrier film. A sorbent packet (MiniPax; manufactured by Multisorb Technologies) is inserted within the sealed panel to absorb any remaining moisture or any moisture which permeates the sealed panel. This also helps retain the vacuum within the panel.
The VIPs can be used with various outer shells and inner liners to create a package that is customised for a particular use, according to Advantek.
Other companies have developed VIP-based packaging materials with applications in pharmaceuticals, including Thermo Solutions with its EverCool range and Kodiak Technologies' Cold Chain line.
Robert Demorest, MOCON's president and CEO, said: "An unacceptably high percentage of perishable shipments are wasted each year due to inadequate thermal packaging, and we believe VIPs are part of the solution."
It has been estimated that at least 7 per cent of temperature-sensitive medical materials suffer a reduction in potency during transit, and both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) have initiated programmes to extend enforcement of the product license specifications for in-transit temperature control.