Ampac’s presence taps into a market that has seen dramatic growth and development of specialty packaging that protects pharmaceuticals and drug device systems from moisture, oxygen, and mechanical forces.
Transparent packaging is also growing in the specialty market, where its versatility makes it a natural replacement for opaque foil packaging. Transparent packaging also allows for streamlined quality control, simplification of labelling, extended shelf-life, and even enhanced product aesthetics.
Flexi-Free HS Laminate Films is primarily targeted towards end-market applications such as pharmaceutical products, which require handling and packaging products that are heat sensitive and should not be exposed to higher temperatures.
Ampac’s claims that it can seal at temperatures lower than standard laminate materials, means dwell times can be drastically shortened and machine speeds increased.
In addition, pouch-making speeds are claimed to be increased by as much as 20 per cent or more on high-speed, horizontal form/fill/seal machines, increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Industry attempts to observe updated environmental regulations and use less energy also fit well with solventless laminating. The solvent-free HS technology Ampac promotes results in a claimed energy efficiency improvement of 86 per cent when compared to a solvent-based lamination.
Water-based or solventless adhesives do not have the traditional organic solvents that many pharma end-users are keen to avoid. By eliminating the harsh and abrasive chemicals used, these adhesives are well-suited to medical and pharma applications.
Where pharma packaging applications are concerned the slightest trace of solvent residue in an adhesive laminate can contaminate its contents.
Solventless laminating offers many advantages to Ampac’s customers. These include improved shelf-life, barrier, and appearance. In addition, the use of solventless laminating also means removal of retained volatiles associated with solvent laminations is not a concern.
Ampac say that their technology can therefore be applied to many typical barrier laminations such as metalised, aluminum foil and clear films.
“The solventless system not only saves energy, but also provides additional benefits by eliminating solvent based storage, use of flammable materials, and exposure to and removal of volatiles and hazardous waste,” said Sal Pellingra, Ampac Flexible’s innovation and marketing director.
Despite being environmentally desirable, there are some notable disadvantages. Currently, solventless-based lamination cannot count on a well-established industrial network of coating-laminating machinery that is normally used for solvent-based systems.
In addition, water-based adhesives generally do not withstand autoclave sterilization and therefore cannot be used when autoclaving is used as part of the downstreaming processing. Solventless adhesives also require specialised meter-mix equipment that many converters may not possess.