In 2006 Mondi opened its R&D Centre in Korneuburg, Austria, which has two laboratories and pilot production lines with digital printing equipment. The R&D Centre has extensive know-how in various extrusion processes, offset, flexo, rotogravure and digital printing, lacquering, glue and adhesive lamination, slitting and laser perforation, and bag and pouch production with various functional add-ons. The materials it focuses on include biodegradable polymers, transparent barrier materials, paper and polymer membranes.
The R&D Centre’s approach is to team up with customers and equipment producers at an early stage of product development to design innovative solutions that often pre-empt market needs. For example, ROFIN Laser Micro visits the R&D Centre regularly to help identify promising solutions, improve laser performance and streamline methods for integrating lasers into production processes.
Examples of applications include:
MAP (MODIFIED ATMOSPHERE PACKAGING)
In MAP, laser perforation helps regulate air ventilation and humidity to increase the shelf-life of fresh or refrigerated food products. New laser perforation technologies are opening up new possibilities for selective creation of micro-holes in packaging. Micro-perforated films adapt to the product’s respiration rate and adjust oxygen levels to create the ideal atmosphere inside the bag. Fresh salads were among the first products to which this technology was applied.
The technology has now advanced to allow the packaging to control the flow of certain gases, e.g. in the ripening of cheese. Mondi Consumer Flexibles has the necessary in-depth knowledge of the processes involved, e.g. the size, number and positioning of the minute holes based on the contents and packaging in question.
NeoSteam is a microwave packaging developed by Mondi Consumer Flexibles for frozen or refrigerated food in pouches, bags or trays. It features a valve integrated into high barrier films which regulates pressure inside the package, allowing healthy preparation that retains flavour and vitamins.
After launching NeoSteam, Mondi went on to combine the valve solution with MAP sealing films. The resulting NeoSteam MAP packaging prolongs the shelf life of refrigerated products in pouches (FFS bags) or trays (e.g. meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and ready-to-serve meals). NeoSteam and MAP both require laser perforation of varying diameters.
The challenge was to find the best solution based on cost and performance. Mondi assessed the oxygen and water vapour permeability of packaging films for different contents. Having determined ways to optimize the size, amount and positioning of perforation holes for MAP and NeoSteam, Mondi R&D focused on ensuring high delivery rates in the manufacturing process.
Convenience foods require easy preparation and handling, easy opening without scissors or a knife, and reliable resealing. Easy-opening involves selective weakening of the mechanically supporting layer without affecting other functionalities. Mechanical scribing or punching methods are simple but are unable to differentiate between the individual layers. The challenge for laser perforation was to find a dependable method which acts selectively on the different layers. Laser structuring with CO2 lasers provides a novel solution.
At Mondi Consumer Flexibles, every success story is the preface to the next: The Mondi R&D Centre is already working on tomorrow’s packaging for even more convenient and economical packaging, and constantly endeavours to pre-empt market trends and producers’ requirements.
New materials, enhanced processing technologies such as laser perforation, and novel add-on features such as top sliders reflect the Mondi philosophy of delivering solutions for your success.