US-based industrial and consumer packaging provider Sonoco is planning to boost production capabilities and support R&D innovation through several future growth projects.

As part of its expansion plans, Sonoco will invest approximately $20m to acquire a new triplex laminator and rotogravure printing press from Bobst Corporation which are expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2016.

To be employed at Sonoco’s plant in Franklin, Ohio, the laminator employs three-layer lamination technology to produce quality laminates with minimum material waste, across a wide range of flexible substrates with varying thicknesses and a variety of adhesive systems.

"We are focused on leveraging our design engineering and material science capabilities with rapid prototyping."

This investment will back Sonoco’s growth in the hot-fill pouch market and sophisticated lamination structures.

The new 11-colour rotogravure press, which will be installed at the company’s Waco plant in Texas, is based on the latest advances in registration control to allow for quick changeovers, which improves production speeds and reduces waste while driving energy-efficiency.

By using Sonoco’s patented easy-open and reclose technology, the press is expected to drive market growth.

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The company is also investing $11.9m in construction of a new innovative packaging solutions (IPS) research and development studio on its Hartsville, South Carolina, campus.

Expected to be unveiled in the third quarter of this year, the centre will house rapid prototyping labs that will use the concepts in developing engineered prototypes. This will be an advanced research and development facility that will connect consumer insights to the invention of new consumer packaging.

Sonoco president and CEO Jack Sanders said: "We are focused on leveraging our design engineering and material science capabilities with rapid prototyping, including 3D printing capabilities, an FDA-registered food fill facility and a multiplatform pilot plant with manufacturing production capabilities for producing test-run packaging for our customers."

Sonoco is also expanding footprint in emerging markets. It is investing $20m for a new composite can facility near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to support the growing snack can market in Southeast Asia. In addition, the company expects to build a second composite can plant in the south of China later in 2015.