CHICAGO — Innoflex Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga., start-up firm, introduced its patented Inno-Lok-brand ``pre-zippered'' film at Pack Expo in Chicago. While Innoflex developed the concept, Green Bay, Wis.-based FMC Corp. makes the equipment to attach the zippers. ITW Minigrip, based in Manteno, Ill., is making the zipper for the bags. The companies are producing a reclosable zipper system for barrier and nonbarrier flexible packaging applications.
Inno-Lok allows zippers to be applied to rolls of film at the film-maker or converter level. The zipper is attached transversely to the machine direction of the film and wound into the roll, eliminating the need to modify existing machinery.
Another benefit is the reduction in scrap.
``With the zipper, the end-use packager has no more scrap than he does now without zippers,'' said Werner Goeckel, vice president of marketing and sales for Innoflex. ``The zippers are put on ahead of time in controlled conditions at the converter level,'' which he said is the ideal place.
``Packagers love this technology. They have had so much trouble putting zippers on at the end of the line.''
The roll will run on form-fill and seal equipment just like unzippered film.
Because the zipper is applied transversely, the thick zipper profile does not have to be sealed and cut during the filling process. Both the male and female zipper profiles are on one side of the package. The zipper tape is heat-sealed with flanges to the inside of the package and the zipper is accessible through perforation on the outside of the package or tear strip.
``This is a completely different idea,'' Goeckel said. ``We've had interest from around the world, but want to focus on the U.S. market first.''
Some of that interest has come from such converters as American National Can Co., Printpack Inc., Bemis Co. Inc. and Huntsman Packaging Corp. and food companies like Kellogg's, General Mills, Quaker, Frito-Lay and Ore-Ida, Goeckel said. Potential end-use markets include frozen vegetables and seafood, fresh and frozen poultry, cereal, cookies and crackers, salted snacks, pet food and candy.
Innoflex received a patent earlier this year and has applied for patents in Europe and Asia. The company said it expects to discover violations of its patent.
The concept was developed by Jim Yeager, Goeckel's partner. Both men have backgrounds in the plastics industry. Yeager worked for Polyflex in Summit, Miss. Goeckel worked in film extrusion for 30 years as president of Atlantis Films and Flexel in Atlanta, and Consolidated Thermoplastics (CT Film) in Dallas.
Also introduced at PackExpo was the Z-Patch packaging system by Com-Pac International Inc. of Carbondale, Ill. According to the firm, the in-line zipper application system allows vertical form-fill-seal equipment to add reclosable zippers to packages with little or no modifications. Com-Pac said a patent is pending.