HONG KONG — Hong Kong-based plastics firm Viva Healthcare Packaging (HK) Ltd. believes it's found a better way to make tubes for skincare and other cosmetics, using injection molding instead of extrusion, and is adding substantial capacity at its factories in Asia, North America and Eastern Europe to meet growing demand.
The company plans over the next several months to boost its annual capacity from 200 million tubes to 300 million, in the process adding more injection molding at Viva facilities in Hong Kong, Canada and Poland, a company executive said in an interview at the recent CosmoProf Asia trade show.
The company only started seriously marketing the tubing two years ago, but it has seen growing demand among brand owners of skin care, toothpaste and other personal care products, said Viva Healthcare General Manager Alfred Choi.
Viva currently has 20 350-ton Sumitomo injection molding machines dedicated to the tubing at the three factories, and plans to add at least 10 more, said Choi, who declined to disclose how much money was being invested.
“We want to make the capacity available before the customers make the commitment,” he said.
Viva Healthcare is part of the much larger Viva Group, which employs 2,000 people worldwide and has annual sales of more than US$300 million, with several hundred molding machines in factories in Hong Kong, Toronto, Warsaw, Poland and Shenzhen, China. It's one of the largest global manufacturers of CD and DVD packaging.
Viva contends that the injection molded tubing, which uses in-mold labeling as a decoration process, is more economical and efficient and has a lower environmental footprint than tubing made with extrusion and printing.
The injection molded tubes are made from 100 percent polypropylene, making them easier to recycle than multilayer extruded tubing, Choi said.
Choi said the products are catching on because the in-mold labeling provides good quality graphics that can help products, particularly commodity items, stand out on store shelves.
“I think the trend in the market is people want better and better looking tubes,” Choi said. “Our tubes follow the trend to try to help companies get more shelf impact.”
He also said the company sees some customers looking to replace bottles and paper cartons with the tubing.
At CosmoProf Asia, held Nov. 13-15 in Hong Kong, the company was touting a variation of the injection molded tubing with two chambers, which it said has a simpler manufacturing process than using extrusion to make a multi-chambered tube.