Düsseldorf, Germany — United Kingdom-based cellular materials producer Zotefoams plc had a flying start to this year's K, with three product launches and "plenty of interest" from visitors.
The company presented its ReZorce technology to produce a range of recyclable high density polyethylene monomaterials offering moisture and oxygen barrier properties for the food industry during K 2019, Oct. 16-23 in Düsseldorf.
Billed as a circular alternative to composite packaging, the multilayer structure allows incorporation of recycled material while meeting food standards.
The technology involves a multilayer HDPE film, with foamed layers critical in providing moisture vapor transmission and oxygen barrier properties.
Already licensed to a U.S.-based processor, the technology uses a combination of resin and foam layers to create a cost-effective barrier packaging that uses up to 20 percent less materials due to the foam structure.
The unnamed U.S. customer has managed to save 600 tons of materials — around 20 percent — in terms of landfill, as the cuttings during processing can be reused, explained Zotefoams CEO David Stirling in an interview.
In addition to cost-efficiency, ReZorce films have shown that they have lower oxygen transmission rates than most metalized films currently used in food packaging, according to Stirling.
The foamed layers also contribute to paperlike feel and fold characteristics, while the surface is compatible with all commonly used printing methods.
The technology, according to Stirling, is available for licensing to brand owners and converters, and is suitable for a wide range of foodstuffs and beverages requiring oxygen and/or moisture barrier packaging.
The technology can be easily adopted by processors with blown film lines, with little tweaks in the process, according to Stirling.
"We are introducing a range of barrier packaging made from foamed HDPE film that competes with existing composite materials, offers high-quality print finish and can incorporate recycled content, which is very appealing to the industry at this time," the Zotefoams official added.
The U.K. company is currently investing in a $1.1 million pilot plant near Boston to produce prototypes for potential customers of the technology.
In addition to the new packaging technology, Zotefoams also launched, at this year's K, thermoplastic elastomer foams, offering very light-density, energy-saving properties.
"Zotefoams is well known for different types of foams that other companies don't do and developing new markets," said Stirling, adding that the product was developed alongside a customer base.
The product, now being offered to Zotefoams' global customers, is flexible across a wide range of temperature and has already sparked interest in applications for cryogenic insulation.
"We are talking to people about [using the materials as] replacement of rubbers, in products such as seals, gaskets, dampers, etc.," Stirling added.
The main difference between the Zotefoams TPE and rubbers is that the product can be thermoformed, taking a high temperature to shape and offering easy processability.
Zotefoams is also highlighting the successful launch of its polyolefin block foam Azote Adapt last month.
The cross-linked polyethylene foams, according to Stirling, feature a fine cell structure, high consistency and low odor.
Initial manufacturing of the high-purity low-VOC materials has begun at Zotefoams' U.K. facility before scale-up.
Azote Adapt will be targeted at applications in automotive, insulation, HVAC, construction and packaging, where the ability to respond quickly to changes in demand is particularly important.
Zotefoams' 23 million euro ($25.5 million) plant in Poland will produce the material.
Located near Brzeg in southwest Poland, the 50,000-square-meter plant includes significant inventory holding and primary fabrication capability, which will reduce lead times and increase product flexibility.
Zotefoams' recent investments in the U.K., the U.S. and Poland are expected to increase the company's total foam manufacturing capacity by 60 percent compared with just a year and a half ago.