Flexible Packaging

The future of flexible packaging By Colin Smith, European product manager of Sun Chemical

important focus for brand owners as they search for ways to reduce raw material costs and production processes. This is also influenced by consumer opposition to excessive packaging and the growing appeal of flexible packaging for consumers seeking convenience as well as sustainability. Barrier selection is one of the most important decisions that brand owners must make when it comes to lightweighting and Sun Chemical has two breakthrough oxygen barrier technologies: SunBar - a water-based coating that can be applied by flexo or gravure applications that delivers oxygen barrier properties of less than 1 cc/m²/24 hours from a 0.3µ thick coating. Paslim - a solvent-based lamination

adhesive suitable for high performance structures such as retort and sterilisation, which also delivers oxygen barrier properties that potentially allow three ply structures to be down gauged to two ply structures delivering both cost and environmental benefits. The need for barrier technology will only


he flexible packaging industry is facing its biggest challenges in possibly a generation. In addition

to the well documented ongoing decline in run lengths, which are forcing converters to streamline operations to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and ultimately reduce overall costs, converters now also have to manage general concerns over sustainability and specifically, the concerns around plastic consumer waste. Fortunately, in recent years, the flexible

packaging industry has invested in the latest equipment and embraced emerging technologies, meaning it is now better equipped to overcome new challenges and strengthen its place in the supply chain. As a leading global supplier of inks, coatings and adhesives, Sun Chemical is developing products, technologies and services that ensure our customers meet their sustainability and operational efficiency goals. In recent years, Sun Chemical’s R&D has focused on sustainability and operational efficiency, so that today, new enabling technologies can be offered to the global market place.

OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY Success has been achieved by the introduction of high opacity white inks that allow flexible packaging converters to apply

22 May 2019

lower coating weights, thereby improving overall CIU (cost in use) while maintaining required opacity levels. Another important driver in the stride for greater operational efficiency and lower cost, is the steady rise in the use of flexo multi-colour process printing. The latest generation of SunUno Solimax HD universal inks are suitable for surface print and reverse print applications and are available as a four colour and seven colour set. These inks deliver gravure type colour densities and print clean over the entire press run, thus reducing down-time and plate cleaning time. The inks minimise the need for traditional spot colours that can prove costly due to the resources needed to manage them. Minimising waste and reducing press

downtime has been the major focus of SunColorBox, a set of tools and services enabling full digital colour management from design to press. This includes SunECG for Expanded Colour Gamut printing and a unique tool like the Gamut Viewer to assess if a colour can be achieved on a specific press via a seven colour process.


Sun Chemical has a number of products and concepts that can assist our customers in meeting their individual sustainability goals and commitments. For instance, lightweighting packaging structures is an

increase going forward as the market attempts to develop mono material structures. Polyolefin structures, that ultimately can be recycled, will generally have lower barrier properties compared to the current PET structures, so will need enhancing. An important issue for the high performance lamination market sector is the use of PVC. Historically, PVC inks were used for gravure print retort pouches. However, PVC is now frowned upon by major brand owners due to its poor environmental credentials. The predominant replacement technology is polyurethane, and Sun Chemical has put significant R&D into formulating polyurethane polymers that are now used in Sun’s three flagship polyurethane systems. SunStrato Duratort PF – high

performance flexo system SunStrato Duratort PG – high

performance gravure system SunStrato Duratort PM– mono solvent

(Ethyl Acetate only) high performance system (suitable for converters with solvent recovery systems). In recent years, the level of consumer

concern regarding sustainability has significantly increased and has prompted an increase in demand for more sustainable inks and coatings by packaging converters and brand owners. Consequently, Sun Chemical’s commitment to these technologies has increased so that inks and coatings with bio sourced and/or recycled materials are available to enhance our customers’ environmental profiles. 

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