Flex Films engineers a perfect concoction for transforming pharma packaging
Kentucky - Conventionally Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Bi-axially Oriented Polyamide, BOPA (BON) films have been extensively used in the cold formed pharma packaging industry. A typical Alu – Alu blister laminate comprises three layers i.e. 25 micron BOPA/ 60 micron Soft Aluminium Foil / 60 micron PVC.
Eliminating BOPA and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) films in the cold formed Alu - Alu laminate blister pack for pharmaceuticals has for long remained a daunting task for packaging experts.
A conventional cold formed pharmaceutical blister back gives away chlorine upon coming in contact with sunlight. This is extremely harmful for the environment. PVC also contains plasticizers with phthalates linked to a host of health disorders that can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. PVC film leaves high carbon footprint making it further undesirable from the environmental perspective besides exhibiting very low temperature resistance which is yet another shortcoming.
BOPA (BON) on the other hand is also fraught with challenges like high moisture absorption to the tune of 8-10% making its processing difficult; leading to de-lamination and impairing the ability of the film to be chemically primed.
Keeping these challenges of BOPA and PVC substrates in mind, the team at Flex Films (film manufacturing arm of India’s largest multinational flexible packaging materials and solution company Uflex Limited) undertook extensive R&D activities for almost two years to come up with a special polyester film that obviates the problems posed by BON and PVC. The special polyester film is all set to replace the top and bottom substrates of the conventional cold formed Alu – Alu laminate to a whole new structure comprising 36 micron special polyester/ 50 micron soft aluminium foil/ 36 micron special polyester.
Polyester is a para-crystalline material which possesses excellent barrier, clarity, printability, and hardness properties. Film forming and orientation of polyester augurs well for the creation of thin profile webs with excellent properties for use in flexible packaging.
This speciality substrate that has been developed by Flex Films can be laminated on both sides of the aluminium foil without any problem quite like the laminate comprising BOPA, Aluminium Foil and PVC films. The engineers at Flex Films have been successfully able to bring metaphase morphology which has made it possible to form the film in Z direction which is a pre-requisite for blister packaging.
Commenting about the major breakthrough that this special polyester film will bring about in the field of pharmaceutical packaging, Mr. Anantshree Chaturvedi, Vice Chairman & CEO, Flex Films International said, “Getting better functionalities as compared to the Alu - Alu laminate structure comprising BOPA- Aluminium Foil- PVC, the team at Flex Films has come up with a special polyester film that will have significant and substantial benefits for the converters catering to pharmaceutical brands. The convertors up till now were left with no option other than managing varied inventories of BON and PVC films separately. With the introduction of our specialised Polyester film that will be laminated on both the sides of Aluminium foil, the logistical hassles for convertors will surely go down.”
Mr. Anantshree Chaturvedi further said, “The moisture absorption of this specialised polyester film is as low as 0.8% working out to almost 92% less than that of Nylon which is a big advantage. It is incredible that Flex Films has been able to replace BOPA and PVC films from the Alu – Alu laminate structure much to the advantage of convertors. There is also a yield benefit in the case of the new laminate structure with no compromise on functionalities whatsoever. This light-weighting of the laminate equates to lesser energy consumption at all the three critical stages of flexible packaging life cycle i.e. manufacturing; transportation and disposal, which is again conducive for the environment”, added Mr. Anantshree Chaturvedi.
Aluminium foil as you know offers negligibly low oxygen and water vapour transmission rates. Such high barrier may not really be required by the drug packed inside. We are therefore also working towards offering high barrier (yet thinner and optimised) speciality polyester films as an alternative to aluminium foil that may further lead to the reduction in overall weight of the ensuing laminate. The introduction of specialised polyester film in Alu – Alu blister packaging as a replacement for BON and PVC films has also opened up avenues for us to come up with biodegradable and oxo-degradable variants further minimising the carbon foot prints. We are also working towards developing such speciality films using recycled polyester and Green PET that will bolster our commitment towards the environment.”, concluded Mr. Anantshree Chaturvedi.
Expressing delight on the specialized polyester film that has been engineered by Flex Films, Mr. Ashok Chaturvedi, Chairman and Managing Director, Uflex Limited (Parent company of Flex Films) said, “This is innovation with value added differentiation at its purest that fairly and squarely addresses the shortcomings of both BON and PVC films faced by convertors catering to pharmaceutical companies. This film is a great product for the pharmaceutical packaging industry that will raise the bar for competition world over thereby being a real game changer. When the bar for competition is raised the global flexible packaging industry as a whole stands to benefit both in terms of quality as well as technology.”