Tom Baran and Matt Hirsch have developed a new technology that is poised to make an impact on the label and packaging industry. Originally established in 2015, their company, Fathom Optics, features a software platform that fits into standard design and prepress workflows.
Fathom Optics’ software creates depth of motion without the need for special materials or inks. According to Baran, CEO and co-founder, the software enables brands, graphic designers and converters to create, visualize and produce impressive moving prints for applications such as prime labels, shrink sleeves, as well as product authentication.
“At Fathom Optics, we’re making customer experiences more engaging and more fun by bringing printed moving graphics to the tangible surface of packaging – no apps or phones required,” explains Baran. “The algorithmic technology we’ve developed leverages existing press technology to add depth, motion and chromatic effects to a wide range of print applications without requiring specialty inks or substrates. The effects create an eye-catching and memorable experience, helping brands stand out on store shelves and better communicate the vision behind their identity.”
Over the last two years, Baran and Hirsch have adapted their product’s light field technology, originally destined for the AR/VR world, and applied it to the world of narrow and mid-web printing, as well as offset. Fathom raised a venture financing round in March of 2020 to accelerate its tech development and bring these exciting new capabilities to brands, designers and converters.
The two founders have been friends and colleagues for over 20 years, originally having met as engineering students at Boston's Tufts University. They then continued their academic paths in separate PhD programs at MIT.
“We realized that if you wanted to make light field displays on a flexo or offset press, you need to process many more pixels than even the highest-resolution modern digital display has,” states Baran. “The mathematics I worked on in my thesis research provided a path to organizing the computation and formulating the algorithms behind doing this.”
Fathom Optics’ software can effectively replace materials with software while adding depth, holographics and other metallic effects without the need for special materials. Fathom effects are created by printing specially-screened images with opaque ink on two layers or two sides of a clear film. The build can be achieved with a wide variety of materials and press technologies for applications like shrink film, adhesive labels, flexible packaging, laminates and more.
The key requirement is that there needs to be two layers of pixels – either printed directly on two sides of a substrate like a shrink sleeve or glue-applied label, or printed on two layers of a laminate. Fathom’s platform was designed from the ground up to fit into existing packaging design and prepress workflows. Designers can apply effects to PDFs by placing special spot colors, either using Fathom’s design portal or our custom Adobe Illustrator plug-in. They can then visualize their creations interactively in 3D and share these 3D designs with collaborators.
“As long as there is some separation between the pixels, Fathom can generate an amazing effect,” says Baran. “And, the thicker the substrate and/or the higher the resolution of the printing plates, the more dramatic the effect. Fathom effects do particularly well with shrink sleeves, since as the product goes through the shrink tunnel, the substrate both thickens, and the effective resolution increases as the printed structure miniaturizes.
“I do think one of the really wonderful aspects of our product, especially in the context of supply chain disruptions, is that it often allows converters to work with what they have on-hand (in terms of materials and equipment) to produce an effect that they couldn’t have had before,” he adds. “Whether a job needs it by the inch or by the mile doesn’t need to be an issue like it did before. This means no more ordering 5,000 feet of a specialty material for a job that only needs 3,000, and no more headaches when plants shut down or shipments are delayed.”
Dove just launched its first-ever refillable deodorant—and it's guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Available at Target and Walmart stores across the U.S., the launch is a part of Unilever's mission to help care for the planet by creating a closed-loop economy.
However, what makes this deodorant so innovative is how beautiful it is—and how pleasurable it feels to hold. The silver and white stainless steel refillable case has rounded corners. The top cap features a white matte finish that looks high-end, paired with a silver base. It is a thoughtful design that fits nicely in the palm of your hand.
“It’s taken years to perfect the sleek ergonomic design,” explains Dawn Hedgepeth, Unilever's general manager and vice president, Deodorants, Men's Grooming, Hand & Body Lotion. “I personally love it — sometimes I call it the iPhone of deodorants,” she says.
Dove worked with international campaign group A Plastic Planet to revolutionize its use of materials. Together, the partners worked with Dutch design consultancy VanBerlo to create the package.
Sjoerd Hoijinck, design and innovation director, VanBerlo says, "Dove refillable deodorant gives you back an experience not unlike a Swiss army knife—a quality object that is personal and ages well over time.”
Sustainable By Design—And Made To Withstand 900 Pounds of Weight
Dove says its new deodorant fulfills its promise of 'buy once and use it for a lifetime.'
But can a deodorant case really last a lifetime?
"It is made from super durable stainless steel," Hedgepeth explains. "This stainless steel is able to withstand nearly 900 pounds of weight — which essentially means you can drive a car over it and not break it…that is something I consider beauty for a lifetime.”
How It Works
The device is beautifully simple to use and delivers a mess-free experience. Opening the box, consumers see the refillable case and one plastic refill. The refill package comes with two plastic containers in one box. Take the refill out of its plastic container, put it on the stainless steel base, then twist it to lock it in place.
"Often what we’ve seen with things like refillable products is that the cardboard that they use or the shape, or formulation, can lead to messiness or melting—and just a sub-par product experience that people don't enjoy," says Hedgepeth.
She continues, "We feel strongly that we should be creating solutions that don’t require people to make a trade-off between doing something great for the planet and doing something that they enjoy —something that just feels delightful and provides a great usage experience."
The team at Dove seems to have succeeded, without compromise. The refillable case is cute, portable, and works well. We were sent one to test.
Reducing Material Usage
The new deodorant's entire design and manufacturing process was designed around a mission to avoid excess material usage. "The miimalist aesthetic really keeps the use of raw materials to a minimum," Hedgepeth explains.
The Dove logo is lasered on the cover of the resuable stainless steel case, which is one example of reducing material usage. Using a label would have required an additional material.
The cartons are made from FSC-graded paper, which means it comes from well-managed forests.
"When it comes to the refill packaging, we do still have to use some plastic due to the need to preserve the freshness of the formulation and maintain the safety of the formula," Hedgepeth says. "...so we continue to use plastic, but we use plastic that is 54% less than what is in a normal Dove stick,” she explains. "
It’s also fully post-consumer recycled plastic. "So less plastic, better plastic, and with a refill system —ideally getting to a system of closed loop," Hedgepeth adds.
To be more precise, the refills use 54% less plastic than regular Dove Zero stick packaging. Of the plastic that is used, 98% percent is made from recycled content. "The intention is to reduce this further as material innovation progresses," says Hedgepeth.
Caring for the planet is a top priority for both Dove and Unilever. The average American produces more than 230 pounds of plastic waste each year – more than in any country on earth—so Dove announced in 2019 that it will reduce its use of virgin plastic by more than 20,500 tonnes per year.
Unilever says this is one of the biggest plastic reduction plans of its kind in the global beauty industry. The amount of virgin plastic Dove will save would be enough to circle the Earth 2.7 times each year.
"We will continue to innovate in this space — and challenge ourselves to create newer, better, and more thoughtfully designed products," says Hedgepeth. She adds, "We are committed to creating a closed-loop economy."
Syntegon Technology, a process and packaging technology provider, is launching its redesigned continuous band sealer machine range. The Doboy CBS-D and B-550 have new names–CBS-D 1500 and CBS-D 750, respectively–and are designed to feature improved operability in combination with the technology of their predecessors.
The redesigned machines include:
- CBS-D 750 with a 7.5-inch heat bar and CBS-D 1500 with two 7.5-inch heat bars,
- Standard stainless-steel execution used for hygienic design,
- Improved user interface and additional design features meant to ensure convenient operation, and
- CBS-D medical version with Allen-Bradley standard touch screen.
Hygienic and user-friendly design
All CBS-D machines now come with a stainless-steel machine frame as standard. This hygienic design feature is supposed to enable the use of the CBS-D in hygiene-critical production environments. The CBS-D 750 with a 7.5-inch heat bar and the CBS-D 1500 with two 7.5-inch heat bars (15 inches in total) also have an updated machine design.
“The previous models not only differed in terms of heat bar length; they were also constructed differently,” Meer says. “We have redesigned the machine components and now offer a fully modular structure.” This is meant to allow customers to configure the machines based on their specific needs.
- Their height is ergonomically adjustable to simplify the bag infeed.
- The polycarbonate guards are designed to let more light into the working cell for easy access to the sealing unit by operators. This is meant to facilitate machine operation and maintenance.
- The HMI interface can be adjusted flexibly for horizontal and vertical machine use.
The continuous band sealers also come in medical versions–designed to meet the medical packaging validation requirements for products to be sterilized. The Doboy CBS-D 750 M and 1500 M are made to offer direct access to the test ports for faster and simple validation and machine calibration. For these medical configurations, the user-friendly HMI interface now comprises a standard Allen-Bradley display that is designed to regulate temperature, pressure and speed. The integrated medical pneumatic control system includes a Festo FLR unit with a digital display regulator for easy maintenance and control.
“Users will immediately notice multiple advancements in the compact, ergonomic design and the throughput speed of up to 100 feet-per-minute. But the biggest impact for packers comes from the Ascent’s ’smart logic‘ technology,” said Ryan Germann, category manager—air systems, Pregis, a manufacturer of protective packaging.
Smart logic recognizes and calibrates the optimal system settings as each roll of film is loaded onto the Ascent. This “load and go” efficiency makes machine operation simple because no adjustments are required, eliminating human error. Additional enhancements improve inflation and create strong, consistent seals. This creates HC with superior air retention compared to competitive solutions.
“With the e-commerce channel growing at an unprecedented rate during COVID-19, it’s even more important for companies to pay attention to their damage rates which can have a catastrophic impact on profits,” said Germann. “Pregis’ AirSpeed Ascent can meet increased demands and improve efficiencies, while HC provides the most effective solution for protecting high-value, breakable items, minimizing damage costs and enhancing customer experience.”
Proteus is a light, strong and non-cuttable material that turns back the force of a cutting tool upon itself. The development of this new material was led by an international research team from Durham University, UK, and Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz in Germany. The researchers got inspiration for this invention from the tough skin cellular skin of grapefruit and the fracture-resistant shells of mollusks.
Three A Press, Corp. (3A Press), an industry leader in producing printing and packaging solutions for life sciences, consumer products, and food & beverage industries, announces that its quality-first approach to manufacturing ensures the highest possible quality in folding cartons for pharmaceutical and medical device applications. These cartons are used to pack prescription pharmaceuticals, vascular products, cardiac devices, insulin pumps, contact lenses, surgical tools, patient monitoring systems, and others, and ensure consistent branding, reduced breakage, and optimize the supply chain.
3A Press uses high-resolution cameras as part of its inline sheet inspection system during manufacturing, enabling the company to deliver high-confidence, zero-defect packaging materials to Life Sciences customers. The system includes multiple inspection points, at both the press and folder steps, to reliably and rapidly detect even the minutest of print errors, such as hickeys, missing print, ink splashes or streaks. With up to five inspection tolerances for different quality specifications, 3A Press guarantees error-free carton production. The inline sheet inspection system outputs Quality Inspection Reports, which 3A Press can provide to customers with each lot, to certify the quality of the folding cartons. Additionally, 3A Press’ high-precision color matching and excellent color consistency ensure that packaging design are a perfect fit with existing customer branding.
A one stop solution for the packaging needs/requirements, the 3A Press ISO certified plant has the capacity to produce Folding Cartons as well as Instructions for Use (IFUs), Instruction Manuals, and Laminated Litho Boxes.
What is EVOH?
Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol, commonly abbreviated EVOH, is a formal copolymer of Ethylene & Vinyl Alcohol.
The production of EVOH contains of a two-step process of Polymerization and Saponification. First, ethylene and vinyl acetate are polymerized using an initiator/activator complex. Second, the ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer (EVAC) is saponified to ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer.
AMP Robotics Extends AI Capabilities to Packaging Producers, Improving Infrastructure for Plastics RecoveryNews:
AMP Robotics Corp. (“AMP”), a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics used to recover commodities reclaimed as raw materials for the global supply chain, is extending its ability to identify and pick recyclables at the brand level by working with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to recover higher rates of these materials.
As the company expands its reach into other nodes of the circular economy, one of AMP’s first corporate partners is consumer beverage giant Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) in support of its introduction of recyclable K-Cup® pods. Following KDP’s conversion of its coffee pods to polypropylene, a sought-after plastic for recycled materials, the companies worked together to equip AMP’s robotics systems to properly identify and sort K-Cup pods in recycling facilities. All of the K-Cup pods KDP produces are now recyclable.
Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer, Keurig Dr Pepper, explained, “Our move to recyclable plastic is a critical first step, but to make greater strides toward circularity, we need to improve acceptance and sortation so we can more readily incorporate recycled plastic back into our products and packaging. Recycling systems in the U.S. are diverse, and we need technology and infrastructure upgrades to improve the quality and quantity of recycled plastic available.”
AMP provides technology to help with this multifaceted challenge. The AI platform that guides AMP’s robotics systems can differentiate objects found in the waste stream by color, size, shape, opacity, brand, and more, contextualizing and storing information about each item it perceives. AI and machine learning enable the robotic sorting of material as granular as a type of plastic at a pick rate of upwards of 80 items per minute—more than two times as fast as human sorters, and with greater accuracy and consistency. This process produces a higher quantity and quality of plastic that suppliers of polypropylene resin can sell back to CPGs to create new packaging. AMP’s AI platform becomes smarter and more effective over time as the company deploys more robots; AMP can add limitless subcategories of brand-level material to meet market demand and distribute the functionality to identify and sort it across its fleet.
“Intelligent plastics sortation, powered by AI, robotics, and advanced data analytics, can have cross-value chain impact and direct benefits to plastic waste generators, sorting facilities, recyclers, and consumer packaged goods companies,” said Rob Writz, director of business development for AMP Robotics. “AI-guided sortation ensures a higher-quality end product that isn’t contaminated by other materials, and a larger volume of recycled material. Collaboration across the recycling value chain will turn product and packaging waste back into the inputs for future manufacturing while growing and strengthening our recycling system.”
In a move that demonstrates the continuous innovation of its AI capabilities, AMP has opened a new 40,000-square-foot test facility in Colorado to explore expanded applications of its technology with the goal of increasing the feedstock of recycled content for CPGs and container producers. This facility will help prototype new, economical ways to ensure recyclables are indeed recycled, even for low volumes that historically have not been economical for recovery. By lowering the cost of recycling marginal volumes, AMP aims to maximize resource recovery and quality for the manufacturing supply chain.
In July, The Recycling Partnership launched the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition to improve its recovery and recycling in the United States and further develop the end market for high-quality recycled polypropylene. The Coalition announced the first four materials recovery facilities to receive grants to fund improved sortation of polypropylene through technology like AMP’s robotics systems and support targeted consumer education efforts. KDP is a founding member of the Coalition and its largest funder; the company has committed to ongoing collaboration with industry peers and other players in the recycling ecosystem to drive meaningful change along with its financial sponsorship. The Coalition’s investments will widen total nationwide acceptance of polypropylene in curbside recycling programs by approximately 1.7% to an additional four million people, resulting in the recovery of a larger supply of polypropylene that could be made into new products.
Oxender concluded, “Investing in ways that amplify our individual actions will enable us to truly drive progress in eliminating packaging waste by improving recycling infrastructure and enhancing consumer education efforts, both of which will increase the recovery of valuable plastics.”
For more about the efforts of AMP and KDP to bring AI to the sorting process at recycling facilities to generate a higher-quality end product for reuse, see this Vox explainer. Further, at 1 p.m. ET today, GreenBiz is hosting a complimentary webcast about how innovation and collaboration is strengthening recycling with AMP Founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz, KDP’s Oxender, GFL Environmental’s Brent Hildebrand, and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners’ Michael DeLucia.
The company explained to Confectionery Production that its latest process has been designed with environmental benefits that have been designed to make manufacturing processes more stable.
Development of its new system follows a recent European study on consumer preferences for packaging carried out in March 2020 revealed that almost 70 percent of respondents were actively trying to reduce their use of plastic packaging (Two Sides: “The Packaging Report 2020”).
Particularly in the market for flexible packaging, for example the primary packaging of products offered to the end consumer in retail outlets, sustainable and recyclable packaging is becoming increasingly important. This has led to interest among brand owners, and thus among players in the packaging industry, to switch to sustainable materials such as recyclable mono-materials and to packaging processes that have been designed precisely for these materials.
This is a switch that is challenging to implement, especially in the packaging of chocolate products. Two traditional methods of effectively packaging sweets are outlined below.
A variety of bars are packaged using composite materials, such as a base of plastic or paper in combination with an aluminium layer. The products can therefore be easily packaged by fold wrapping and do not require any additional securing of the packaging by sealing or glue.
However, packaging materials made of composite materials are not recyclable and are therefore not sustainable in view of market developments. It therefore makes sense to switch to the use of recyclable mono-materials for packaging processes. However, these materials have poor dead-fold properties, i.e. the packaging must be closed and fixed after folding by sealing or with the aid of glue so that it cannot open again.
For well-known brand products, a second packaging variant is traditionally used: a combination of two packaging materials – aluminium paper laminate and plastic packaging. This first “packaging layer”, the inner wrap of aluminium paper laminate, is required as a barrier to protect the sensitive chocolate products during the actual packaging process.
When closing the outer wrap using contact sealing technology, the chocolate could otherwise be damaged by the heat that is generated or by the sealing tools used. As an alternative to this process, packaging has been glued with hot melt. The packaging specialists at Theegarten-Pactec have now developed a technology called “suction supported sealing”, which offers numerous advantages over these conventional processes.
According to the group, food waste contributes 8-10% to total man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and approximately one-third of food produced around the world is wasted each year.
The ‘DeXel’ conceptual design innovation uses connected technology to transform existing jars and bottles into intelligent packaging with the aim of limiting food waste. The timer device magnetically attaches to the lids of food packaging, and seeks to use motion sense technology and an LED light system to help consumers reduce their food waste.
Prior to opening a jar or bottle, the user scans a QR code on the pack with their smartphone, then enters the colour of the device and the use-by date into the app. The DeXel timer device is then ‘connected’ and can track and advise on the extended use of the product.
For example, if the cross is fully lit up in green, the product is safe to use. If the cross shows only one green bar, then the product needs to be consumed that day. A red LED indicates that the product is no longer safe to use and needs to be disposed of.
The DeXel app is sponsored by partnership brands who can engage with consumers by providing tips for food preservation in aid of reducing food waste. Data shared by consumers and stored by DeXel can then be used to provide unique consumer insights on the use of their brands.