10 Industrial Laser Solutions MAY/JUNE 2015 www.industrial-lasers.com
UK, Europe, and more recently in the US,
where the pouches were quickly embraced
by A-list bars, thanks to their long shelf life
and labor savings (FIGURE 1).
Pouches are a great choice for products with a long expiry period—what’s
more, most pouches are recyclable.
Key pouch design features include
twist-off tops, spouts, handles, and
even carabiners, giving consumers
choice and drink producers an opportunity to distinguish themselves in a
Benefts for packagers?
A key beneft of pouches is the ability
to ft more units in the same space—
pouch packaging weighs far less than
rigid packaging types such as cans and
bottles, while still being able to hold
equivalent volumes of liquid. Using
less and lighter-weight material allows
for lower shipping costs, both fnan-cially and in terms of cost to the environment. With consumers now more aware
of the environmental impact of goods,
the ability to create lighter-weight products in this way is ideal for brands wishing to showcase their commitment to environmental responsibility.
Future of the drink pouch
Drink packagers and brand managers are
set to continue to opt for stand-up pouches
and demand worldwide is set to rise 6.2%
year on year, reaching an expected value of
$37.3 billion in 2018—just three years from
now! Research from the Freedonia Group
suggests that the fastest growth is set to
be in China and other developing nations,
offering great opportunities for export
With numerous benefts and exciting
features, you may see stand-up pouches
within your manufacturing environment in
the near future. A key consideration should
be whether your current production line
has the right coding equipment in place.
The long shelf life of pouches require
coded information, such as batch number
and expiry date information, to be permanent—unable to be rubbed off over time.
Also, ongoing improvements are expected
to be made on the barrier flm substrates of
pouches, so coding and marking machines
need to keep up and still code effectively
when materials change.
Currently coated flms are made from
polyvinylidene chloride (PVdv) or the
cheaper option of ethylene vinyl alcohol
(EVOH). Neither of these flms allows
carbonated drinks to be stored in a
pouch due to escaping gases. Similarly,
pouches cannot be used for products
that are hot-flled—but with improvements in heat tolerance, these will no
longer be limitations.
Laser coder capability
Consider whether your coder will be
able to cope with changing substrates
and developments in the drink industry. In applications such as this where
running costs are particularly important, laser coding machines can reduce
costs substantially, as they use no
consumables. Better still, laser tube
life is up to 45,000 hrs.
The Linx SL302 laser coder is able
to mark a wide variety of surfaces at
high speed (FIGURE 2). Its intuitive user
interface is touch-screen and allows
you to quickly and simply switch between
codes. The Linx SL302 can meet coding requirements as they change—such
as changes in line speed, code complexity, or material types—with no additional
This article was provided by Katy Crouch
on behalf of Linx Printing Technologies;
FIGURE 2. The Linx SL302 laser coder is able to mark
drink packaging materials at high speed.
EMLACS project explores laser-assisted cold-spray material deposition
With Cold Spray technology, coating lightweight materials such as
plastics or carbon fber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) is signifcantly simpler. In the EU-funded project “Effcient Manufacturing of Laser-Assisted Cold-Sprayed Components” (EMLACS; www.emlacs.eu),
ultrafast laser pulses modify material surfaces so that metal powder
from a cold gas jet can adhere more easily. The project unites fve
partners from industry and research who want to extend low-pressure cold gas spraying to new applications.
Cold Gas Spraying is an additive manufacturing process in which
metal powders are accelerated to supersonic speeds to adhere to
material surfaces. The material deposition process is based on the
kinetic energy of the particles. A thick layer (>0.5mm) is deposited
with no thermal defect in the substrate. The deposited layer can be
directly machined or reworked.
The main advantages of low-pressure cold gas spraying are the
lack of heat input, high processing speed, and low investment cost.
New material combinations are especially promising in automotive
The main challenge in this technology is the adherence of the frst
layer on the workpiece. The aim of the EU research project EMLACS
will improve adhesion on different substrates by using high-speed
laser surface structuring with integrated nanosecond and picosecond lasers with low-pressure cold gas spraying. New material combinations can then be developed for industrial use.