MuCell Technology gets Silver citation at DuPont Packaging Awards

Trexel, along with its partners Paccor International and Britton Decorative clinched the Silver Award at the 25th annual DuPont Packaging Awards competition during an award ceremony held 16 May in Wilmington.

The award-winning application was a 3D IML margarine tub injection-molded of expanded polypropylene using the MuCell process. MuCell® technology, when combined with Britton Decorative’s 3-D IML technology enhances the brand presentation with a unique soft touch effect while the tub is manufactured with 13% less material. The brand owner is Unilever, and the designer and molder was PACCOR Packaging. Britton Decorative supplied the label.

“The MuCell process brings a compelling value proposition of material reduction for packaging companies, and our technology will improve the sustainability of any product, which adds significant value for brand owners,” said Steve Braig, President and CEO of Trexel.

Shanna Moore, programme leader, DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers said, “The DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation is an opportunity to showcase the value of packaging and celebrate the power of collaboration in bringing innovative ideas to market. The Paccor Margarine Tub embodies that spirit."

According to Trexel, thinner walls are possible with MuCell versus a solid moulded part and an additional material reduction is achieved from the foaming of the actual moulded container: 13% total weight reduction verses a solid molded product. 13% less base container material results in direct savings of 13% material / cost to the converter. Additional tax savings are also realised in the EU due to lower consumption of packaging material. Finally, MuCell moulding reduces injection molding machine tonnage by 30%, providing 4-5% less energy consumption.

While Standard IML labelled products feature the ability to incorporate a wide variety of graphics including faux 3D effects through the printing process, the extreme conditions in the mould, including 270ºC melt temperatures and the 20,000 psi injection pressures required, would have compressed and destroyed any true 3 D graphics incorporated in the label prior to moulding.

The Paccor margarine tub combines the MuCell process with a unique label construction, which incorporates selective masking to create areas without adhesion to the moulded substrate. On moulding, the nitrogen used as the physical foaming agent in the MuCell process creates a microcellular structure in the polymer. Incorporated in the molded part is a level of excess nitrogen that then migrates out of the part.

Where there is adhesion between the label and polymer, the nitrogen migrates through both structures as in all other IML applications with MuCell technology. Where there is no adhesion by design, the nitrogen accumulates between the polymer substrate and label causing the label to bulge. By creating patterns on the back of the film with masking layers, the deformation of the label can be matched to text as in the above or to other design features. This has the effect of creating a true 3-dimensional graphic effect through IML. MuCell technology 3-D IML enhances the brand visual presentation including a unique soft touch effect while manufactured at 13% less weight. The 3D effect can be applied for any chosen artwork, including Braille text, according to Trexel, also citing its moulding process, which also allows the container to have thinner walls and thicker sealing surface (filling patterns from thinnest section (bottom) to thickest section (sealing surface), thin to thick filling. Sealing surface rigidity is required during foil application and lid assembly.


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