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Interactive food labels: Are they the future?

By Jenny EAGLE , 08-Aug-2013

Arjowiggins Creative Papers wins an award for its Powercoat
Arjowiggins Creative Papers wins an award for its Powercoat

Arjowiggins Creative Papers has won an award for creating paper which can insert an interactive circuit board into its design, for use in the food industry.

PowerCoat is a sustainable substrate with polymer-like smoothness (as low as 10 nanometers), which can integrate electronic devices into graphics, from embedded RFID tags to condition-sensitive sell-by dates on fresh produce.

The company recently won an Innovative Excellence Intertech Technology Award from the Printing Industries of America for technology predicted to have a major impact on the graphic arts and related industries. 

Jose-Anne d'Auvergne, brand manager, Arjowiggins Creative Papers said traditionally, packaging was used to protect products during transport and handling and to make them visibly attractive in store while carrying information about the product on the label.

A market ‘dominated’ by plastics

Packaging has by no means changed, but today, printed electronics technology is making it possible to maximize the impact of it by making it “intelligent” and adaptable,” she added.

Powercoat addresses the cost, efficiency and sustainability concerns as well as other technical shortcomings of existing substrates used today in printed electronics.

In a market dominated by plastics, the company has succeeded in introducing a paper-based substrate that outperforms even some of the best plastics.”

D'Auvergne said the benefits of intelligent packaging are two-fold: consumers can benefit from useful interactive features, while the manufacturer receives information on product performance and keeps track of stock or information relating to shipping costs.

She added the innovation of the substrate lies in its composition as well as in the coating process. The latter enhances adhesion properties as well as the smoothness of the surface of the substrate, making it a viable alternative to conventional polymer-based substrates.

Uses less ink

It does not contain any plastic and is recyclable and biodegradable.  

The optimized smoothness of this substrate makes it possible to realize high-resolution printing of fine patterns with fewer registration issues and uses much less ink (as much as 8 -10 times less), which reduces overall production costs,” said d'Auvergne. 

It can endure a sintering cycle set at 200°C for five minutes without any noticeable change in physical characteristics.”

Electronic components can be realised using techniques such as gravure, inkjet and screen printing, as well as laser lithography.

Upcoming shows

When conventional papers are printed with conductive inks, the ink is too easily absorbed; surface roughness leads to low resolution patterns; it adds to yellowing and colour fading and can alter physical characteristics of certain substrates, which can occur during sintering (the process which fuses conductive inks to the substrate).

The paper is currently available to pre-order and Arjowiggins Creative Papers will be exhibiting at Label Expo, from September 24-27 in Brussels, FachPack, from September 24-26 in Nuremberg, Germany, Luxe Pack, from October 23-25 in Monaco and PE USA 2013, from November 20-21 in Silicon Valley, US.

The Printing Industries of America awards are on September 8, at the Marriott Chicago Downtown, Chicago, Illinois.

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