Steam sterilizable packaging films with excellent barrier properties

Packaging films are ubiquitous, yet their importance and sophistication are often overlooked by consumers. In order to ensure the quality of the purchased product inside, packaging films are optimized for the respective packaged goods, and often include coatings to preserve freshness and purity and to extend shelf-life. With packaging industry trends and consumer preferences constantly evolving, the opportunities for innovation in packaging films are tremendous.

For example, scientists at Fraunhofer FEP working with Applied Materials developed a process for depositing an ultra-thin aluminum oxide layer with a thickness of < 100 nanometers (typically 10 – 15 nm).

„In contrast to conventional production methods, we have extended the process by a further component: the alumina is vacuum deposited with the support of an intense plasma, so that a much more robust, significantly more dense, and way more solid layer is formed compared with using a low intensity plasma,“ explains Steffen Straach, group leader in the department “Flat and Flexible Products” at Fraunhofer FEP. „This is of particular relevance for further processing of the packaging materials.“

The ultra-thin aluminum oxide layers deliver reliable protection, for example in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or delicate foods against humidity, gases and other environmental influences. Furthermore, they provide maximum transparency. They have a very high barrier effect against oxygen and water vapor, so packaged goods survive even longer storage and transport times, and can withstand superheated steam sterilization.

The high deposition rate of the new process developed by Fraunhofer FEP for roll-to-roll coating systems enables the efficient production of competitive packaging films.

„Working with Fraunhofer FEP to commercialize innovative processes for the packaging industry is a great example of what joint research efforts can achieve,“ said Daniel P. Forster, vice president and general manager, Applied Materials Roll-to-Roll Coating Products Division. „There is a growing market for improved quality packaging and Applied is the well-established leader in roll-to-roll systems to enable high-volume production of advanced transparent barrier films.“

Fraunhofer FEP and Applied Materials jointly succeeded in integrating this process into a metallization system for industrial mass production. Several Applied TopMet® CLEAR systems with coating widths up to 2.85 m have been delivered. The Applied TopMet® CLEAR system provides the latest production solutions for the packaging industry. Its robust patented evaporator boat design, winding system and in-line control system for layer thickness monitoring generate uniform AlOX layers with higher barrier performance and higher transparency.

Fraunhofer FEP at AIMCAL 2016
Talks

Monday, May 30
Session: Coating and Laminating Short Course
13:30 – 17:00, Location: Bellevue I
Permeation Barriers
Oliver Miesbauer, Fraunhofer IVV / Dr. rer. nat. John Fahlteich, Fraunhofer FEP

Tuesday, May 31
Track: Web Coating and Web Handling,
Session: Web Surface / Barrier
14:30 – 15:00, Location: Bellevue I
Surface modification of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and oxide coated PET for adhesion improvement
Juliane Fichtner, Fraunhofer FEP

Track: Vacuum
Session: Sputtering, Coating Equipment, Inline control
16:00 – 16:30, Location: Bellevue II
Adapted particle bombardment during layer growth by pulse magnetron sputtering
Dr. rer. nat. Daniel Glöß, Fraunhofer FEP

Wednesday, June 1
Track: Vacuum
Session: Pretreatment, Substrate Film, Simulation
10:30 – 11:00, Location: Bellevue II
Vacuum plasma treatment and coating of fluoropolymer webs – challenges and applications
M.Eng. Cindy Steiner, Fraunhofer FEP

Thursday, June 2
Track: Vacuum
Session: New Applications, Emerging Technologies, Capacitors, Photovoltaic
8:30 – 9:00, Location: Bellevue II
New vacuum coating technologies for metal strips and foils
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Christoph Metzner, Fraunhofer FEP

10:30 – 11:00, Location: Bellevue II
Present status of Roll-to-Roll Fabrication for OLED lighting
Michael Stanel, Fraunhofer FEP
Applied Materilas and TopMet are registered trademarks of Applied Materials, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All rights reserved.

Labtour
We will provide information on „Thin film technology for battery applications“ and „Transparent layers for autoclavable packaging“ at the Applied Materials booth during a Labtour at Fraunhofer FEP. The tour will include the following coating lines: MAXI (inline vacuum coating for metal plates and strip), coFlex® 600 (roll-to-roll pilot coating plant), novoFlex® 600 (roll-to-roll pilot coating plant), and a roll-to-roll OLED deposition line.

Press contact:

Annett Arnold
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP | Phone +49 351 2586 452 | Annett.Arnold@fep.fraunhofer.de
Winterbergstraße 28 | 01277 Dresden | Germany | www.fep.fraunhofer.de

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