This year's INTERPHEX show, held April 24–26 at the Javits Center in New York, provided an opportunity to see new packaging materials, containers, and machines firsthand. In addition to the usual wide range of anticounterfeiting and quality-control solutions, this year's show emphasized barrier packaging and child resistance. On the machinery side, the theme was line efficiency.
A multitude of overt and covert tools help authenticate products and prevent counterfeits from reaching consumers. New tools include ink technology that allows color to reappear when rubbed or scratched. ("Secur" labels, Ad Tape & Label, Menomonee Falls, WI).
A compact 49 × 23 × 24-in. system based on energy-dispersive X-ray diffraction technology and material-recognition software confirms product authenticity by reading its molecular fingerprint. The material-identification system handles 0.5 × 3-in., 1 × 3-in., and 2 × 3-in. container sizes and stores 5000 sample records. The operator simply places the container in the chamber, presses the start button, and views the results on the display screen about 15 min later. Potential applications include checking finished goods at pharmacies, wholesaler or distributor warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. A manufacturer also could use the system as part of its raw materials and in-process quality-control effort ("XT250" material-identification system, Xstream Systems, Vero Beach, FL).
Another technology with anticounterfeiting potential is radio-frequency identification (RFID). RFID tags can help authenticate products and support data collection for pedigree records. Equipment that encodes and prints tag-equipped labels verifies the tag before and after encoding. If a nonviable tag is detected before encoding, the label is marked with a checkerboard pattern and ejected. Good labels are encoded and rechecked. If tags read properly, labels are printed and their bar codes are verified. If the bar code doesn't scan correctly, the unit pulls the label back in, imprints it with a checkerboard pattern, ejects it, and encodes and prints a new label ("Smartline SL4M RFID" printer, Printronix Inc., Irvine, CA). For automated applications, an encode, print, and apply unit is available. It performs all the checks of the RFID printer and applies the labels at a maximum rate of 100/min ("Smartline SLPA8000" label printer applicator, Printronix).
"Perlalux-Identity" film uses holographic stripes on the tablet side of the blister package to support brand identity and discourage counterfeiting.
At least one label converter can incorporate ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) or high-frequency (HF) RFID inlays in multipanel labels to support product security, inventory control, and track-and-trace functions ("InfoPac label," Tursso Companies, St. Paul, MN).
RFID tags also can be built into injection-molded high-density polyethylene containers, providing visibility to bright or unlabeled stock and eliminating the need to encode and apply fragile smart labels. Embedded tags are tamper-evident and tamper-resistant and rely on a difficult-to-duplicate manufacturing process. Positioning in the base of the container eliminates tag-to-tag contact and ensures consistent orientation. Tag-equipped containers can be supplied encoded or be encoded on-line during the filling process. Pretesting ensures the UHF or HF tag inside the container is viable at a Six Sigma quality level.