End-to-End Innovations - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

End-to-End Innovations
Integrated lines, flexible machines, and high-barrier materials enhance packaging options.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 33, Issue 3, pp. 52-58


Pack Expo International also featured several materials of interest to pharmaceutical packagers. A new family of high-barrier metallized polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films serves as a low-cost, lightweight alternative to foil laminations. A 36-gauge metallized PET can replace a 48-gauge foil lamination, which could be expensive and complex. The metallized film bolsters source-reduction efforts by eliminating the need for a sealant layer. Resistant to delamination and compatible with hard-to-hold products, the thin, multilayer films offer oxygen-transmission rates ranging from < 0.01 to 0.15 cm3/100 in.2/day and water-vapor transmission rates ranging from 0.03 to 0.15 g/100 in.2/day ("LumLife MK" PET film, Toray Plastics America, North Kingstown, RI).

Another potential foil replacement is a clear film that offers a strong barrier to oxygen and moisture. The product combines an polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) fluoropolymer layer and a polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) coating. The four-layer polyvinyl chloride (PVC)–PVDC–PCTFE–PVC structure is designed for the most sensitive pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Because PVC is the contact layer, the film does not require special tooling on form–fill–seal equipment. Also available in an opaque version, the film exhibits excellent lay-flat characteristics ("Pentapharm kpMax" films, Klöckner Pentaplast Group, Gordonsville, VA).

A new solvent-free foil lamination designed especially for pharmaceutical overwrap applications is an extrusion-coated 48-gauge PET–low-density polyethylene–35-gauge foil–metallocene PE structure. Despite a significantly thinner sealant layer than competing materials, the metallocene PE forms stronger weld seals at speeds higher than 100 ft/min. Typical applications include secondary packaging for blow–fill–seal unit-dose containers for inhalation therapy or diagnostic kits. Reverse- or surface-printed white or natural foil structure can be supplied in rollstock form or as premade pouches or die-cut lids ("Triad" foil lamination, Rollprint Packaging Products, Addison, IL).

Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's Packaging Forum editor, 4708 Morningside Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109, tel. 216.351.5824, fax 216.351.5684,


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