We see eBeam technology as the next big thing in flexible packaging production.
First, let’s examine eBeam curing and the benefits and challenges of this revolutionary, albeit not entirely new, technology.
EBeam is a process of surface curing inks with a beam of high energy. EBeam, or EB, technology uses accelerated electrons to break chemical bonds and initiate a chemical reaction to bond the molecules together and cure instantly.
With eBeam curing, flexible packaging converters can expect a uniform instantaneous cure that ensures quicker speed to market, while also maintaining high durability and scratch resistance. The low energy from eBeam makes it ideal for heat-sensitive films.
While eBeam is only just starting to make inroads in flexible packaging production, it is not entirely new. It’s commonly been used in the aerospace, medical, and automotive industries and even for surface sterilization. EB has more recently started to gain traction in the packaging space as manufacturers and major CPG brands see the benefits of an instant cure and food-safe applications.
In label and packaging production, eBeam is often compared to more traditional methods, like UV curing. But there’s one major difference: photoinitiators. While UV curing involves photoinitiators to cure the inks when exposed to UV lamps, EB, on the other hand, does not, which makes the process ideal for anyone creating packaging for food, pharmaceutical or any industry where ink migration and photoinitiators are a concern.
Large food producers and brands are also taking note of the benefits of eBeam in flexible packaging. PepsiCo made a splash when it said it was exploring the curing method for its flexible packaging products.
In an article in UV+EV Technology magazine, Todd Fayne, PepsiCo’s principal engineer and associate director of global snacks R&D, said: “Under perfect conditions, UV technology can produce safe packaging for direct food. However, using an electron to initiate cross-linking is more consistent and easier to control.”
Additionally, with EB curing, Fayne said, “there also are much higher levels of cross-linking that ensure lower migration of acrylate monomers. These higher levels provide an extra safety factor for direct-food applications.”
The challenge with any technology is price. All capital equipment decisions come with cost, and further saturation into the flexible packaging market will drive down the price of eBeam machines in the long run. There’s hardly a brand selling in today’s market that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity for an extra layer of safety and more consistent control, but it still might take some time for other brands like PepsiCo to join in on this technology revolution.
Visit our website for more details on eBeam technology and S-OneLP’s CatPak™ system.