One of many new technologies introduced at PACK EXPO International 2014, held November 2-5 in Chicago, was Grupo Phoenix’s U10Seal, a technology that allows the flexible seal on a cup to have a built-in utensil.
According to Stephen Robert, sales representative for Grupo Phoenix, “Using the U10Seal, the brand owner has to buy only one item and apply one thing,” thanks to the in-molding labeling (IML) process that allows the polypropylene lid to have the built-in utensil.
“The spoon is attached to the inside of the ring. Holding the ring and spoon together is a very small bridge through which the molten plastic flows,” he says. “So think of the ring and spoon as one molded item, but held together by a breakable [frangible] link as you would see in a model car kit.” The result is a molded ring sealed with a built-in spoon, fork or knife that can be peeled off.
“And, because the label was in the mold before it was closed and shot, the ring and utensil are attached to the label, which is semi-fused to the plastic,” Robert adds.
Cold ultrasonic welding seals the lid onto the cup, reducing energy consumption, eliminating a source of heat and contributing to the overall reduction in HVAC load. Additionally, with the entire package made of polypropylene, all the components are recyclable, so the solution is sustainable as well as convenient.
With an attached spoon, this packaging would be ideal for dry cereal, yogurt or even macaroni and cheese dinners, among other on-the-go foods, according to Robert. Also, a brand can attach a plastic knife to a cup containing a spreadable item, such as peanut butter or dip. If a clear film is selected for the lid material, customers can see the inclusion of a utensil, adding value to their purchase.
Since IML allows the entire container to be created from start to finish without separating the molding, printing and labeling, the U10Seal can be printed with a brand’s custom graphics. And, because the lid is not made of foil, the product may pass through metal detection to address food safety requirements. In addition, the effect on the total height of the package due to the added utensil is negligible and, thus, adds no complications to secondary packaging or stackability on retail shelves.