Even though the use of reclosable food packaging continues to grow, some companies have not seriously considered making the change from a traditionally sealed package due to the perceived high cost. In the past, adding a reclosable feature to a packaging line required a significant capital expenditure, an investment some deemed too risky. Now, a new option is available for these companies—pre-applied zipper film—which is used on the same packaging equipment as other flexible roll stock.
“Beginning to package using pre-applied zipper film requires only a few adjustments to existing equipment, and you’re ready to run,” says Dan Donahue, president of Donahue-Corry Associates, Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in flexible packaging.
However, pre-applied zipper film is not without its challenges. Using it costs more, due to the zipper component in the film. Also, the zippers add bulk, so the film does not roll as tightly as standard roll stock, leading to a lower roll density and fewer impressions per roll. Donahue estimates a roll of pre-applied zipper film has about a third as many impressions as a comparable roll of laminated or unlaminated roll stock.
“Plus, when expiring rolls are replaced by hand, as is customary, changes can take as long as three to five minutes,” says Chris Graff, vice president of sales and marketing at Massachusetts-based Butler Automatic. “If the rolls are changed, say, once every 20 minutes, that time adds up—over an hour and a half of production time lost in an eight-hour shift on a single line.”
But, Butler Automatic zero-speed automatic splicing technology helps eliminate this problem by automatically and precisely timing splices, so more of the roll is utilized, reducing the amount of wasted film and cutting the splicing time down to seconds.
Plus, the splicer automatically aligns the path of the film through the machine to compensate for web misalignment. And, since the splice might not hold if it occurs on or too near a zipper, the splicer automatically initiates splicing only within predetermined distances to register marks.