Keith Barnes, Chairman The Packaging Society, looks back at recent packaging shows and exhibitions and what we can learn from them
Now the exhibition season is more than half way through, it’s a good time to take stock.
Packaging activity is still moving forward at a terrific pace, with many new seminars and conferences on offer and it can be confusing when deciding which will be of most benefit , at the expense of being absent from a hard-pressed packaging section for a day or two.
I must admit I always find something of use on every occasion. I believe you can never learn too much. The highlight of the autumn for me has to be the innovation fair, Packaging Innovations, now settled in Olympia and open to expansion. From my own stand at the Packaging Society, I found it encouraging that so many people came forward with questions or to view the 2015 Starpack winners.
A few weeks earlier at the Speciality Foods fair, it was interesting to see the growth in the use of stand-up pouches, a trend I forecast a few years ago. Machinery has also kept in step and, as an example, reclosure zips can now be incorporated as part of the pouch manufacture.
We then move on to the NEC and the PPMA machinery show. It is always essential to see how this is progressing. Machinery is afterall an integral part of the packaging mix and packtechs should keep up to date. Also at the NEC, I visited the TCT exhibition. I have been attending there for the past two years and it is fascinating to see how much 3D printing has advanced. This year there were more higher level printers shown, no doubt owing to the increased demand and more base materials available. However there are still plenty of the budget price machines that we may well have in our homes in the future. I see there is now 4D printing which includes the element of time. It is still in the early days of development but will produce products from the printer after removal that can change shape to create the result planned when exposed to certain stimuli.
This is all clever stuff and brings me to the British Inventors show held annually at the Barbican, London in late October. Here anything goes with inventions of all products and conditions, with exhibitors from Malaysia, Croatia, Poland and Iran as well as the UK.
Not all exhibits refer to packaging but one really stands out for me. A couple of years ago I saw a new approach using Tri-wall corrugated to create a collapsible table of considerable strength. This year the designer produced ‘Move it’, a well-designed product that will stick onto the base of a bin or box, creating a roller of enormous strength and completely recyclable. I can see this becoming popular for large packs and transit bins in factories. Another use of packaging seen there was a ‘horse shoe’ shaped blow-moulded plastic bottle for drinking on the run. It slips around the wrist and stops the need to carry the bottle.
Reverting to luxury packaging I am interested to see the latest glass offering in the drinks arena. First an expensive top level whisky using Baccarat crystalware for the bottle and next a Mexican Tequila producer using the services of Lalique for a high end crystalware designed bottle. Digging back in the archives I found that Heineken created a square bottle with the aim of it’s afteruse as a brick. It did not take off.
These are just a few examples of the exciting career packaging can provide.