VTT mouldable paperboard technology enables the replacement of plastics in deep-drawn products: renewable raw materials, excellent stiffness and recyclability.
Replacing plastics with wood fibre-based materials makes packaging more sustainable. Our technology enables production of 20mm deep trays typically used in cheese and cold cuts packaging today. The next step towards 40 mm deep cups is already taken in the laboratory.
Enabled by the deep understanding of natural sciences
VTT’s progreess in creating the mouldable web concept has welled from the deep understanding of paper physics and fibre chemistry. Mouldable web, a fibre network comprising selection of fibres and thermoplastic polymers, is an extremely complex system when developing and controlling the relevant features from the final application point of view. Elongation greater than 20% has been reached by the means of understanding the fibre network behaviour as well as selecting and modifying the raw materials accordingly. Simultaneously with the technology development tasks, scientists have bared in mind product safety, economic feasibility and other expectations introduced by the numerous stakeholders within the packaging value network.
Testing and developing the ideas – from laboratory to pilot facilities
VTT has been utilizing the wide competence of natural sciences for the benefit of mouldable web topics since 2011. Projects have been funded by EU and the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes. During the last three years the loop from laboratory sheet forming and coating facilities to VTT’s pilot facilities has been closed several times and important lessons have been learned. Foam forming has proven to be an extremely beneficial manufacturing method also in this context. The massive amount of experimental data and practical experience gathered has created an excellent basis for developing the mouldable web concept further especially for the needs of the food and pharaceutical packaging sector.
Combining natural fibres with thermoplastic polymers have encouraged the utilization of raw materials and research platforms in unconventional ways. One example would be the wide variety of coating liquids trialled on VTT’s surface and coating treatment line SUTCO. Also the need for high basis weight webs has broadened the offering of the pilot foam forming facilities.