EP2571782B1 - Easy open flexible film packaging products and methods of manufacture - Google Patents

Easy open flexible film packaging products and methods of manufacture Download PDF

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Publication number
EP2571782B1
EP2571782B1 EP20110722266 EP11722266A EP2571782B1 EP 2571782 B1 EP2571782 B1 EP 2571782B1 EP 20110722266 EP20110722266 EP 20110722266 EP 11722266 A EP11722266 A EP 11722266A EP 2571782 B1 EP2571782 B1 EP 2571782B1
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EP
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Grant
Patent type
Prior art keywords
score
package
film
flexible film
seal
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Active
Application number
EP20110722266
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
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EP2571782A1 (en )
Inventor
Deborah A. Lyzenga
Jeffrey T. Weber
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Intercontinental Great Brands LLC
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Intercontinental Great Brands LLC
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Publication date
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D33/00Details of, or accessories for, sacks or bags
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B61/00Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on sheets, blanks, webs, binding material, containers or packages
    • B65B61/02Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on sheets, blanks, webs, binding material, containers or packages for perforating, scoring, slitting, or applying code or date marks on material prior to packaging
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B61/00Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on sheets, blanks, webs, binding material, containers or packages
    • B65B61/18Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on sheets, blanks, webs, binding material, containers or packages for making package-opening or unpacking elements
    • B65B61/184Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on sheets, blanks, webs, binding material, containers or packages for making package-opening or unpacking elements by applying tabs over discharge openings, e.g. over discharge openings defined by tear or score lines
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B9/00Enclosing successive articles, or quantities of material, e.g. liquids or semiliquids, in flat, folded, or tubular webs of flexible sheet material; Subdividing filled flexible tubes to form packages
    • B65B9/06Enclosing successive articles, or quantities of material, in a longitudinally-folded web, or in a web folded into a tube about the articles or quantities of material placed upon it
    • B65B9/067Enclosing successive articles, or quantities of material, in a longitudinally-folded web, or in a web folded into a tube about the articles or quantities of material placed upon it the web advancing continuously
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B9/00Enclosing successive articles, or quantities of material, e.g. liquids or semiliquids, in flat, folded, or tubular webs of flexible sheet material; Subdividing filled flexible tubes to form packages
    • B65B9/10Enclosing successive articles, or quantities of material, in preformed tubular webs, or in webs formed into tubes around filling nozzles, e.g. extruded tubular webs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D75/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes, or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D75/52Details
    • B65D75/58Opening or contents-removing devices added or incorporated during package manufacture
    • B65D75/5827Tear-lines provided in a wall portion
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D75/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes, or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D75/52Details
    • B65D75/58Opening or contents-removing devices added or incorporated during package manufacture
    • B65D75/5827Tear-lines provided in a wall portion
    • B65D75/5833Tear-lines provided in a wall portion for tearing out a portion of the wall
    • B65D75/5838Tear-lines provided in a wall portion for tearing out a portion of the wall combined with separate fixed tearing means, e.g. tabs
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/15Sheet, web, or layer weakened to permit separation through thickness

Description

    Technical Field
  • This disclosure relates generally to flexible packaging and, in particular, to flexible packaging having a reclosable opening.
  • Background
  • Flexible packaging is often used to retain products for shipping and storage. It is commonly used for food products, such as crackers, chewing gum, chocolate, cookies, cheese, sandwiches, biscuits, candy, meat products, dried fruits and vegetables, and the like. Often, the package shape takes on the shape of the contained products or it may take on the shape of structural supports, such as a frame or tray within the package. A reclose feature may be included on a flexible package to provide users with an easy, efficient manner of retaining some of the product for a later consumption.
  • One approach for a flexible film package is to form it from a continuous web of material. These 'flow-wrap' type packages (also known as horizontal or vertical fin-seal or lap-seal wrap, end-seal wrap, horizontal bagging and pillow-pouch packages) can be made from a variety of webbing material and laminates to envelop and seal product during assembly.
  • Some known package designs also can require excessive material to facilitate production on various manufacturing equipment and/or consumer specifications. For example, applying labels having a label backing removed as part of the manufacturing process can result in unnecessary waste.
  • Documents US 5 161 350 and WO 01/40073 A1 disclose packages having the features recited in the preamble of claim 1.
  • Summary
  • Accordingly, provided herein are easy open and reclosable flexible film packages. The flexible film packages can have an initial seal against ambient atmosphere (e.g., a gas/oxygen and moisture barrier) for extended periods of time and have a closure layer (e.g., a label laminated to the film by a pressure sensitive adhesive) above a score (tear) line in the flow-wrap film. The score can define an opening in the film or can be configured to propagate film tear to create a package opening. The embodiments can be easily opened and tacked close to retain product after initial opening, while maintaining package integrity.
  • One approach provides a package having a flexible film defining an interior contents cavity and having a first pair of opposing edge portions forming a first end seal, a second pair of opposing edge portions forming a second end seal, and a third pair of opposing edge portions forming a longitudinal fin seal extending from the first end seal to the second end seal; the body having a first side portion having the longitudinal fin seal and a second side portion generally opposite the first side portion, the second side portion having a longitudinal axis of symmetry; a score formed in the flexible film at the second side portion and defining an opening to the contents cavity upon initial rupturing and configured to propagate film tear longitudinally towards the second end-seal; a closure label covering at least portion of the score, but less than the entire score, and the closure label covering a portion of the longitudinal axis; and a pressure sensitive adhesive being between the closure layer and the flexible film.
  • In one approach, the pressure sensitive adhesive can have a predetermined affinity between the closure layer and the flexible film such that the score ruptures upon removal of the closure layer from a portion of the second side portion.
  • In one approach, the score can be closer to the first end seal than the second end seal. The score can be score is arcuate, including one embodiment where the arcuate score faces the second end seal. The score can also be rectilinear, pointed, and the like. In some packages, the score can include a pair of terminal ends configured to resist further rupturing of the flexible film. In one approach, the terminal ends can be configured as hooks. In another approach, the score can be a pair of parallel score lines extending from the arcuate leading edge beyond the closure layer.
  • In one approach, the closure layer can include a tack free gripping portion to remove the closure layer from at least a portion of the second side. The tack free gripping portion can be an arcuate leading edge.
  • In another approach, the closure layer can extend beyond the score to cover sufficient marginal space around the score to effectively tack close the opening once the score has ruptured.
  • The packages can use a flexible film that has a laminate structure. The laminate film structure can be a co-extruded film structure. In one approach, the flexible film can include a laminate of polyethylene terephthalate and oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.5 to 2.5 mils). In another approach, the flexible film can be a laminate of polyethylene terephthalate having a thickness in the range of about 10.16µm to 25.4µm (0.4 to 1.0 mil and oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 15.24µm to 30.48µm (0.6 to 1.2 mils).
  • In some packages, the closure layer can be a bi-axially oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 30.48µm to 127µm (1.2 mil to 5 mil).
  • Laminates for the producing a flexible package can include a continuous web of flexible film having a width and a longitudinal axis of symmetry; a discrete closure label applied to at most half of the width of the continuous web of flexible film and along the longitudinal axis with pressure sensitive adhesive; and the continuous web and the discrete closure label configured to be formed into a series of identical package forming blanks, the flexible film of each identical package forming blank having a score formed therein that coincides with at least a portion of the closure label, but not within all of the closure label, and that subsequently forms a package opening (44) when ruptured. In one approach, the closure labal can be a bi-axially oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 30.48µm to 127µm (1.2 mil to 5 mil); and the continuous film is laminate in a range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.5 to 2.5 mils) having a polyethylene terephthalate layer and an oriented polypropylene layer. In another approach, the film laminate can include ink and primer layer disposed between the polyethylene terephthalate layer and oriented polypropylene layer.
  • Methods for in-line packaging of products in a series of packages can include the steps of: merging a closure layer to a continuous film web having longitudinal edges spaced a predetermined width and a longitudinal axis of symmetry, the closure label merged along the longitudinal axis; providing adhesive between the closure label and the continuous film web across less than the predetermined width but more than half of the predetermined width; scoring the continuous film web corresponding partially to the closure label to define an opening in the continuous film web upon initial rupturing caused by removing the closure label from the film web wherein the closure label covers a portion of the score line but less than the entire score line; forming a longitudinal seal along the longitudinal edges; forming a trailing end seal between adjacent packages of a series; providing products in a series to be packaged; and forming a leading end seal.
  • Other features will become more apparent to persons having ordinary skill in the art to which the package pertains and from the following description and claims.
  • Brief Description of the Drawings
    • Fig. 1 is a perspective top view of an exemplary flexible film package not covered by the claims;
    • Fig. 2 is a perspective top view of a second exemplary flexible film package according to the present invention;
    • Fig. 3 is a perspective top view of a third exemplary flexible film package according to the present invention;
    • Fig. 4 is a perspective top view of the third exemplary flexible film package in an opened position;
    • Fig. 5 is a top view of an exemplary flexible film package not covered by the claims;
    • Fig. 6 is a partial side view of a assembly process to form and package a series of flexible film packages;
    • Fig. 7 is a sectional view of an exemplary fin-seal jaw of Fig. 6 taken along section lines A-A;
    • Fig. 8 is a perspective top view of a fourth exemplary easy open flexible film package not covered by the claims;
    • Fig. 9 is a portion of a roll of blanks for use in forming a flexible film package according to the present invention;
    • Fig. 10 is a sectional view of an exemplary film/label laminate taken along section lines X-X in Fig. 9;
    • Figs. 11 - 16 illustrate alternate score line embodiments for a flexible film package according to the present invention;
    • Figs. 17 - 20 illustrate alternate closure layer embodiments for a flexible film package according to the present invention; and
    • Fig. 21 is a perspective bottom view of an exemplary flexible film package according to the present invention.
    Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments
  • Despite the advantages of flexible film packaging, these types of packages are sometimes difficult for consumers to open. Further, these packages often contain various amount of food product and a consumer may not want to consume the entire contents at one time. Therefore, a reclose (or tack close) feature can be included to provide users with an easy, efficient manner of containing some of the food product for a later time.
  • Generally, the present embodiments illustrate a cost efficient and easy open feature for consumers to obtain full product access while providing a tack close feature for product containment not consumed after initial opening. The package also can facilitate one handed consumption. Pursuant to various embodiments, flexible film packages and methods of producing such packages are provided herein that may have at least a partial, initial seal against ambient atmosphere and are easily openable and reclosable. More particularly, the initial seal, which is present prior to initial opening of the flexible film package, may provide at least a partial barrier against ambient atmosphere including gas and moisture for an extended period of time. For example, the initial seal of the flexible film package may provide a light barrier and also a gas (oxygen) and moisture barrier for at least 6 to 8 months prior to initial opening. In some applications, a gas and moisture barrier may be desired for even longer periods of time prior to initial opening.
  • Further, the flexible film packages can generally be reclosable for product containment subsequent to initial opening of the package. While the present disclosure is described for food product applications, it also can be applied to non-food, medical, pharmaceutical, industrial packaging applications, and the like. In one approach, the flexible film package is generally configured to accommodate multiple servings of a food product. Thus, the reclosing characteristics of the flexible film package help retain/contain product within the package subsequent to initial opening.
  • The flexible film packages may have a variety of configurations, including, for example, a bag, a pouch, or other shapes, such as a cylindrical shape, a column shape, or a generally rectangular shape, among others. The flexible film package may have squared edges, such as those found on a primarily rectangular-shaped package or may have more curvilinear-shaped edges, such as those found on more circular or ovoid-shaped packages. Further, the flexible film package may be formed around the food product, such as a package having a sleeve configuration that is wrapped around a discrete stack or stacks of food products. In other applications, the flexible film packages may be fully or partially formed and then filled with the food products, which may be helpful for various discrete food products.
  • By one approach, the package configuration and shape may be primarily influenced by the products contained within the package, in part, due to the flexibility of the laminate film. In another configuration, the flexible film may be configured as a flow-wrap or overwrap around a support structure, such as an internal rigid support or product tray, preferably a "U" board, though this is not required to practice the embodiments.
  • As used herein, the flexible film may be a flexible sheet of material rolled or formed as a blank and made of a laminate or co-extruded film structures, with cast or blown film layers and the like. By one approach, the flexible film may include a laminate having several thin layers of material. The laminate structure may include a polyethylene or polypropylene, such as a polyethylene terephtalate (PET) layer and/or an oriented polypropylene (OPP) layer. Other optional laminate layers may include a polyethylene (PE) layer, a polypropylene (PP) layer, a polylactic acid (PLA) layer, and a metalized layer, such as a metalized oriented polypropylene (MET OPP) layer, to note but a few options. These different layers may have a variety of thicknesses and densities. Furthermore, the flexible film may be a combination of several of the above-mentioned film structures. By another approach, the film may include a single layer polymer. The components of the flexible film laminate may be joined by adhesives or by extrusion processes.
  • If a PET layer is used in the flexible film laminate, the PET layer may impact the rigidity of the laminate. More particularly, the PET layer may have different degrees of stiffness from flexible to semi-rigid, depending on the thickness of the PET layer. A PET layer may be incorporated into the laminate because it is relatively lightweight and strong and can have a high transparency if desired. The PET layer also may be useful as an oxygen (gas) and moisture barrier. In addition, an OPP layer also may further strengthen the flexible film and also provide a useful barrier to permeability.
  • Flexible film packages described herein can be formed from a continuous web of material sealed in various ways. The seals can include, for example, a fin or lap seal, and a variety of ends seals (such as top, bottom, and side seals). By one approach, a flexible film can have two opposing edge portions meet to form a longitudinal seal extending from a first end seal to a second end seal. The seals can be hermetic (and also may have varying degrees of hermeticity, such as partial or substantial hermetic seals) to help retain the shelf-life of any products contained therein. The seals may be formed by a variety of processes, such as, for example, hot seal, cold seal, or low-tack seal processes, and combinations thereof and are typically considered primary seals and are oftentimes permanent or destructive seals. The flexible film package also can include peelable/reclosable seals. The seals can be formed around the package opening using, for example, a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) or low-tack adhesive (LTA) located between the flexible film and a closure layer. The reclose seal feature can be formed by a variety of manufacturing processes.
  • The flexible film may have a score that defines a package opening upon initial rupture or initial opening. The score also may be configured to define at least a portion of the package opening to define in propagation of a tear in the film and to preferably tear the film longitudinally towards the second end-seal. The term "score" as used herein may describe any type of mechanically-formed or cut score line, a laser-formed score, or any other scoring means that would compromise the integrity of the film without rupturing it (i.e., a line of weakness). A score may be disposed partially through the depth of the flexible film, or it may be a die cut through the entire depth of the film over a given line. If partially cut through the film, the score also may be formed on either side of the flexible film such that the score may be cut into the exterior or interior surface of the flexible film. In one example, the score is made into the flexible film from the interior surface of the flexible film and extends through the flexible film and substantially through the pressure sensitive adhesive. In addition, the score also may be a discontinuous line, such as a set of perforations, which also may be either partially through the depth of the flexible film or completely through the entire depth of the flexible film.
  • In one illustrative package, a closure layer (such as a discrete label) can extend over at least part of a score line and within the opposing edge portions that meet to form the longitudinal seal. A pressure sensitive adhesive may be located between the flexible film and the closure layer. The closure layer may have a tack-free gripping portion (e.g., a peel tab) used to release at least a portion of the closure from the flexible film to form the package opening. The closure layer preferably extends over at least a portion of the score and is reclosably adhered to the film.
  • By one approach, the closure layer is disposed upon a portion of the flexible film over at least part of the score. The closure layer may comprise a label, such as a label with a backing, a release liner or a linerless label prior to application to the package. In another configuration, the closure layer may include a second flexible film with pressure sensitive adhesive disposed between the flexible film and the second flexible film. The pressure sensitive adhesive may be an interstitial layer to a laminated film structure such that the pressure sensitive adhesive is laminated between the flexible film and the second flexible film layers.
  • The package opening described herein is preferably reclosable for product containment. The pressure sensitive adhesive between the flexible film and the closure layer helps produce the reclose characteristics of the package opening. The pressure sensitive adhesive may be suitable for resealing in a variety of conditions, such as ambient and refrigerated conditions, to note but a few.
  • The method for producing the flexible film packages provided herein may include forming a score in a portion of a continuous web of flexible film having a longitudinal axis and applying a closure layer along a portion of the longitudinal axis with an adhesive (such as a pressure sensitive adhesive). By one approach, the closure layer may be applied over a partial width of the continuous web of flexible film. The method also may include forming a continuous longitudinal seal from two opposing edges of the continuous web of flexible material and forming a first end seal and a second end seal. The flexible packages may be formed in off-line and in-line processes with respect to the packaging of the product, and also may be formed in both horizontal and vertical form-fill-seal operations, among others.
  • A method of packaging products in a series of packages may include feeding a continuous film web having longitudinal edges and a predetermined width between the longitudinal edges. The method also may include merging/laminating a substrate with the continuous film web across less than the entire predetermined width. By one approach, the continuous film web is scored to define an opening (or at least a part of the opening) in the film web upon initial rupture once the substrate is removed from the continuous film web and an exposed adhesive, such as a pressure sensitive adhesive that provides a degree of releaseability and reclosability, is provided between the substrate and the continuous film web. If performed in-line, the method may provide products in a series for packaging, and the continuous film web and substrate may be wrapped around the products. Further, a longitudinal seal, such as a fin or lap seal, may be provided along the longitudinal edges of the continuous film web, and a leading and trailing end seals may be provided between adjacent packages of the series of packages.
  • The series of flexible packages 10 described below may be formed in-line just before the film is being wrapped around a product or may be formed off-line well before the products are packaged. For example, a laminate structure may be prepared prior to being brought to the packaging line to fill the packages with products. In another configuration, the laminate may be formed in-line with the packaging operation such that the laminate is formed around or just before the product is packaged.
  • In some embodiments, the package film generally provides a die or laser cut/score forming an arc, which is covered, at least in part, by a closure layer (label) with a pressure sensitive adhesive layer. The label can have a portion without PSA to create a pull tab that allows that package to be easily opened. In use, as the pull tab is pulled, the film separates at the score line and continues to tear in the direction of pull creating a large opening for product access. Tear propagation of the film can be stopped as the film reaches one of the primary seals. The exposed PSA on the label can be used to tack close the package to contain any remaining product. The package is suitable for a variety of products that are placed side-by-side, but also can be a short stack side-by-side. In some embodiments, slug packaging (i.e., a vertical product stack) also can be used.
  • Turning now to the Figures, there are illustrated preferred embodiments of the present flow-wrap package design generally indicated at 10, and processes for making same. Figs. 1-3, 4, 8 and 21 show package 10 formed from a film 12. FIG. 4 shows package 10 in an opened position. Film 12 can be a flexible sheet material rolled or formed as a blank and made of laminate or co-extruded film structures, with cast or blown film layers, and the like. Examples can include a single layer polymer, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polylactic acid (PLA), polyester, and the like. Generally film 12 can be between 30.48µm to 127µm (1.2 mils to 5 mils), and preferably 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.5 to 2.5 mils) in thickness. Film thickness also can be a function of the desired barrier to gas, moisture, and light; level of desired structural integrity, and the desired depth of the score line (described below).
  • Film 12 can be a heat sealable copolymer. In some embodiments, the heat sealable polymer forms a seal between 50 and 300 degrees Celsius. Film 12 also can be a pressure sealing film (e.g., a cold seal film or otherwise where no heat is needed). In some embodiments this pressure sealing film forms a seal between a pressure of about 0.7 and 7.0 Kg/cm, and preferably at about 5.6 Kg/cm.
  • Referring to Fig. 10, film 12 can preferably be a laminate, such as a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) layer 82 and an oriented polypropylene (OPP) layer 86, or optionally film 12 can be a single layer polymer. A PET layer is flexible to semirigid, depending on its thickness. PET is preferred in that it is very lightweight, strong, and can have high transparency when desired for package specifications. It also can be useful as an oxygen (gas) and moisture barrier. The OPP layer can add further strength and be a further barrier to permeability. Lamination components can be joined by adhesives or by extrusions. The PET layer can have a thickness in the range of about 10.16µm to 25.4µm (0.4 to 1.0 mil) (preferably about 12.19µm (0.48 mil)) and the OPP layer can have a thickness in the range of about 15.24µm to 30.48µm (0.6 to 1.2 mil) (preferably about 17.78µm (0.7 mil)).
  • Film 12 can optionally also have additional laminate layers. A sealant layer, such as a heat sealant layer 88 (Fig. 10) can be added to facilitate the formation of seals that enclose product during packaging. As such, the sealant layer would be oriented on the film surface directed to the interior of the package. The sealant layer can be a variety of polymer sealants, such as a heat activated polymer sealant layer like ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), ionomer plastic (such as one sold under the trade name SURLYN by DuPont), metallocene, orgaonclay, and the like. Cold sealant and pressure sealants are also possible within the scope of the presented embodiments. It is noted that food grade sealants would be used when food products are anticipated.
  • In one configuration, stiffeners are added to flexible film 12 to increase the stiffness of the film. These stiffeners may be in addition to the stiffness adjustments that can be made by changing the thicknesses or densities of the previously mentioned laminate layers. These stiffeners can be added as a component of the extruded film or as a separate layer. For example, a laminate layer, such as a polyamide polymer (e.g., nylon) may be included in the laminate film structure of flexible film web 12. By one approach, nylon may be added as a laminate layer that is held to the remainder of the film structure by an adhesive. Further, in one configuration, the nylon layer may be positioned in between other layers such that the other flexible film layers are attached on each side of the nylon layer (i.e., a tie layer). In one example, the nylon layer can comprise about 6 to 10 percent of the film thickness or about 0.004 mm. In one approach, the nylon layer comprises about 8 percent of the film thickness. By yet another approach, the nylon layer may comprise about 0.004mm thick layer.
  • Optional film layers also can include ink layers 84 (Fig. 10). For example, one specific laminate can include ink and a primer disposed between a PET 82 and OPP layer 86. Metalized layers and various combinations of laminates also are possible within the preferred embodiments.
  • As shown, film 12 is shaped to contain a single serving tray of products placed side-by-side, though the embodiments also can be practiced in various curvilinear shapes and rectilinear (sleeves), or oval packages depending on the desired product contained therein.
  • Package 10 can be formed by a scored flexible film 12 having a longitudinal seal 14 generally along adjacent sides to form a sleeve; a first leading sleeve end-seal 20 substantially transverse to the longitudinal seal at a first package end; and a second trailing sleeve end-seal 18 substantially transverse to the longitudinal seal at a second package end, the area between the first and second seal defining a package interior. Seal 14 is shown here as a fin seal (shown more clearly in Fig. 21).
  • As stated, film 12 preferably has a sealant layer 88 on an interior surface of the film. Preferably, seal 14 and end-seals 18 and 20 are non-peelable primary seals as described above. The seals of the presented embodiments can be formed by heat seal, cold seal, sonic waves, low tack seal and various combinations thereof and define a product receiving cavity.
  • Film package end-seals typically do not allow a user to open the package at the end-seal itself. The body of the package film is usually grasped then pulled to open. The flexible packages illustrated herein provide easy opening though the use of a closure layer 40. By way of example, as shown in the Figs., closure layer 40 can be a discrete label laminated to the film by a pressure sensitive adhesive. A peel tab 22 in label 40 can be provided in the present embodiments to allow opening the package without the need to grasp the body of the package. Peel tab 22 is a portion of closure layer 40 that is not laminated to the film by the PSA. As illustrated, peel tab 22 can be a radial-shaped tab, though other shapes, such as square (Fig. 17) or "V" shapes (Figs. 19-20), are possible and can provide a finger grip to initiate opening of the package.
  • The present embodiments also provide scoring as described above to the flexible packaging film 12 structure and is configured to define or direct a film opening of the package. Preferably, a score 42 is added to the side of the film directed to the interior of the package. Score lines can include a multitude of configurations to suit the packaging and product specifications but preferably are configured to at least initiate propagation of tear of the film. For example, Figs. 1-3, 8 and 11-13 show possible score 42 configurations. As shown, score line 42 can be an arc (42a), a pair of substantially parallel scores (42b). Where parallel scores are used, they are preferably less than the width of the package or the product contained therein.
  • Exposed score lines tend to propagate a continued tear in use. The present embodiments show score line configurations that terminate in patterns to reduce this tendency. Specifically, FIG. 3 shows an outwardly directed double "J" hook score line 42c, though other configurations are possible. These can include an inwardly directed double "J" hook score line 42e (Fig. 12), a "smile" terminate 42i (Fig. 13), and the like. Package integrity features 90 (Fig. 11) also can be included as part of a score line 42d. Fig. 14 shows a score line 42f having squared corners disposed under label 40. Fig. 15 shows a score line 42g having angled corners disposed under label 40. Fig. 16 shows a score line 42h having a pyramid shaped pattern disposed under label 40.
  • In the present embodiments, a label 40 can be applied to the side of film 12 directed to the outside of package 10, preferably using a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA). Label 40 preferably covers at least a portion of score lines 42 and is configured to propagate film tear longitudinally towards a second end-seal. Peel strength between package 10 surface and label 40 is greater than the force required to separate sides of score along score lines 42. As such, label 40 is peelable with respect to package 10 surface. Thus, continued pulling on tab 22 initiates rupture of score line 42, such as shown in FIG. 4. It is noted that score 42b in Fig. 2 can continue to propagate film tear until end seal 18 is reached, since end seal 18 is a primary (non-peelable) seal.
  • Closure layer (label) 40 and film 12 can be transparent, opaque or optionally printed. It is noted though that label 40 can be generally described as any film with an adhesive covering and be within the scope of the presented embodiments. It is also noted that labels with liners also can be used within the scope of the presented embodiments. Label 40 can be embodied in a variety of ways within the scope of the present flexible film packages. Additional illustrative embodiments can be found in Figs. 17 - 20. Fig. 17 shows a rectilinear label 40a. Fig. 18 shows a curvilinear label 40b. Fig. 19 shows a pyramidal label 40c. And, Fig. 20 shows a 'arrow' label 40d.
  • Linerless labels can be a facestock having a pressure sensitive adhesive coating on one side but can be rolled into a spool without a liner. This can be accomplished by a release coating applied to the side opposite the adhesive coating or in the alternative a homopolymer, such as polypropylene. Facestocks can include standard paper, film, plastic, fabric, foil, direct thermal, and the like. Linerless labels are available with removable and repositionable adhesives. Alternatively an adhesive covered flexible film can be used for label 40.
  • The label can be an oriented polypropylene (OPP), including a bi-axially OPP in the range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.2 mil to 5 mil) a preferably about 50.8µm (2 mil) or other type of semi-rigid polymer, such as PET and the like. PET is preferred because of its thermal resistance in creating a non-peelable seal. The PSA is preferably neutral or non-reactive to the product and configured to provide a substantially hermetic seal even in refrigerated conditions (i.e., the PSA is operable in a temperature range of about - 10 to 90 degrees Celsius; and preferably in the range of about 2 to 7 degrees Celsius). Preferably PSA is applied directly to the film but can be applied to ink or any other coating on the film. The PSA should remain attached to the label 40, even after repeated openings and reclosures.
  • It is noted that label 40 can be applied to cover score line 42 at least in part. As illustrated in the Figures, film 12 provides a package opening 44 defined or directed by a score line 42 to allow a user access to product 46. Score line 42 can be of various depths and widths within film 12 and can be formed by various cutting means, such as the use of a laser or die cutter. Also, the tear strength of score line 42 must be weaker than the adhesive strength of a PSA 30 to allow film to peel back with label. For illustrative purposes only, in one embodiment, PSA 30 can be configured to have an opening (separating) force of 350 gms/inch and a closing (adhering) force of 200 grams/inch. It is noted though that other opening and closing force ranges would be considered to fall within the scope of the presented package designs.
  • Preferably, score line 42 only goes through a portion of the package to not affect the barrier properties (e.g., gas or moisture) of the package. In this instance, label 40 would not need to provide the initial hermetic barrier, though optionally and inherently, it can. The optional label 40 barrier properties could result from inherent characteristic of the label material, or through an added barrier layer to label 40 (not shown). Score 42 can be cut through the exterior or interior surface of film 12, but preferably on the interior surface. It is noted that even in embodiments where score 42 can affect barrier qualities of film 12, the application of label 40 should compensate for the compromised barrier created by the score where the entire scored portion of film 12 is covered by label 40.
  • In use in the configuration of Figs. 3-4, a user can grip an unsealed inner surface 50 of a label 40 peel tab with one hand and a region on or near end-seal 20 with the other hand. The label peel tab can be peeled back rearwardly/downwardly to form opening 44 until it reaches the "J" hook shown in FIG. 4. In any event, preferably, label 40 and its attached film are not pulled off package 10 in use. In the embodiments of FIGs. 1-2 and 8, this can be achieved by a non-peelable seal on trailing end-seal 18. In these embodiments, peel tab 22 on label 40 can be used to intitate/propogate a longitudinal tear towards end-seal 18, where the film is restricted from further rupture. The parallel lines, such as 42b in FIG.2, can extend to any length up to end-seal 18. In an optional embodiment, FIG. 8 illustrates tab 22 extends into the end-seal 20. In any event, tab 22 should have non-adhesive portion 50. The adhesive may be excluded on that portion of the label, or it can be deadened in a variety of ways, such as with an ink, varnish, and the like. Alternately, tab non-adhesive portion 50 can be covered by another laminate, such as an additional polymer layer between the PSA and the film or folding over a portion of the label over on itself. If a user wants to reclose the package to retain any remaining product after initial opening, the exposed PSA 30 (See e.g., Fig. 4) can be retacked back onto the film. It is noted then that the closure layer should be configured to extend beyond the score to cover sufficient marginal space around the score to effectively tack close the opening once the score has ruptured.
  • Thus, the present embodiments can utilize the film properties to control tear beyond the score area under the label. Preferably, given the added material and expense, label 40 is a small discrete label to provide a peel tab and a means to propagate the score to open and to direct the tear longitudinally towards the trailing end-seal, but not past the trailing end-seal. The orientation of the film controls the tear in a generally straight line towards the trailing end-seal. As such, the present embodiments only need a partial score to initiate the tear or rupture.
  • Optional or alternate features also are possible within the scope of the present embodiments. Vertical bag embodiments (not shown) for particulate products (e.g., coffee) also can use the seal and reseal features as described. Although the present embodiments have been presented as having a fin-seal, the present embodiments also can cover lap-seals (not shown). A lap-seal is formed by first overlapping a first and second surface of the film to form a sleeve (as opposed to overlapping the same surface in a fin-seal).
  • Generally, package 10 can be assembled by a variety of ways, such as by first joining film 12 at opposite sides (opposing longitudinal sides) to form fin-seal 14 and define a package height and interior space. End-seals 18 and 20 can be formed after product 46 (and optional tray, if any) has been placed within package 10 interior space. End-seals 18 and 20 can thus define package 10 width. Fin-seal 14 and end-seals 18 and 20 can be thermo formed (i.e., heat welded) or other welding means. Optionally, seals 18 and 20 can use patterns, crimps or knurls. In any instance, seals 18 and 20 are preferably considered to be hermetic seals (i.e., forming a gas (oxygen) and moisture seal).
  • During assembly of the present embodiments, fin-seal 14 can be formed as the two longitudinal film edges (See Fig. 9 edges 72 and 74) are joined and sealed by heated wheels. As discussed above, an inner sealant layer (88, Fig. 10) can be applied to the film to facilitate the type of desired seal. This internal adhesive can be applied up to 100 percent of the interior surface or only where it is needed to provide a seal.
  • The method to assemble the package can use heat seals, cold seals, extrusion and adhesive lamination, or co-extrusion. FIG. 9 illustrates a section of a roll of blanks for use in forming the flexible film package of FIG. 3. When the products are enveloped and sealed within the flow film, the flow film/label laminate can be cut into individual packages (See FIG. 5).
  • One exemplary method of making one package embodiment is generally shown by device 60 in FIG. 6 using a packaging apparatus that positions the film above the product, and then wraps the film downwards to form the fin-seal beneath the product. As shown, a discrete label 40 is registered on film 12 at label applicator 54. Prior to adding label 40, film 12 can be scored at 52 on the film surface directed to the interior of the package, though the top surface also could be scored. Preferably, though scoring occurs after the label is applied. As described above, scoring can be by a laser, mechanical means, such as a knife, and the like.
  • Next, fin-seal 14 can be formed by fin sealing device 38 as the film 12/label 40 laminate form a box 34 around a product 46 (See also, cross sectional view on FIG. 7). The sealant layers can be heated wheels pressed together, which activates the heat sealant layer on the interior layer. Where EVA, and the like, are used for a sealant layer, the heated wheels can be heated between 85 and 205 degrees Celsius. Again, line speed and film thickness also are a factor in the seal formation and its peelability and hermeticity. As shown in Fig. 7, fin-seal 14 is oriented to the bottom of package 10. It is noted though that fin-seal 14 can be oriented on any side of package 10.
  • As shown in the illustration of FIG. 6, once the film has enveloped product 46, end-seals 18 and 20 can be formed by adjacent upper and lower seal jaws 62, which not only can heat seal the ends of the package. A knife can fully separate individual packages or alternately partially cut or perforate the cut between the packages to hold them together.
  • Fin-seal 14 and end-seals 18 and 20 can optionally be formed from patterns imprinted on heated wheels 38 or seal jaws 62, which emboss the film as it is pulled through the manufacturing process.
  • Seal jaws 62 can rotate with film 12 moving through a production line where they meet to form end-seal 20 by an end-sealer. Next, as seal jaws rotate further, the film can be cut with a cutter die within the seal jaws, followed by the forming of trailing end-seal 18. In embodiments using activated heat seals, seal jaws 62 can be heated by heater element (not shown). Separate heating elements are possible where different levels of peelability are desired between end-seal 18 and end-seal 20.
  • The film roll 12 for use in the device 60 of Fig. 6 can be shown as section of blanks generally indicated at 70 in FIG. 9. This section of film would represent the film after scoring and the discrete label are applied. Section 70 can have edges 72 and 74 that are joined to form fin seal 14. End seals 18 and 20 can be formed by seal jaws 62 where the film also can be cut at line 76 to separate packages 10. Side package panels can be formed by folding the film at fold lines 78 and 80 in box 38.
  • It will be understood that various changes in the details, materials, and arrangements of the flexible package, the laminations, and methods, which have been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of the package and methods, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the embodied package, laminates and methods as expressed in the appended claims.

Claims (15)

  1. A package (10), comprising:
    a flexible film (12) defining an interior contents cavity and having a first pair of opposing edge portions forming a first end seal (20), a second pair of opposing edge portions forming a second end seal (18), and a third pair of opposing edge portions forming a longitudinal seal (14) extending from the first end seal (20) to the second end seal (18) ;
    the package (10) having a first side portion having the longitudinal seal (14) and a second side portion generally opposite the first side portion, the second side portion having a longitudinal axis of symmetry;
    a score (42) formed in the flexible film (12) at the second side portion and the score (42) defining an opening (44) to the contents cavity upon initial rupturing and configured to propagate film tear longitudinally towards the second end-seal (18);
    a closure label (40) covering a portion of the score (42), and the closure label (40) covering a portion of the longitudinal axis; and
    a pressure sensitive adhesive (30) disposed between at least portions of the closure label (40) and the flexible film (12), characterised in that the closure label covers less than the entire score (42).
  2. The package (10) of claim 1, wherein the pressure sensitive adhesive (30) has a predetermined affinity between the closure label (40) and the flexible film (12) such that the score (42) ruptures upon removal of the closure label (40) from a portion of the second side portion.
  3. The package (10) of claim 1 wherein the score (42) is closer to the first end seal (20) than the second end seal (18) and wherein the score (42) is at least one of:
    arcuate (42a);
    rectilinear (42f,42g); or
    pointed (42h).
  4. The package (10) of claim 3 wherein a concave side of the arcuate score (42) faces the second end seal (18).
  5. The package (10) of claim 3 wherein the score (42) includes a pair of terminal ends (42e,42i) configured to resist further rupturing of the flexible film (12).
  6. The package (10) of claim 1 wherein the closure label (40) includes a tack free gripping portion (22,50) configured to permit removal of the closure label (40) from at least a portion of the second side.
  7. The package (10) of claim 1, wherein the tack free gripping portion (22,50) includes an arcuate leading edge.
  8. The package (10) of claim 1, wherein the closure label (40) extends beyond the score (42) to cover sufficient marginal space around the score (42) to effectively tack close the opening (44) once the score (42) has ruptured.
  9. The package (10) of claim 1, wherein the flexible film (12) comprises at least one of:
    a laminate structure; or
    a co-extruded film structure.
  10. The flexible film package (10) of claim 9, wherein the flexible film (12) comprises at least one of:
    a laminate of polyethylene terephthalate (82) and oriented polypropylene (86) having a thickness in the range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.5 to 2.5 mils); or
    a laminate of polyethylene terephthalate (82) having a thickness in the range of about 10.16µm to 25.4µm (0.4 to 1.0 mil) and oriented polypropylene (86) having a thickness in the range of about 15.24µm to 30.48µm (0.6 to 1.2 mils).
  11. The flexible film package (10) of claim 1, wherein the closure label (40) is a bi-axially oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.2 mil to 5 mil).
  12. The flexible package (10) of claim 4, wherein the score (42) comprises a pair of parallel score lines (42b) extending from the arcuate leading edge beyond the closure label (40).
  13. A laminate for producing flexible packages (10) comprising:
    a continuous web of flexible film (12) having a width and a longitudinal axis of symmetry;
    a discrete closure label (40) applied to at most half of the width of the continuous web of flexible film (12) and along the longitudinal axis with pressure sensitive adhesive (30);
    a score (42) formed in the flexible film (12), the score (42) subsequently forming a package opening (44).when ruptured wherein the discrete closure label (40) covers a portion of the score (42); and
    the continuous web of flexible film (12) and the discrete closure label (40) configured to be formed into a series of identical package forming blanks (70), the flexible film (12) of each identical package forming blank (70) having one of the discrete closure labels (40) and scores (42) formed therein, characterised in that the discrete closure label covers less than the entire score (42).
  14. The laminate of claim 13 wherein:
    the closure label (40) is a bi-axially oriented polypropylene having a thickness in the range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.2 mil to 5 mil); and
    the continuous film (12) is laminate in a range of about 38.1µm to 63.5µm (1.5 to 2.5 mils) having a polyethylene terephthalate layer (82) and an oriented polypropylene layer (86).
  15. A method of manufacturing a series of packages (10), comprising:
    merging a closure label (40) to a continuous film web (12) having longitudinal edges (72,74) spaced a predetermined width and a longitudinal axis of symmetry, the closure label merged along the longitudinal axis, the closure label extending at most half of the width of the continuous film web;
    providing adhesive (30) between the closure label (40) and the continuous film web (12) across less than the predetermined width but more than half of the predetermined width of the film web (12);
    forming a score line (42) in the continuous film web (12) corresponding partially to the closure label (40) to define an opening (44) in the continuous film web (12) upon initial rupturing caused by removing the closure label (40) from the film web (12) wherein the closure label (40) covers a portion of the score line (42) but less than the entire score line (42);
    forming a longitudinal seal (14) along the longitudinal edges (72,74);
    forming a trailing end seal (18) between adjacent packages (10) of a series; and
    forming a leading end seal (20).
EP20110722266 2010-05-18 2011-05-18 Easy open flexible film packaging products and methods of manufacture Active EP2571782B1 (en)

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JP2013526466A (en) 2013-06-24 application
ES2555259T3 (en) 2015-12-30 grant
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WO2011146627A1 (en) 2011-11-24 application
US20130114918A1 (en) 2013-05-09 application
CA2799794A1 (en) 2011-11-24 application
EP2571782A1 (en) 2013-03-27 application

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