New stretchable paper as plastic alternative
There are many claimed cost-effective and environmentally-sound alternatives to plastic, and the latest is called FibreForm – the first 3D formable (stretchable) paper.
According to the firms, the new form of material is also cost-effective for sustaining the supply chain process from reel to reel that involves forming, filling and sealing products.
While the sides of the packages are capable of being macro formed, micro forming alters the intimate details of the body.
As a result, the FibreForm can transform the traditional folding cards with embossing features. It can be used on thermoforming equipment to make trays for packaging food, BillerudKorsnäs says.
Intricate designs can be printed on the FibreForm, a feature that can be exploited for supplying aesthetic quality in paper cups while acting as a material for insulation.
Development of FibreForm started in 2007, says spokesman, Armin van Overbeek: “The process to produce formable paper was invented by an Italian company. BillerudKorsnäs has the exclusive license globally. We produce it at our Gruvön mill in the western part of Sweden,
“It is a very challenging mechanical process to produce the paper which took us many trials to produce on an industrial scale.
“Since  the product has been growing in several applications, it is price competitive with PET containers and we produce it on a monthly basis.”
FibreForm is produced from 100% primary softwood (pine, spruce) fibres which is needed to ensure the paper strength for the forming process, recycled fibres have too little strength left.
Applications include granulated food (sugar, salt, flower, etc), snacks, confectionery, ice cream, ready meals and take-out hot beverages.
Packaging form depends on the tooling, with sizes varying between 200ml and 1.5 litres in the same machine and it can be run on existing thermoforming equipmennt.
BillerudKorsnäs says since the paper can be formed in existing industrial processes (thermoforming, die-cutting/embossing, pressforming), and it can replace fossil polymer content in plastic packaging (trays, blisters, sleeves, pods, containers) leading to the environmental footprint (CO2) being about one third less than a plastic package.
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