Last year UMV Coating Systems from Sweden, made a major leap toward reaching its goal of coating paper with a 100% fossil-free barrier for food packaging etc., which will prevent pores forming as the barrier dries. Behind this achievement was INVO Coater, a coater capable of producing barriers with a thickness of as little as a thousandth of a millimetre. During a pilot run last year, UMV tested the application of several extremely thin layers to a number of passageways. The result was such a success that the company has now applied for funding from Vinnova in order to redesign its pilot machine so that it can coat up to three layers in one single passageway.
“Such a modification will enable us to test innumerable combinations of different barrier media. It will become a brilliant tool for developing barriers with entirely new properties,” says Per Emilsson, the Company’s Head of Sales, who has just returned home from the US trade fair Papercon 2015, where UMV presented its multiple-layer concept to an interested audience of some 200 visitors.
Two thin layers better than a single thick one
UMV’s pilot run sparked international interest as early as last year. This is possibly because of the fact that the coating of fossil-free barriers has long been a hard nut to crack, with pores appearing that make packaging less dense and therefore unusable. This is yet another world first, now that the University of Karlstad has completed its analyses and the researchers have found that there are no pores and that two layers of thin coating (one of 1.5 gram and the other of 1 gram per square metre) produce better barrier properties than a single layer of 7 gr/square metre.
Three coaters in a single machine
During the pilot run last year, coatings were applied to a number of passageways because the pilot machine was equipped with only one coater. Now, however, UMV is looking to equip its machine with a total of three coaters in order to verify whether it is possible to repeat the same result in commercial conditions. This is not exactly a walk in the park.
“In a commercial setting, applying coatings to several passageways is too expensive. Our goal is to develop methods of applying and dosing the barrier medium in layers that are as thin and even as possible, so that we’re able to do so in three layers in a single passageway. The challenges lies in drying off the water found in the medium once it’s been applied, because the very purpose of the medium is to seal away any air or water vapour. But there are good indications that we’ll be able to achieve that,” says Per Emilsson.
The Company to offer test days for a unique pilot machine
As the project is a significant investment, Paper Province has helped UMV apply for funding that would cover 40% of the investment cost from Swedens innovation agency Vinnova’s call for applications for “Corporate Innovation Projects”.
“We’re hoping we’ll be able to finance the remainder by selling test days for the pilot machine once it’s finished. It’ll be one of a kind and an invaluable asset for the development of barriers with new properties,” says Per Emilsson. All applications are now being processed by Vinnova, which will announce its decision concerning which applications to grant in June.