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5th July 2018, Leuven

Honeycomb materials for increased performance in packaging

EconCore actively licenses its technology for the continuous production of thermoplastic honeycomb core materials, to companies around the world in various industry sectors. The early breakthroughs for EconCore’s technology were in packaging, with the company’s first licensee in Japan focusing on lightweight high-performance solutions made with polypropylene honeycomb-cored sandwich panels.

Over time, the advantages offered by a material geometry produced with an efficient technology have attracted many more new users focusing on packaging. Now, it remains the cornerstone of EconCore’s licensing business, with the largest share of licensing dedicated to applications in this sector.

Lightweight foldable and durable storage and delivery boxes. © EconCore

Building on this experience and the growing market share for honeycomb materials in packaging materials, EconCore believes its technology is now a more attractive opportunity than ever for packaging companies as they plan new investments.

Raising the bar in performance

The growth in reusable industrial packaging for honeycomb core materials has been very evident over the last few years – especially among European automotive OEMs who use collapsible sleeve pack systems for internal transportation of parts to their various assembly locations. It is estimated that upwards of 20% of this market is made up today of sleeve packs made using EconCore technology, according to the manufacturer.

Honeycomb structure and its importance as the foundation of performance. © EconCore

“There is no doubt that the mechanical performance of products made using EconCore technology, with their honeycomb structure in the package walls, contributes to the growth in the OEM market,” explained the company. “Consider sleeve packs having an areal density of 3000 g/m², one set made with true honeycomb core made using EconCore technology and another set made with a cup-type core: the compression strength for the honeycomb core is on average 65 percent higher than for the cup-type core. The honeycomb core sleeve packs also show more consistency of performance.”

Versatile technology

Since the first production line using EconCore technology for honeycomb panels was started, the development and commercialisation of a broad range of products to meet various needs in packaging, some geographically specific, has taken place. In Japan for example, Gifu Plastics, which invested in a second production line to meet the market demand, has developed a variety of sleeve boxes to meet specific customer needs; these include boxes with four-side opening and closing, sleeve boxes with a transparent view section integrated into the packaging, and boxes with aluminium frames for exceptionally heavy goods.

Collapsible sleeve packs, heavy duty layer pads. © EconCore

Gifu is also extending into other industrial packaging/logistics solutions, such as lightweight washable pallets with honeycomb core materials, as well as layer pads for protection of goods during transport and for in plant material handling. Gifu also has a range of foldable storage and delivery boxes of various dimensions, components for carry-carts, container covers and even partition walls for logistics facilities.

Collapsible sleeve packs, heavy duty layer pads. © EconCore

Karton of Italy, long known for its leadership in thermoplastic packaging, uses EconCore technology for producing industrial packaging solutions that are setting a new standard in performance. Honeycomb core sandwich panels made by Karton are used for sleeve packs in collapsible reusable packaging systems that significantly out-perform alternatives. By combining its expertise in packaging with the technology to produce true honeycomb structured materials, Karton is delivering a solution that benefits the user of reusable packaging solutions with high performance per unit weight and the potential to increase reuse cycles.

Collapsible sleeve packs, heavy duty layer pads. © EconCore

Since installing its honeycomb panel production line, EconCore technology user Röplast, of Turkey, has focused largely on developing business for automotive interior cladding applications. Röplast recently took a major step forward by extending its offering to include reusable industrial packaging. Its HexaPak reusable packaging system is taking the Turkish market by storm today, especially for intra-and inter-site logistics of customers in Turkey. HexaPak foldable containers collapse to take up to 80% less volume; this makes them ideal in the reusable industrial packaging cycle, where goods are loaded and transported, with empty containers then either being refilled to continue their path in the logistics chain or are collapsed and returned to the source location for reuse.

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