Fraunhofer FEP develops steam sterilisable barrier films for packaging


Transparent and hot steam sterilisable packaging films from Applied Materials and Fraunhofer FEP
Transparent and hot steam sterilisable packaging films from Applied Materials and Fraunhofer FEP

The Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, one of the leading research and development partners for the development of surface technologies, together with Applied Materials, Inc. is exhibiting innovative technologies for the production of transparent and hot steam sterilisable packaging films at AIMCAL 2016 from 30 May to 2 June 2016 in Dresden, Germany.

For example, scientists at Fraunhofer FEP working with Applied Materials developed a process for depositing an ultra-thin aluminum oxide layer with a thickness of <100nm (typically 10-15nm). "In contrast to conventional production methods, we have extended the process by a further component: the alumina is vacuum deposited with the support of an intense plasma, so that a much more robust, significantly more dense, and way more solid layer is formed compared with using a low intensity plasma," explains Steffen Straach, group leader in the department “Flat and Flexible Products” at Fraunhofer FEP. "This is of particular relevance for further processing of the packaging materials."

The ultra-thin aluminum oxide layers deliver reliable protection, for example in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or delicate foods against humidity, gases and other environmental influences. Furthermore, they provide maximum transparency. They have a very high barrier effect against oxygen and water vapor, so packaged goods survive even longer storage and transport times, and can withstand superheated steam sterilization. The high deposition rate of the new process developed by Fraunhofer FEP for roll-to-roll coating systems enables the efficient production of competitive packaging films. Fraunhofer FEP and Applied Materials jointly succeeded in integrating this process into a metallization system for industrial mass production. Several Applied TopMet CLEAR systems with coating widths up to 2.85 m have been delivered. The Applied TopMet CLEAR system provides the latest production solutions for the packaging industry.