Shrink bag manufacturing is one of adapa Group’s core expertise, and the company has about 40 years of experience in this field. The company is one of Europe’s top producers of flexible packaging solutions.
The shrink bags – a real all-rounder
Shrink bags are a packaging solution that has been tried and tested for decades and they are at the same time a real high-tech product: modern shrink materials are extremely thin and consist of several different layers that give the respective packaging its special properties. Shrink packaging is enormously efficient and offers the packaged goods best protection and quality preservation throughout their entire life cycle – from storage to transport and distribution to sales at the POS.
Shrink bags are used as ripening packaging for certain products, such as cheese or meat. With their barrier properties optimally adapted to the respective packaged goods, they ensure first-class product quality, e.g. tenderly matured meat or perfectly ripened cheese. In terms of look and feel, shrink packaging is an “honest package”: it presents its contents in a way that is clearly visible and tangible from all sides. In addition, the good printability offers many possibilities for an eye-catching brand presentation, whether in the service counter or on the self-service shelf in the food retailers.
Increased automation, changed requirements
The process sequences in shrink bag packaging are largely automated today. The bags are opened in the machines, filled with the product, vacuumed, sealed and finally shrunk. Robot technology is increasingly used to fill the pouches. This high degree of automation has massively increased the cycle rate (packs/minute) and has led to a doubling of the packing speed in recent years. The high speed, combined with shorter cycle times, leaves less time for sealing, so the sealing media have been adapted to ever smaller processing windows. In addition, shrink bags for these highly automated packaging processes require appropriate mechanical strength as well as particularly reliable sealing seams, as these are exposed to high loads in the filling process. Overall, the degree of automation and thus the packaging speed depend strongly on the product being filled: while uniform and solid products, e.g. cheese pieces or loaves, can be packaged relatively well automatically, this is not always possible to the same extent for soft products with varying sizes, such as fresh meat.
Surprisingly sustainable thanks to material savings
In the spirit of resource conservation and climate protection, adapa strives with its entire portfolio of flexible packaging solutions to combine the best packaging performance and material usage. In the shrink bag segment, this has been achieved through many years of development work, which has resulted in ever thinner films, and has made this packaging variant an extremely sustainable solution. Shrink bags combine reliable product protection – which thus simultaneously counteracts food waste – with minimal material use. For example, a shrink bag with a weight of only about 12 grams is needed for the ripening packaging of a cheese wheel weighing about 3.5 kilograms – on balance, an excellent ratio between the weight of the packaged product and that of the packaging material.
Awarded development performance – designed for recycling VACUshrink(re) MEX 55
In the course of the packaging industry’s commitment to develop more sustainable solutions, the classic shrink bag can make full use of its advantageous properties. As part of its company-wide rethink initiative, adapa Group is working with its customers to promote the replacement of conventional packaging with more sustainable alternatives. A prime example of this is the VACUshrink(re) MEX 55: the shrink bag with high barrier, which is suitable for packaging meat or cheese, does not require any cross-linking. It is free of PA layers or PVDC barrier and certified recyclable. The PE-based bag is certified recyclable and can be easily processed on conventional equipment. For this, the VACUshrink(re) MEX 55 was awarded the coveted WorldStar Award 2023 in the category Packaging Materials and Components. It also won the German Packaging Award 2022 in the Sustainability category and the PackTheFuture Award 2023 in the Design for Recycling category, and was recently shortlisted for the Environmental Packaging Award. Read more about this highlight product here.
Shrink bags in every conceivable variant – and now with even more capacities
adapa Group’s shrink materials are available both as pre-made bags and as flat films. For the shrink bags, there are different seal shapes, such as bottom and side seals in different designs, as well as special shaped seal configurations. The shrink bags, which are supplied loose, stacked, taped or perforated on roll (POR), can be optimally processed on all common packaging machines, as they have excellent mechanical properties as well as excellent sealability.
The proven and at the same time highly contemporary packaging solution has great future potential thanks to its good compatibility of product protection and resource conservation. This fact has motivated the adapa Group to make substantial investments at two locations. This includes investments in a significant upgrade in adapa’s Centre of Excellence for shrink materials in Kempten in southern Germany, allowing for more capacity. In addition, the site in UK St Helens Limited in northern England is currently being expanded to include two state-of-the-art shrink bag lines, which are intended to offer British customers in particular even faster availability and the best local service. While the first plant is already in operation, the second is expected to be commissioned at the end of May 2023. The adapa Group will thus continue to ensure the supply of modern packaging solutions in the usual high quality for its customers.
The shrink bag – a brief adapa history
The production of shrink materials is a highly demanding process. It begins with the careful selection of raw materials and continues through extrusion to finishing and bag making. adapa’s shrink bag expertise is based on decades of experience: the group was one of the first suppliers of flexible packaging solutions to start producing shrink bags in the early 1980s. Since then, adapa has continuously manufactured this product category in Germany and has continuously developed it further. Production began with 3- and 5-layer structures. Today, adapa produces high-tech shrink materials on triple-bubble lines that can consist of almost twice as many layer structures.
Over the decades, shrink packaging has been adapted more and more specifically to the requirements of the products to be protected. In the process, the trend has been towards ever thinner structures: compared to the 1990s, when the materials still had a thickness of 50-55 µm, today even 40 µm is achieved for some applications. At the same time, product properties such as puncture resistance have been improved. adapa now offers its customers the opportunity to choose from an extensive complete portfolio. This includes a wide range of different material thicknesses as well as various barrier materials. Thanks to these, customers have various barrier options (high-, medium- or low-barrier) at their disposal. There are also special product versions for deep-freeze and heat applications and so-called high-abuse applications, which are particularly suitable for packaging heavy, hard or sharp-edged products.