The current paper pulp moulding industry uses processes that often require large, centralized, high energy consuming plant and equipment to produce low value, visually unattractive products.
Our process overcomes many of these aspects. We have:
- A compact de-centralized industrial process that is energy efficient and very cost effective
- A multi stage process that moulds and produces a finished dried product in situ
- The capability of producing high quality, more intricately shaped paper products
- A diverse range of complex containers for a wide range of product applications
- Makes major savings in process energy use
- The ability to incorporate additives during manufacturing process, such as natural colouring, fire and waterproofing etc.
- On board process Quality Control
NRL can offer a number of services including tooling design and in-house small batch production capability.
2008 – 2011: IMPP Proof-of-Concept "A new beginning"
- Led by new management (Tony Hardacre and Alan Smith)
- EC FP7 Grant funded proof of concept of moulding principles
- Development project led by PERA
- Initial patents on tooling and moulding filed
- Further equity funding
2011-2013: IMPP Volume Prototyping "Commercial Concept"
- EACI grant funded commercialization of prototype production system
- EACI grant funding on 50% matched funding basis
- ECOIMPPACT consortium comprising Sinfiltrate (NRL), Nibek, and Cartonnage du Roannais (withdrew 2012)
- New patents to be filed on completion of development
- Project concludes May 2014, but commercialisation to start as soon as prototype trials are sufficiently advanced
2013 onwards: Market and Customer Development "Exploitation"
- Developing engagement with "early adopter" customers
- Develop coating and capping solutions with customers
- Build market awareness – brand owner, retailer and consumer level
- Promote technology as a valid alternative to existing container types
- Develop sales pipeline
- Establish relevant engineering partnerships with other packaging equipment providers
The aims of the EASME project were:
- to scale up the original paper moulding process technology, developed in the FP7 project.
- to incorporate additional improvements in environmental performance since the original FP7 laboratory scale work was undertaken.
- to design a novel full scale working demonstration process machine, which met defined performance specifications.
- to create a flexible machine architecture which could accommodate continuing future development of the technology to produce different moulded paper pulp (MPP)products.
- to engage with the market to ensure that the technology met the needs of potential customers and operators of the process machine.
- to establish a full scale process machine incorporating the innovative technology which would be essential for demonstration to potential customers
- to develop relationships with key customers to promote the adoption of the technology cost effectively throughout Europe and worldwide.
The starting point was a technology which had been demonstrated at laboratory test level and the task was to ensure that it could be commercially engineered. Although the main period of research and developmental innovation had already been achieved, there was nonetheless significant additional development involved in the process of scaling up each part of the process.
The overall process was divided into a series of sub-stages, which had to be individually optimised during the EASME project. This was necessary so that the process as a whole is efficient and can achieve the overall performance of the full scale machine, capable of reliably delivering of 8 million units of MPP products per year. The concept of ‘process work stations’ at which each of the sub-stages operates was developed.
The original project specification focussed upon the production of one litre paper bottles manufactured in a single process operation. This machine architecture also had to meet the objective of flexibility in accommodating continuing future development of the technology to produce a range of different MPP products.
During the project, the design was completed and a full scale demonstration machine was constructed. An extended period of testing of each sub-stage was undertaken, allowing for operational optimisation. This was satisfactorily concluded with confirmation of the potential of the machine to produce the target throughput of 8 million bottles per year.
All the aims of the project were substantially achieved. In particular:
- The technology has been successfully incorporated into a commercially viable machine capable of producing cost competitive paper bottles at the required rate of 8 million units per year.
- This machine is highly novel in both its design and operation.
- The market will require bottles of different shapes and sizes, other than one litre bottles of a single shape. The technology can accommodate this flexibility within a reasonable range.
- With some adaptation, the technology can allow the production of other types of paper packaging, a demonstration machine has been established which is essential for ongoing marketing of the technology.
- The groundwork has been laid for penetration into both the bottle market and, with continuing development, into wider areas of packaging.
- The success achieved in the technical development of the machine has enabled significant advances to be made in marketing of the product and interaction with potential customers.
- This has led to the signing of an agreement with a major European brand name to collaborate in development of future products. Discussions are also under way with other multinationals who are keen to incorporate our technology into their product lines.
- The EASME funding has been essential in enabling these technical and marketing aims to be achieved. Furthermore it has enabled a commercial strategy to be developed to promote the technology into wider market sectors and geographic areas.