Progress Pushes Packaging

A new report from NanoMarkets LC, "Smart Packaging Markets: 2006–2013" says that smart packaging can make a major contribution to combating counterfeiting, especially in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical sectors. And, a broad range of printable electronics technologies is making such packaging not only possible, but economically viable as well. Among these are RFID tags, OLED displays and lights, sensors, thin-film batteries, and photovoltaics. Printable and chip-based RFID tags will be used for many purposes, including time/temperature indication for the pharmaceutical industry. To deliver on the promise of one-cent RFID tags, though, significant improvements are needed to print in high volume on a variety of substrates.

While the evolution of smart packaging has been hampered by the lack of small, low-cost power sources, NanoMarkets says piezoelectric materials, organic photovoltaics, and thin-film batteries will mature and fall in price. NanoMarkets also believes that smart materials will have an important impact on packaging. Among the potential opportunities are thermochromic inks to show when an optimal (or dangerous) temperature has been reached, shape memory alloys to control the opening and closing of packages depending on environmental conditions, and smart adhesives that can be used to indicate freshness through color changes on labels. (http:// tinyurl.com/zmjte)

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