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Post published on 09/05/2024

IMA & ETIMEX: partnership to drive sustainable packaging innovation forward

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  1. How did your collaboration begin, and what common goals did you identify at the start of your joint journey?

[Davide Soncin, IMA Safe – Product Manager and KAM]

For IMA and ETIMEX, meeting customer needs is our goal. Over the past few years, both companies have actively engaged with pharmaceutical Companies to explore sustainable alternatives to traditional packaging standards. This shared commitment to sustainability sparked the collaboration between IMA and ETIMEX. For over three decades, ETIMEX has pioneered the sustainable Mono Polypropylene Packaging concept through its PURELAY® family of films. The primary goal for IMA has been to assess how these innovative materials perform efficiently on both new and existing blister packaging lines globally.

  1. What are the unique characteristics of ETIMEX material that make it particularly suited for blister packaging? Is there any property that sets it apart from other materials in the market?

[Theodoros Theodoridis, ETIMEX Primary Packaging GmbH – Sales Manager]

ETIMEX has established itself as a global leader in the production of Polypropylene films for the pharmaceutical industry. With over 30 years of expertise and manufacturing facilities that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards, ETIMEX consistently meets the stringent demands of this challenging sector. Its PURELAY® PHARM product, distinguished by a unique extrusion process, offers superior clarity and enhanced thermoforming capabilities, positioning it as a recyclable alternative to traditional PVC films. The increased water vapor barrier properties of Polypropylene make it a viable option for replacing low to middle barrier PVDC films.

Furthermore, with PURELAY® LID , ETIMEX introduces a Polypropylene film renowned for its exceptional ‘push-through’ characteristics, designed to mimic the mechanical performance of aluminium while enhancing user convenience.

Together, these innovations not only improve barrier properties against water vapor but are also recognized by Interseroh as a “good to recycle” packaging solution, marking a significant advancement in sustainable pharmaceutical packaging.

  1. In the design of IMA blister machines, how is the concept of sustainability incorporated? Are there any particular innovations or practices you have adopted to reduce environmental impact?

[Davide Soncin, IMA Safe – Product Manager and KAM]

At IMA, we embrace sustainability through a comprehensive 360-degree approach that encompasses several critical areas: social sustainability, green mobility, emission reduction and the sustainability of both production processes and packaging materials. Our objective is not only to streamline daily production activities for all users of our machines, but also to enhance the efficiency of components on our blister machines.

Our design philosophy focuses on minimizing material waste by optimizing die-cutting processes and reducing energy consumption through the use of high-efficiency motors. Additionally, we have implemented advanced product feeding systems that protect the product from damage, thereby further reducing waste. This holistic approach to sustainability reflects our commitment to environmental stewardship while improving operational efficiency and product quality.

  1. How have IMA blister machines positively influenced the use of ETIMEX materials in packaging? Are there features of the machines you find particularly beneficial, or think could be further improved?

[Theodoros Theodoridis, ETIMEX Primary Packaging GmbH – Sales Manager]

As a premier producer of blister packaging lines, IMA wields significant influence over pharmaceutical companies in their selection of suitable packaging films. For Etimex, the collaboration with IMA is of paramount importance as it enables us to convince our mutual customers that choosing PURELAY® polypropylene films is a smart decision. We offer them the tools to protect their products, streamline processes, meet sustainability goals and, most importantly, ensure consumer safety.

Over the past two years, through a close partnership and the sharing of practical experiences with IMA, ETIMEX has been inspired to develop the next generation of its films: PURELAY High Performance®. This innovative product introduces a “plug-and-play” solution for existing blister lines, allowing for seamless integration without the need for costly retrofits or upgrades. With PURELAY High Performance®, ETIMEX offers a performance equivalent to traditional packaging materials, ensuring continuity and efficiency in production processes.

  1. How have IMA blister machines been designed or adapted to work optimally with innovative materials like those produced by ETIMEX? What advantages have they brought in terms of efficiency and packaging quality?

[Davide Soncin, IMA Safe – Product Manager and KAM]

Over recent years, we have conducted many trials on our lines using ETIMEX materials in collaboration with various pharmaceutical Companies. This has provided us the opportunity to evaluate different blister and pocket sizes on machines configured in different ways. From these trials, we can confidently assert that ETIMEX materials perform exceptionally well on our lines, requiring only few modifications. These adjustments are linked to the configuration of the machine and they depend on the specific blister dimensions and desired operational speeds, but are generally limited to standard adjustments that we readily recommend to our mutual customers.

We have also observed that the push-through properties of these materials are remarkably easy, and the operational speeds achieved are comparable to those using traditional PVC/ALU configurations. This level of performance underscores the effectiveness and adaptability of ETIMEX materials in meeting production demands while maintaining high standards of quality and efficiency.

  1. What is the role of OPENLab in this context?

[Davide Soncin, IMA Safe – Product Manager and KAM]

IMA’s OPENLab performs the  fundamental analysis in the research and development of its machines, investigating the correlation between the chemical-physical properties of materials and operational performance.

In addition, OPENLab plays the role of “an innovation hub”  for the sustainable packaging sector, with a specific focus on recyclable materials, an increasingly important aspect in the pharmaceutical sector, too. The collaboration with ETIMEX is very important in this context, as providing innovative materials in terms of sustainability contributes significantly to achieving these goals. The valuable information obtained through the detailed analysis of the properties of materials – such as thermal characterization, stratigraphy, mechanical tests – and the results obtained from the tests on the machines, enrich OPENLab’s information assets by enhancing the range of machines capable of processing new generation materials, guaranteeing IMA’s quality standard. 

  1. Could you provide concrete examples of how your collaboration has led to tangible successes for your customers? It would be interesting to hear about specific success cases.

[Davide Soncin, IMA Safe – Product Manager and KAM]

Our Customers greatly value the partnership and cherish the opportunity to visit a single location where they can witness a real production machine in operation, running the materials they have chosen. This firsthand experience not only demonstrates the effectiveness of our collaboration, but also enhances their confidence in the integrated solutions we provide.

  1. What are your forecasts for the future in terms of innovations or developments in both packaging materials and sustainable packaging technologies? How are you preparing to face future challenges?

[Theodoros Theodoridis, ETIMEX Primary Packaging GmbH – Sales Manager]

As the pharmaceutical packaging industry evolves, driven by sustainability, both ETIMEX and IMA are leading the way with innovations that anticipate industry demands. Our PURELAY® films are part of a broader effort to develop sustainable packaging solutions. Together, we’re committed to advancing technologies that enhance efficiency and sustainability.

Our collaboration leverages IMA’s technological strengths and ETIMEX’s innovative materials to meet and set new standards in pharmaceutical packaging. This partnership is not just about adapting to changes but actively shaping the future of the industry, ensuring that we continue to offer our clients cutting-edge, sustainable solutions.



About IMA’s commitment to sustainability: IMA ZERO

IMA ZERO is the evolution of IMA’s commitment to Sustainable Development: its ultimate goal is to minimise environmental impact in industrial manufacturing, while promoting and creating a working and living habitat that always puts people and biodiversity at the centre.

The project is divided into 4 main programs:

  • LOW (Low-Impact Program) refers to the pledge to lower the Group’s impact on the environment, reducing emissions, waste, as well as water and energy consumption, and preserving natural resources.
  • NOP (No-Plastic Program) fosters the employment of eco-friendly materials for the gradual reduction of plastic in packaging produced by IMA machines. To this purpose, IMA OPENLab plays a fundamental role: the Group’s network of technological laboratories and testing areas is dedicated to the research of sustainable materials, technologies and production optimisation processes.
  • E-MOB (Sustainable Mobility Program) includes the Group’s projects about sustainable and electric mobility, for example the implementation of e-charging stations at IMA’s plants to charge hybrid and electric cars during working time. The Company’s biggest investment was the acquisition of IMA AUTOMATION ATOP, an Italian excellence in manufacturing lines for the production of e-traction engines, and the acquisition of IMA AUTOMATION FASP.
  • YOU (Human-Centric Program) concerns the Group’s commitment to putting people at the centre, promoting different projects related to equal opportunities, inclusion, integration, professional development, and anything that can improve working and living conditions.

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