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Pre-Printed Package

Two of the latest technologies emerging in the thermoforming market are plant based PLA (polylactic acid) and preprinting. Shepherd has recently formed a number of trial parts combining both of these exciting new offerings.

Notable qualities of the PLA include:

  • Bio-based polymer (resin is derived from renewable feedstock such as corn)
  • Thermoformed PLA exhibits more stiffness than other clear grades such as PVC, RPET or PET, which may enable forming in thinner gauges to achieve the same end result.
  • PLA thermoforms using conventional equipment and setup procedures.
  • Discarded PLA is suitable for use in industrial compost facilities.
  • Current PLA material has a limited heat distortion temperature (should not be exposed to temperatures beyond 110 degrees F), and is therefore limited to frozen food applications or highly controlled life cycle.
  • Additives are currently under development which will enable PLA packaging to perform similar to other current material offerings.

Notable qualities of preprinted inks include:

  • Vegetable-based, and are biodegradable.
  • Pre-printing on the plastic prior to forming reduces the need for secondary application of labels and may improve the overall product image.
  • Special design software and print experience is required in order to achieve the necessary distortion to produce the required image on the formed package.
  • Preprint is currently restricted to high volume applications due to the lengthy set-up involved in both the printing and thermoforming processes.  However we are currently working on low volume solution.

Direct print sample

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