Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise many areas of labels and packaging, delivering performance enhancements to overcome many previously insurmountable technical challenges by applying coatings at the nano scale, typically 3 orders of magnitude smaller than the conventional particle scale for inks. Such particles are too small to be seen without electron microscopes and other atomic probes. Potential uses include invisible brand protection coding (‘spydust’ or nano taggants), barrier treatments for papers, biohazard indicators for pathogens as well as smart indicator label solutions to show changes in time or temperature. Nano barcodes are also hypothesised to be feasible.
We are currently working on a number of nano scale projects looking at the potential of this technology for printing by dispersing nano scale particles directly into fluids that can be formed into inks or coatings without the agglomeration issues associated with dry powders. This also address the environmental uncertainty associated with dry nano particles in the atmosphere.
Of particular interest are coatings that affect the feel and performance of packaging materials, as well as their ability to indicate events. The transmission electron microscopy image above shows a submicron scale platlet coating that gives a very smooth or soapy feel that has potential to be used in smart labelling.
The image below is of a Titania (TiO2) nano coating that exhibits a hydrophilic effect that is being investigated for its potential to provide ‘self cleaning’ coating on packaging in a similar way to self cleaning glass. This type of coating can potentially deliver coatings with particles around 10nm with a tight particle size distribution.
If you would like to discuss a smart labelling application that could involve this type of nanotechnology then please submit an expression of interest.