The 1991 R.E.M. song (“Shiny Happy People”) could be referring to the product that AR Metallizing provides. Indeed, the Massachusetts company’s shiny happy offering (metalized paper) makes for more than a pretty label. It’s an effective packaging solution, and it’s environmentally correct. And that makes for shiny, happy clients (and consumers) everywhere, says Dan Harvey.
AR Metallizing Ltd. is a world leader when it comes to vacuum metallized and holographic paper substrates. For more than 20 years, the Franklin, Mass.-based company’s products have offered critical solutions to clients’ packaging needs. Applications are both decorative and functional.
Throughout its history, AR Metallizing has enhanced brands by adding client value and consumer convenience and offering new methods of food and product safety improvements. Applications for the company’s VacuBRITE® metallized paper and HoloPRISM® holographic innovations are numerous. The company’s reputation is as sustainable as its new products.
“Greening” of a Venerable Enterprise
Indeed, the products demonstrate environmental stewardship. In June 2012, AR Metallizing launched a new line of compostable metallized packaging papers, tested and certified as biodegradable in a managed composting facility – thus meeting ASTM D-6868 standards. The new papers offer an environmentally safe and sound alternative to foil, foil laminated papers and metallized films. This makes them ideally suited to sandwich wraps and bags, as well as pouching for multiple applications.
The papers are available in a wide range of weights and functional performance characteristics. The company is proud to produce this innovative line of compostable metallized papers that offer a more “green” alternative to foils currently used in food packaging.
Joe Formosa, AR Metallizing director of business and product development, vividly describes the value: “The new papers not only transform into worm food, but the plants that grow from them are both normal and healthy.”
We’re talking about a new definition of “compostability.”
Legacy of AR Metallizing
AR Metallizing boasts a rich history of performance in utilizing core competencies in coating, metallizing and converting to consistently meet and exceed client need.
“The North American division of AR Metallizing, now about 20 years old, started with a company called Dennison Manufacturing, located in Framingham, Mass.,” relates Formosa. “The company advanced metallized paper as an alternative to foil for beer labels.”
Aesthetics were a major concern. “At the beginning, metalized paper was a decorative alternative to foil for beer labels, as it resembled silver,” recalls Formosa, who has been involved in the industry – and metallizing activity – for 20 years. “That’s how companies wanted to present their beer products. But, back then, when you started running such labels on machines, it proved a disaster. Metallized foil wasn’t forgiving. It didn’t absorb glues. But we eventually developed workable production solutions using the alternative metallized paper. So metallized paper found a home in Massachusetts, and that is how AR Metallizing began growing.”
As AR Metallizing evolved through the years – and as it advanced the paper metalizing process – the company didn’t sacrifice aesthetics for function, even though functionality assumed the front seat.
In ensuing years, and as the company expanded its boundaries, AR Metallizing got into food packaging – if on a limited level. “We’re talking about ice cream wraps, or the outer wraps of a chocolate bar,” describes Formosa. “But things like direct food contact and even barrier papers were not part of our core products. However, in the last couple of years, we got into developing more functional coatings, meaning something more appropriate for direct food contact, instead of secondary.”
Such coatings – and the assurance that papers and coatings conformed to compostability rules – led AR Metallizing into its recent product development. The new line of compostable metalized papers offers a “green”-er alternative to the foils currently used in food packaging. Clients aren’t the only ones on board. So are consumers. “Today, consumers are far more aware about environmental issues related to food packaging,” says Formosa. “I’ve been around for a while, so I remember when consumer demand compelled MacDonald’s to get away from those Styrofoam clamshells.”
But don’t think of AR Metallizing as a company that just services the food industry.
“Within our organizational activities, you’ll find some – but not a lot – of food packaging activities,” says Formosa. “We offer alternatives for many industries. And we promote what we produce. If we can’t make the client or the consumer care, then we’re just offering a new ‘mousetrap’ that no one will want to buy.”
To that end, the company has made its offerings appear both valuable and viable – and testing is the validating factor. “We’ve done testing on elements such as heat retention and barrier requirements,” says Formosa.
Current applications include:
- Advertising (commercial, print promotion and direct-to-consumer materials) – Company clients need to grab consumer attention, and AR Metallizing’s VacuBRITE® metallized papers and HoloPRISM® holographic metallized papers make the graphics come alive. The technology represents the modern substitute in printing processes. In this area, specific applications include advertisements and inserts, point-of-purchase displays, promotional coupons, direct mail, event tickets and lottery tickets, among others;
- Beverage labels – AR Metallizing’s VacuBRITE ® metallized paper or HoloPRISM® holographic label paper provide a high-shine surface for stunning graphics and can be substituted in any labeling process. Applications include pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels, and glass and plastic bottles;
- Entertainment packaging – AR Metallizing’s VacuBRITE® metallized paper or HoloPRISM® holographic paper represent an eye-catching alternative to plain paper, with the high-finish that enhances graphics. Applications include folding cartons, DVD covers, CD covers, posters and promotional coupons;
- General labels – Designed to capture consumer’s attention, AR Metallizing’s VacuBRITE® metallized paper and HoloPRISM® holographic paper can be substituted for standard paper in any labeling process, and to dramatic effect. Applications include pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels, aluminum and steel cans, glass and plastic bottles, and spiral-wound canisters;
- Gift wrap – Simply stated, metallized paper dazzles the eye, providing the giver with a package that best reflects the gift’s intent. Usages include giftwrap and gift bags, and again include the VacuBRITE® metallized and HoloPRISM® holographic paper;
- Publishing and commercial printing – Publishers and advertisers (operating in the book, magazine, and promotion material arena) have witnessed increased readership and sales, thanks to AR Metallizing’s VacuBRITE® metallized and HoloPRISM® holographic paper. Specific applications include magazine and book covers, and programs and catalogues. Do you want a specific example of what the technology accomplished? Look at what Rolling Stone magazine did with its “special issue” that celebrated the “Summer of Love” and the Monterey Pop Festival. Obviously, Jann Wenner considered the era epochal; metallized paper brought it to life for new generations.
Production Facilities – “Lean” but Not Starving
In its three production sites in Genk (Belgium), Casalgrasso (Northern Italy) and Franklin, Mass. (USA), AR Metallizing has the capacity to produce more than 50,000 tons of metallized paper. The Franklin site produces all of the HoloPRISM® paper.
In the process, the facilities became “lean” – referencing the manufacturing principle where waste is considered a sin. Formosa is reluctant to use the “lean” term, but he concedes the organization has embraced the concept. “Though it’s an overused phrase, our company took the concept to heart, in 2009, when the economy was down-turning and we were in survival mode.”
But it wasn’t a last-ditch attempt. Rather, “lean” moved the company forward. “Because of implementation, we didn’t have to tear a plant apart or do massive layoffs,” recalls Formosa. “We simply tightened operations, reduced waste, and increased efficiency and throughput.” It all worked out well. “Look at our plants now,” challenges Formosa. “You’ll see technologic modernity coupled with advanced engineering, and the right management of metrics and inventory. That got us through the lean years, and it’s what will carry us into the future.”
Also, a company that offers such products must attach itself to the best graphic designers – and AR Metallizing’s staff adds value in commercial print technologies, laminating, holography, coating and general converting, along with the graphic design capabilities.
Shine on Brightly
Further, the enterprise is a resourceful organization. Listen to Formosa: “One of the most interesting parts of compostable paper is that, from cradle to grave, it’s a great resource when you consider consumption. Look at aluminum foil compared to metallized paper. You see a 700-fold reduction in material. So, from start to finish, metallized paper, in many instances, is a superior alternative to foil. That doesn’t mean that Reynolds will go out of business because of our uptick. Aluminum foil will still be a great solution for wrapping leftovers. Wrap a steak in foil, stick it in a freezer, and you can eat it a month later. We can’t do that. But we can offer the aforementioned advantages.”
Now listen to the rock group REM ring loud: “Shiny happy people holding hands.” For AR Metallizing, that circle includes client, consumer and company – and that translates into shiny happy people everywhere, thanks to this company’s bright metallized products, and its bright approach to innovation.
Note: At the time this article was being written, AR Metallizing bought Vacumet. AR Metallizing is a group created in 2009, following the merger of the two European leaders in the area of vacuum metallization: Alupa and Rotoflex. AR Metallizing services the CPG, beverage, and the packaging, food & tobacco industries with its highly specialized range of vacuum metallized papers. AR Metallizing also is rapidly developing in the coating and metallizing of other, technical specialty materials.