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Adhesive Lamination
A laminating process in which individual layers of packaging materials are laminated to each other with an adhesive.

AL – Aluminium Foil
A thin-gauge (6-12 microns) aluminum foil laminated to plastic films to provide maximum oxygen, aroma, and water vapor barrier properties. Although it is by far the best barrier material, it is increasingly being replaced by metallized films (see MET-PET, MET-OPP, and VMPET) because of cost.

Aseptic packaging
A system in which the product is sterilized before filling into pre-sterilized packs under aseptic conditions.

The ability to stop or retard the movement of one substance through another. In packaging, the term is most commonly used to describe the ability of a material to stop or retard the passage of atmospheric gases, water vapor, and volatile flavor and aroma ingredients.

Biaxial Orientation
A film that has been stretched under certain temperature conditions equally in both the machine and transverse directions. Biaxially stretched films are generally well balanced in both directions and much stronger in terms of tear strength.

Blister Packaging

A type of packaging in which the item is secured between a preformed (usually transparent plastic) dome or “bubble” and another surface or “carrier.” Attachment may be by stapling, heat-sealing, gluing, or other means.

Blown Films

Plastic films produced from synthetic resins (such as polyethylene) by the blown process. In this process, the molten resin is extruded through a circular die into a tube. This tube is expanded (“blown”) by internal air pressure into a larger bubble with a much-reduced wall thickness and cooled with external air quenching.


Bi-axially Oriented Nylon film, with excellent oxygen and aroma barrier properties, (see Nylon), but it is a poor water vapor barrier. BON is much stiffer than cast nylon film but cannot be thermoformed.


Cast Polypropylene film. Unlike OPP, it is heat-sealable, but at much higher temperatures than LDPE, thus it is used as a heat-seal layer in retortable packaging. It is, however, not as stiff as OPP film.

Cast Film

Plastic film produced from synthetic resins (such as polyethylene) by the cast process. In this process, the molten resin is extruded through a slot die onto an internally cooled chill roll.


Simultaneous extrusion of two or more different thermoplastic resins into a sandwich-like film with clearly distinguishable individual layers.

Coffee Valve

A pressure relief valve added to coffee pouches to allow natural unwanted gases to be vented while maintaining the freshness of the coffee. Also called an aroma valve as it allows you to smell the product through the valve.

Cold Seal

A pressure-sensitive adhesive coating on plastic films or laminates that will allow the packages to be sealed by the application of pressure (with no heat or minimal heat).

Die-Cut Pouch

A pouch that is formed with contour side seals that then passes through a die-punch to trim excess sealed material, leaving a contoured and shaped final pouch design. Can be accomplished with both stand up and pillow pouch types.

Direct Heat Sealer

The jaws are heated to a preset temperature; these sealers are used for thicker material and foil-based material.

DoyPack (Doyen)

A stand up pouch that has seals on both sides and around the bottom gusset. In 1962, Louis Doyen invented and patented the first soft sack with an inflated bottom called Doypack. Although this new packaging was not the immediate success hoped for, it is booming today since the patent has entered the public domain.


Ethylene-Methyl Acrylate (EMAC). The copolymerization of ethylene with methyl acrylate produces an ethylene copolymer, one of the most thermally stable of the olefin copolymers. The polymers are produced with varying percentages of methyl acrylate content, most typically between 1 8 and 24% of the structure. Alone or in blends, it has found applications in film, extrusion coating, sheet, laminating, and co-extrusion.


Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate copolymer, Much softer and clearer than LDPE or LLDPE and has a lower melt temperature. Its melt temperature goes down, while its softness increases with increasing vinyl acetate (VA) content. EVA resins with 2-18% VA content are used for cast and blown packaging films.


Ethylene-Vinyl Alcohol copolymer, used in co-extruded plastic films to improve oxygen barrier properties. It is, however, a poor water vapor barrier. Even its otherwise excellent OTR, (oxygen transmission rate) is sensitive to high humidity; therefore, for packaging applications, it is usually the core layer of co-extruded plastic films, where it is shielded from moisture by protective layers of polyethylene. Its OTR also depends on its VOH (vinyl alcohol) content.

Extended Shelf Life (ESL)

Involves the pasteurization of a product and the transfer to a package in a controlled atmosphere filler.


A material that is capable of being stretched under normal processing conditions.

Extrusion Lamination

A laminating process in which individual layers of multi-layer packaging materials are laminated to each other by extruding a thin layer of molten synthetic resin (such as polyethylene) between the layers. Used to fabricate high barrier or exceptionally durable film structures.

Flexible packaging

A pack or container made of flexible or easily yielding materials that, when filled and closed, can be readily changed in shape.


A method of printing using flexible rubber or photopolymer printing plates in which the image to be printed stands out in relief. Fluid ink metered by an engraved roll is applied to the raised portions of the printing plate and then transferred to the substrate.


A thin gauge (0.2285-0.325 mils) aluminum foil laminated to plastic films to provide maximum oxygen, aroma, and water vapor barrier properties. Although it is the best barrier material, it is increasingly being replaced by metalized films because of cost. Sometimes the multi-layer film containing a foil barrier layer is generically referred to as “the foil film.”

Form, Fill & Seal Pouch

A pouch that is formed from roll-stock, filled, and sealed all on a single, multi-stage machine.

Gravure Printing

(Rotogravure). With gravure printing, an image is etched on the surface of a metal plate, the etched area is filled with ink, then the plate is rotated on a cylinder that transfers the image to the film or other material. Gravure is abbreviated from Rotogravure.


The fold in the side or bottom of the pouch, allowing it to expand when contents are inserted.


High density, (0.95-0.965) polyethylene. This part has much higher stiffness, higher temperature resistance, and much better water vapor barrier properties than LDPE, although it is considerably hazier.

Heat seal Layer/Sealant

A heat-sealable layer in plastic packaging films and laminates. Can be either adhesive laminated or extrusion-coated onto a non-sealable film (or foil). This is also typically the product contact layer and often predominantly made from LLDE.

Heat seal Strength

Strength of heat seal measured after the seal is cooled.

Hot Tack

Strength of heat seal measured before the seal is cooled, which is very important for high-speed packaging operations.


(a) noun – A product made by bonding together two or more layers of material. (b) verb – To unite layers of material to produce a multilayer material.

Laminated Film

An adhered combination of two or more films or sheets made to improve overall characteristics, also known as a multilayer film.

Lap Seal

A seal made with two layers of film overlapping one another. Because lap seals require less material than fin seals, packagers are converting to lap seals in the name of sustainability, lean operations, and economics.

Laser Scoring

Use of high-energy narrow light beam to partially cut through a material in a straight line or shaped patterns. This process is used to provide an easy-opening feature to various types of flexible packaging materials.


Low density, (0.92-0.934) polyethylene. Used mainly for heat-sealability and bulk in packaging.

Light Resistance

The ability of the material to withstand exposure to light (usually sunlight or the ultraviolet part of the light spectrum) without a change of color or loss of physical and/or chemical properties.


Linear low-density polyethylene. Tougher than LDPE and has better heat-seal strength but has higher haze.


Medium density, (0.934-0.95) polyethylene. Has higher stiffness, higher melting point, and better water vapor barrier properties.


Metallized OPP film. It has all the good properties of OPP film, plus much-improved oxygen and water vapor barrier properties (but not as good as MET-PET).


Metallized PET film. It has all the good properties of PET film, plus much-improved oxygen and water vapor barrier properties. However, it is not transparent. See also VMPET.


Moisture vapor transmission rate, usually measured at 100% relative humidity, expressed in grams/100 square inches/24 hours (or grams/square meter/24 Hrs.) See WVTR.


Mylar is a registered trademark of the Dupont-Teijin Corporation. Is the industrial brand name for that corporation’s polyester (PET) film. Polyester film is a staple of multi-layer packaging for a wide variety of applications.

NY – Nylon

Polyamide resins, with very high melting points, excellent clarity, and stiffness. Two types are used for films – nylon-6 and nylon-66. The latter has a much higher melt temperature, thus better temperature resistance, but the former is easier to process, and it is cheaper. Both have good oxygen and aroma barrier properties, but they are poor barriers to water vapor.


Hiding power of pigmented (mostly white) plastic films. It is beneficial for packing materials sensitive to light (visible or ultraviolet).

OPP – Oriented PP (polypropylene) Film

A stiff, high-clarity film but not heat-sealable. Usually combined with other films, (such as LDPE) for heat sealability. Can be coated with PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride), or metallized for much-improved barrier properties.

OPS Shrink Film – Oriented Polystyrene Film

A very common alternative to PVC shrink films in Asia and Europe but not readily available in the USA. Slightly higher priced than PVC films but more recyclable and has a greater shrink percentage.

OTR – Oxygen Transmission Rate

OTR of plastic materials varies considerably with humidity; therefore, it needs to be specified. Standard conditions of testing are 0, 60, or 100% relative humidity. Units are cc./100 square inches/24 hours (or cc/square meter/24 Hrs.) (cc = cubic centimeters)

PE – Polyethylene

Depending on its density, it may be low density (see LDPE), medium density (see MDPE), or high density (see HDPE).

PET – Polyester, (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Tough, temperature-resistant polymer. Bi-axially oriented PET film is used in laminates for packaging, where it provides strength, stiffness, and temperature resistance. It is usually combined with other films for heat sealability and improved barrier properties.

PET-G Shrink Films – Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol Shrink Film

The most expensive shrink film for full-body shrink sleeves but clear, glossy, strong, and most recyclable. The highest shrink percentage available is about 75%, so this film is often required when the container has a narrow waist or neck.

Plow-Bottom Stand-up Pouch

A stand-up pouch that is made from one piece of film. The front, gusset, and back are continuous, so there is no seal at the gusset. Holds more weight than Doy-style pouches, so are commonly used for products weighing more than one pound.

PMS Number

The Pantone Matching System is the universally accepted color definition system. Colors can be blended or individually specified to match a specified Pantone reference color exactly.

PP – Polypropylene

Has a much higher melting point, thus better temperature resistance than PE. Two types of PP films are used for packaging: cast (see CAPP) and oriented (see OPP).

Release Coating

A coating applied to the non-sealing side of cold-sealable packaging films and laminates supplied in a roll form that will allow the packer to unwind these films or laminates on packaging machines.


The thermal processing or cooking packaged food or other products in a pressurized vessel for purposes of sterilizing

Reverse Printing

Printing wrong-reading on the underside of transparent film. In this case, the outermost layer is printed on the backside and laminated to the rest of the multi-layer structure. While not mandatory in all industries, it is the preferred method for the food industry as it guarantees that there will be no ink contact with the food product. The majority of all products are reverse printed.

Roll Stock

Said of any flexible packaging material that is in a roll form. Also called film roll or roll film.

Rotogravure Printing – (Gravure)

With gravure printing, an image is etched on the surface of a metal plate, the etched area is filled with ink, then the plate is rotated on a cylinder that transfers the image to the film or other material. Gravure is abbreviated from Rotogravure.

Shrink Films

Oriented films that are not heat-set after orientation. These films can shrink back close to their unstretched dimension at temperatures higher than the temperature of their orientation. See PVC Shrink Film, PET-G Shrink Film, and OPS Shrink Film.

Stick Pouch

A narrow, flexible packaging pouch commonly used to package single-serve powder beverage mixes such as fruit drinks, instant coffee and tea, and sugar and creamer products.

Surface Print

The process whereby the ink is deposited directly onto the outermost surface of the packaging film or material. The process is most commonly used in short-run printing. A UV (ultraviolet) coating may be added to provide a hard exterior finish that prevents the ink from flaking or chipping.

Tear Strength

The resistance of a material to tearing.

Trap Print

Another term for Reverse Printing (see Reverse Printing). Trap printing derives its name from the fact that the ink is trapped between the outer layer of material and the substrate.

Vacuum Filling

The filling of containers with low-viscosity liquid product by drawing a vacuum on the sealed container. Vacuum filling requires the ability to form a good seal across the container finish and a container with sufficient rigidity that it will not collapse or distort under vacuum.

Vacuum Packaging

A method of packaging where the air is withdrawn from the primary pack. The usual objective of vacuum packaging is to remove atmospheric oxygen, which is implicated in most product degradation. Vacuum packaging, when using flexible packaging materials, also reduces volume to save transportation cost.

Vibratory Feed Filler

A method of moving product through a filling or transport system by inducing a vibration in a sloped tray at about the resonance frequency of the product. In effect, the product periodically becomes momentarily weightless, and in this state will descend the feed tray slope for a short distance.

VMPET – Vacuum Metallized PET Film

It has all the good properties of PET film, plus much improved oxygen and water vapor barrier properties.

Zipper Pouch

A resealable or resealable pouch produced with a plastic track in which two plastic components interlock to provide a mechanism that allows for reseal in a flexible packaging.

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