A recent new entry into the North American tube market may offer a different look for the tube. It will certainly offer a different production process.
The SOFTube, made by Obrinova AG, a subsidiary of H. Obrist & Co. AG (Reinach, Switzerland), and marketed in North America by Ever Corp. (St. Louis), is essentially a sachet with a tube neck and closure fastened to it. The product, which can be made of a foil laminate or plastic, combines some qualities of a tube and some qualities of other forms of flexible packaging, says Chris Dawson, vice president of sales, international products, for Ever.
With its neck and closure, it applies a product like a tube, but it is manufactured more like a pouch.
"With standard flexible packaging, you essentially violate the integrity of the package to open it, which limits it to single-use applications," Dawson says. "This concept allows you to reuse the container until the product is gone."
The package is produced in a single process on a single piece of equipment. The operator feeds in a sheet of foil, and the machine forms a pouch by heat-sealing the sides together. The neck opening is cut into the pouch, the neck is inserted, and then the closure is applied. The pouch is then filled with the product, and its back end is sealed and trimmed.
"One advantage to this process is its implications for a customer's inventory," Dawson says. "There will no longer be a need to store boxes of tubes or bottles in the warehouse."
He also notes that changeover times are very short, allowing customers speed and flexibility if more than one package size or product being filled is involved.
Ever and Obrist intend to pitch SOFTube to the pharmaceutical market. "We see it in areas such as prescription ointments sold to people who use them on a long-term basis, rather than a one-shot application," Dawson says.
The product is sold as part of a package concept that includes the machinery, which can be put on the customer's production line without the need for contract fillers or outside tube manufacturers.