US 20030118801 A1
A three part laminated material for use in making blister packages and a method of making such a material. The material is comprised of a central core layer of fluoro-polymer based sheet material to each side of which a separate polymer film is adhesively attached. In the preferred embodiment, each of the polymer films is polyvinyl chloride, although a variety of chemically different films may be used. The disclosed material provides a high moisture barrier, a stable inter-laminar structure and outer surfaces which lend themselves well to bonding with other materials.
1. A thermoformable laminated material having high moisture vapor barrier characteristics for use in a blister package comprised of:
a fluoro-polymer-based sheet material;
a first polymer film attached to a first side of said fluoro-polymer-based sheet material; and
a second polymer film attached to the opposing side of said fluoro-polymer-based sheet material.
2. The laminated material of
3. The laminated material of
4. The laminated material of
5. The laminated material of
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7. The laminated material of
8. The laminated material of
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10. The laminated material of
11. A thermoformable laminated material having high moisture vapor barrier characteristics for use in a blister package comprised of:
a fluoro-polymer-based sheet material having a thickness in the approximate range of 0.6 mils and 3.0 mils;
a first polyvinyl chloride film having a thickness in the approximate range of 5.0 mils to 15 mils. adhesively attached by means of a heat-activated dry bond laminating adhesive to a first side of said fluoro-polymer-based sheet material; and
a second polyvinyl chloride film having a thickness in the approximate range of 5.0 mils to 15 mils. adhesively attached by means of a heat-activated dry bond laminating adhesive to a first side of said fluoro-polymer-based sheet material.
12. A method employing a corona treater, a vertical forced air convection dryer, a horizontal convection dryer, a motor driven rewind and a chilled cylinder for making a three part thermoformable laminated sheet material for use in a blister package wherein the laminated material has a first outer layer formed from PVC film stored on a first unwind, a core layer formed of a fluoro-polymer-based sheet material stored on a first laminating unwind and a second outer layer formed from PVC film stored on a second laminating unwind comprised of the steps of:
unwinding the first outer layer of PVC film from the first unwind;
passing the unwound PVC film through the corona treater;
applying a water-based adhesive to the corona-treated surface of the first outer layer of PVC film using reverse gravure coating;
transporting the adhesive-coated first outer layer of PVC film through a vertical forced air convection dryer;
unwinding the fluoro-polymer-based sheet material from the first laminating unwind;
moving the fluoro-polymer-based sheet material through the corona treater;
laminating the first outer layer of PVC film with dried adhesive directly to one side of the fluoro-polymer-based sheet material by means of a hot nip;
transporting the resulting two layer laminated structure through the horizontal forced air convection dryer;
cooling the two layer laminated structure by moving it across the chilled cylinder;
rewinding the two layer laminated structure onto the motor driven rewind;
unwinding the two layer laminated structure from the rewind;
passing the two layer laminated structure through the corona treater;
applying a water-based adhesive to the fluoro-polymer-based sheet material surface of the corona-treated two layer laminated structure using reverse gravure coating;
transporting the adhesive-coated two layer laminated structure through the vertical forced air convection dryer;
unwinding the second outer layer of PVC film from the second laminating unwind;
moving the second outer layer of PVC film through a corona treater;
laminating the second outer layer of PVC film directly to the remaining exposed surface of the fluoro-polymer-based sheet material by means of a hot nip;
transporting the resulting three layer laminated structure through the horizontal forced air convection dryer;
cooling the three layer laminated structure by moving it across the chilled cylinder; and
rewinding the three layer laminated structure onto the rewind.
13. The method of
 The present invention claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/343401, filed Dec. 21, 2001.
 The subject invention relates generally to a three component laminate barrier film used for packaging and a method for making such a film. The film is particularly useful where a high barrier material having a fluoro-polymer content is used in pharmaceutical packaging and must be bonded on both surfaces with other materials to produce a blister package.
 Blister packaging, has applications in a variety of industries including the food and medical markets. But it is in the pharmaceutical area where metered provision to patients of ampoules, tablets or capsules to patients provided in blister packs occurs that it has found its broadest application in the past. This type of packaging typically consists of a thermoformed blister to the top side of which an information bearing material is applied and to the bottom side of which a tear susceptible material such as aluminum foil is applied. Blister packages used in the pharmaceutical industry also have particularly demanding requisites which the packaging industry has found difficult to meet concurrently in a single product formulation.
 One of these demands is for a package having high moisture vapor barrier characteristics. This type of barrier is called for to protect stored products from environmentally-based deterioration. Such a barrier can be achieved by including a layer comprised of a fluoro-polymer material such as ACLAR®-laminated vinyl. ACLAR® is a poly chloro-tri-fluoro ethylene film and is a registered trademark of Honeywell, Inc. However, due precisely to their high fluorine content, it is extremely difficult for other substrates to adhere to such films. As a result, it has been necessary to use separate adhesives and adhesive application and curing techniques to achieve a bond between other substrates, such as aluminum foil or PVC, and laminates having a high fluorine content. For example, a dry-bond laminating adhesive may be used to provide adequate adhesion between PVC and a high fluorine content laminate.
 In some blister package designs, it is desirable to apply a printed PVC card displaying important product information to one side of a high fluorine content surface and an aluminum foil lidding to its other side. There do not appear to be any adequate aluminum foil or plastics heat seal coatings for sealing to a high fluorine content surface. Consequently, in the past it has been necessary in such cases to produce a basic PVC/Aclar® product using a dry bonding laminating adhesive and then to heat seal aluminum foil to the PVC surface while adhering the printed PVC card to the high fluorine content surface by means of ultrasonic welding. The PVC card is provided with a heat seal coating on the side opposite of the printing to allow for adhering the card to the high fluorine content surface by means of ultrasonic welding. The ultrasonic welding process increases the temperature of the high fluorine content surface and the PVC card, allowing the two materials to fuse together. The resultant product has several disadvantages. First, there is poor adhesion between the high fluorine content surface and the coated surface of the printed PVC card so that the printed PVC cards will occasionally detach from the blister package. The poor adhesion is due to the basic incompatibility between the high fluorine content surface and the adhesive-coated PVC card. Second, the ultrasonic welding increases the temperature of the blister package which can create holes in the package. These holes can compromise the package barrier thereby causing leaking. Finally, the ultrasonic welding of the package is performed manually at a significant cost in time and labor thereby reducing productivity and increasing costs.
 There exists, therefore, a need for a material having the high moisture vapor barrier properties of a high fluorine content layer but without the adhesive difficulties inherent in layers comprised of fluoro-polymers alone or the disadvantages encountered when ultrasonic welding is used.
 The present invention relates to blister packages. It has particular utility in the pharmaceutical industry for the packaging, storing and dispersal of medications although it may also be used in a variety of other fields such as the food industry and general retailing. A three part laminate film for use in such packaging is disclosed which may be thermoformed and includes a high moisture barrier. The central core layer of the laminate is a fluoro-polymer-based sheet material. Separate polymer films are attached adhesively to each side of the central core layer. The polymer films may be the same or differ from each other chemically depending on the characteristics sought.
 An alternative embodiment would provide a package structure in which the laminated film would not be thermoformed but would be used as a flat sheet to which a pouch containing a product could be attached.
 It is a primary objective of this invention to provide a laminated material for use in blister packaging incorporating a fluoro-polymer which can be readily sealed on both surfaces while maintaining good inter-laminar strength within the laminated material itself.
 An additional objective of this invention is to provide a laminated film for use in blister packaging having a high moisture barrier.
 Another objective of this invention is to provide a laminated film incorporating a core fluoro-polymer layer to which both aluminum foil and plastic heat seal coatings can be applied.
 It is a further objective of this invention to provide a laminated film which reduces the length of time needed for ultrasonic welding in the package forming process thereby virtually eliminating the likelihood that holes will be created in the resulting blister package due to prolonged exposure to increased temperatures associated with the welding process.
 It is yet another objective of this invention to provide a laminated film which will increase the speed with which blister packages requiring high moisture barriers can be made by replacing manual ultrasonic welding with automated ultrasonic welding thereby increasing productivity and reducing costs.
 It is still another objective of this invention to provide a laminated film with improved inter-laminar adhesion and decreased likelihood of inter-laminar detachment.
 Yet an additional objective of this invention is to provide a laminated film for use in a blister packages which have a lower coefficient of friction and better “denest” properties than similar packages of the prior art.
 Still another objective of this invention is to provide a three layer laminated structure to the outer surface of which a PVC printed card will adhere without the need for a heat seal coating, thereby reducing production costs and wherein the structure includes a core layer comprised of a fluoro-polymer product.
 The foregoing and other objects, aspects and advantages of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of the invention with reference to the drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a blister package incorporating the fluoro-polymer laminated layer of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a fluoro-polymer laminated layer as used in the package of FIG. 1.
 For a more detailed understanding of the invention, reference is first made to FIG. 1 of the drawings. This figure illustrates a cross-sectional view of a blister package 2 having a laminated layer 4 which is preferably thermoformed into a shape including protrusions 6 into which pills 8 may be inserted prior to sealing of the package with aluminum foil layer 10. A first adhesive layer 12 may be used to attach layer 10 to a first side of layer 4. A second adhesive layer 14 may be used to attach a printed PVC card 16 to a second opposing side of layer 4. Adhesive layers 12 and 14 are heat seal coatings which are activated by heat but are not tacky at room temperature. Typically, adhesive layers 12 and 14 are acrylic-vinyl coatings to allow them to seal adequately to PVC. Card 16 may be printed with important product information and/or graphics as desired by the end user.
 The structure of layer 4 is depicted in cross-section in FIG. 2. A first polymer film 18 may be attached by means of an adhesive 20 to one side of a fluoro-polymer-based product 22. A second polymer film 24 is then fixed, also by means of adhesive 20, to the opposing side of product 22. Adhesive 20 is typically a dry bond laminating adhesive which is heat activated and is tacky at room temperature. If polymer films 18 and 24 were different from each other, it might be necessary to use a different type of adhesive to cause each to adhere to the respective sides of product 22, but the adhesive chosen would be specifically chemically and physically compatible with that polymer film and product 22. Details of the process for forming layer 4 are set forth below. Polymer films 18 and 24 are preferably PVC but one or both may alternatively be other polymer films including, but not limited to, PETG, a rubber modified nitrile polymer such as Barex® (a registered trademark of BP Chemicals, Inc.), polypropylene or polystyrene. Each of these alternatives has different desirable properties. For example, where gamma sterilization is required, such as in the medical device industry, a PETG film can be used since PVC cannot be so sterilized without being degraded and yellowed. If an additional oxygen barrier is required, which occurs commonly in the food packaging industry for purposes of flavor protection of meats and cheeses and sometimes in the pharmaceutical industry, a rubber modified nitrile polymer film such as Barex® can be employed since it provides an additional oxygen barrier to the product along with the moisture barrier otherwise provided by product 22. In some cases, a halogen-free contact surface is required. In these instances, the use of polypropylene or polystyrene is appropriate. Polymer films 18 and 24 are preferably each approximately 5.0 mils thick although different thicknesses in the range of approximately 5.0 mils to 15 mils may be used. Product 22 is preferably a fluoro-polymer-based product and may be poly chloro-tri-fluoro ethylene such as Aclar®. Aclar® has good thermal and chemical stability and is well-suited for thermoforming processes. Furthermore, Aclar® is the transparent product having the highest moisture barrier currently available on the market. Only opaque aluminum foil has better moisture barrier properties. However, fluoro-polymer-based films from other manufacturers may also be used. In an alternative embodiment, a polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) product may be substituted for the fluoro-polymer product 22. Such a substitute would be desirable where both moisture and oxygen protection is sought. Since PVdC becomes tacky when heated, causing potential damage to machinery with which it comes in contact, and also emits a low level of HCl gas when heated, undesirably corroding machinery with which it is in close proximity, encapsulation of the PVdC between layers of PVC is required. Such encapsulation eliminates the tackiness and greatly minimizes the release of HCl gas. Product 22 preferably has a thickness of approximately 2 mils although the thickness can range from approximately 0.6 mils to 3.0 mils. Adhesive 20 is preferably a two-component water-based polyurethane dry-bond laminating adhesive. The polyurethane adhesive uses epoxy-amine cross-linking chemistry to achieve an excellent bond between polymer films 18 and 24 as well as product 22. Layer 4 may have a high gloss, be transparent, or be colored or opaque, as desired and is presented as a sheet-like material which may be stored and transported as a roll. A master roll of layer 4 when mass-produced has a typical width which may be between 1000 and 1600 millimeters and a typical length which may be between 1000 and 2500 meters. Master rolls may be converted to smaller slit rolls that may be typically produced in widths from 80 to 600 millimeters and lengths from 200 to 2500 meters.
 Table I presents an exemplary range of technical specifications for layer 4 in the case where PVC is used as polymer films 18 and 24 and Aclar® is used as product 22.
 The process of creating layer 4 involves two separate laminating operations. Where PVC is used as polymer films 18 and 24 and Aclar® comprises product 22, the first operation begins with unwinding the PVC substrate from a motor-driven winder. Motor driven winders are located on the unwind and rewind to control the speed of the material through the machine. Load cells are located throughout the machine to control and isolate the tension of the material throughout the process. After the PVC is unwound, the PVC passes through a corona treater, which increases the dyne level of the PVC to approximately 50 dyne. The corona treater serves to activate the surface of the PVC, to allow for better bond or adhesion of the adhesive to the PVC. After corona treatment, the water-based adhesive is applied to the surface of the PVC that has been corona treated. The water-based adhesive is applied by a reverse gravure coating method. Reverse gravure coating requires that the adhesive be supplied to a chrome plated engraved roll rotating in the reverse or opposite direction of the PVC web. The adhesive is metered to a precise quantity onto the PVC by a metal doctor blade. The engraved coating cylinder transfers the adhesive to the PVC. The coating cylinder is rotating at a speed between 90-150% of line-speed. The machine line-speed is anywhere between 50 m/min and 200 m/min. After the adhesive is applied to the PVC, it is transported into a vertical dryer. The vertical dryer uses forced air convection through slotted nozzles to remove the moisture from the adhesive and exhaust the moisture into the atmosphere. The drying air is heated to anywhere between 50-150° C. After leaving the dryer, the PVC with dried adhesive is laminated directly to the Aclar® by a hot nip. The hot nip uses a heated chrome roll and a rubber roll to bond the PVC and Aclar® together. The Aclar® laminate is transported into the nip from a motor driven laminating unwind. The Aclar® first travels through a corona treater to increase the dyne level of the Aclar® surface to approximately 50 dyne. The corona treated Aclar® surface is what is bonded to the PVC/adhesive surface in the hot nip laminator. Once the PVC and Aclar® are combined, the structure travels through the machine into another dryer. The second dryer is a horizontal forced air convection dryer with nozzles to supply heated air at a high velocity. The air is heated to approximately 50° C. The purpose of the dryer is to allow for complete drying of the adhesive and to allow for better bonding between the PVC and Aclar® by cross-linking or hardening the adhesive. After the PVC/Aclar® laminate structure leaves the second dryer, it is cooled by moving it across a chilled cylinder. After cooling the material is rewound into a roll by a motor driven rewind.
 The second operation is almost identical to the first with a few exceptions. The machine is operating under the same conditions as in the first operation. Instead of PVC being used as the original substrate on the primary unwind, the PVC/Aclar® lamination is placed on the primary unwind. Instead of Aclar® being placed on the laminating unwind, PVC is placed on the laminating unwind. The rest of the process is the same as the above description. The adhesive is applied directly to the Aclar® side of the PVC/Aclar® laminate after the Aclar® surface is corona treated. The PVC on the laminating unwind is also corona treated to 50 dyne. The corona treated surface of the PVC is laminated directly to the Aclar side of the PVC/Aclar® laminate. The resulting three layer laminated material may then be wound onto a winder and shipped or used for further processing to make blister packages as described above.
 By employing layer 4 in the above-described blister package and manufacturing layer 4 as described above, several advantages are secured. First, the structure of layer 4 permits printed PVC card 16 to be sealed to the PVC blister surface with significantly improved adhesion and without subsequent detachment from layer 4. Second, when printed PVC card 16 is ultrasonically welded to layer 4, less processing time is required since manual ultrasonic welding is no longer necessary, as it was in the prior art. In order to use an automated ultrasonic welding process, a product must be provided which can seal printed cards to packages at the same speed that a blister machine produces packages. In prior art PVC/fluoro-polymer structured packages, the PVC/fluoro-polymer could not be sealed fast enough in the ultrasonic welding process to keep up with the blister machine. Thus, the blister machine would run at less than 50% of capacity due to the bottleneck created by the ultrasonic welding process. Layer 4 of the present invention eliminates this bottleneck permitting automatic ultrasonic welding and maximum utilization of the capacity of blister machines. In addition, due to the increased process speed, the temperature of blisters produced is reduced. Due to this reduced temperature, an insignificant number of leaking blisters are produced. This represents a significant improvement from other products known in the art. Third, the reduced processing time for ultrasonic welding allows the package to be assembled without any production bottlenecks. Elimination of manual ultrasonic welding allows the product to be produced on an automated machine. Finally, packages produced with the PVC/fluoro-polymer/PVC layer 4 of this invention have a lower coefficient of friction than similar packages of the prior art employing a PVC/fluoro-polymer structure. It is sometimes desirable to have good “denest” properties, meaning that multiple packages stacked together can be easily separated. PVC has a lower coefficient of friction than fluoro-polymers so that a structure in which PVC, rather than a fluoro-polymer, is the surface exposed during stacking has improved “denest” properties.
 An alternative package structure could employ layer 4 in a flat, non-thermoformed configuration. A pouch containing a product could then be attached to layer 4. Such a use would be desirable due to the two-sided sealing characteristics of layer 4.
 Although various elements in the previously described embodiments of this invention have been disclosed with reference to particular types of materials, it should be understood that the functions performed by these materials may also be performed in appropriate cases by other types of materials and that this invention is not limited by reference to the specific materials disclosed. Furthermore, the embodiments described above are not to be construed as the only possible implementations of this invention. Other embodiments are possible so long as the structure, method and advantages described above are preserved.