The perfect cut for sustainable packaging materials

Bio-films and recyclable packaging materials are growing enormously in importance. Consumers increasingly take the sustainability of packaging into account when purchasing, thus it becomes often becomes the decisive selling point. Alternative packaging materials have very specific material properties that must be taken into account when cutting, to ensure economic efficiency and sustainability.

Marc Ohnhäuser, Commercial Manager at Winterhoff Picard, has been observing this development for some time. The long-established company from Remscheid manufactures machine knives for consumer articles, from confectionery to hygiene products, in close consultation with its customers. This means that high output volumes can also be guaranteed for sustainable tubular packaging: “Bio-films are a topic for the future. But films made from renewable raw materials or compostable material have very specific material properties. They can have completely different properties than conventional plastic films or be more paper-like in texture. Knives have to be individually adapted to this in order to cut slits, flaps and tear-open aids perfectly. If a customer wants to use sustainable packaging materials, we can offer them individualized solutions,” he explains. “At Winterhoff Picard, sustainability has always been part of the company philosophy, because the use of high-quality materials with optimal knife geometry means that the knives offer long service lives. This conserves resources and convinces in the long term through high economic efficiency,” adds Managing Director Dagmar Hüttebräucker with conviction.

New materials, new requirements

Alternative packaging materials consist of renewable raw materials, which usually break down again into their original biological components during composting. During transport and at the PoS, they protect the products from contamination and germs, keep them fresh and make the goods look attractive. Currently, both politicians and consumers are calling for the minimization of the ecological footprint and the reduction of CO2 consumption. The discussion about microplastics is also shaping consumer awareness. Paper packaging and bioplastics are a sustainable, sales-enhancing alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics. Organic products understandably demand equally organic packaging, from cookie and chip bags to hygiene products and cereals. Winterhoff Picard is well equipped for this change in the packaging industry and can competently support customers in their conversion process and find the optimum cutting geometry in each case in close exchange. If form fill and seal machines processed conventional plastic films in the past, they can usually be adapted to new materials such as paper by replacing the sealing and cutting unit. But there are many technical details to consider: Paper is more abrasive, more fibrous and more susceptible to cracking. Coatings can present additional challenges. The Winterhoff Picard team realizes high-quality machine knives made of optimized materials for these requirements, which offer long service lives and the desired cutting optics. The aim is to realize completely different cutting requirements with exactly the same knife dimensions.

Machine measurement development close to the customer

Around 60 experienced specialists develop approximately 1,000 new knife types per year and provide the industry with the technical and personal service that guarantees consistently high product and support quality. “Often, the technical buyer or the maintenance manager of a manufacturer approaches us with an initial idea and together, step by step, we develop the cutting tool with the optimum geometry and service life. We use prototypes to test on the machines before we manufacture the final product in OEM quality,” explains Managing Director Ralf Hüttebräucker. Marc Ohnhäuser nods and adds: “This is generally true for us, for the group business as well as for highly specialized medium-sized companies. In a cost-benefit comparison, our high-end products are the most economical solution due to their tool life, cutting quality, cutting speed and setup time savings. This is also the feedback we receive time and again from our satisfied customers, confirming that we are on the right track.”

Pioneering product innovations emerge from many years of experience

Already in its fifth generation, the company, founded in 1865, follows the guiding principle “We are constantly developing, for the customer and with the customer”. Because no two jobs are the same. The Remscheid-based company manufactures foil knives, tubular bag separating knives, packaging and composite knives, plastic and rubber knives, paper and hygiene knives, knives for food processing and bio-film knives. Special knives and special shapes such as curved knives are also part of the portfolio and are sold worldwide. Quality “Made in Germany” is a claim at Winterhoff Picard that convinces customers locally as well as in Asia and the USA. Winterhoff Picard develops and manufactures highly complex machine knives, as single pieces or in large quantities. Each knife is made according to the customer.

In large quantities or custom made in small quantities. The customer decides whether to manufacture according to the original drawing, sketch or even sample, which materials are used, how surfaces are finished and coated. This allows machine knives to be produced with a precision that hardly any competitor can match. Flexibility and adherence to schedules are a matter of course for the Winterhoff Picard team. The company is based in Remscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia, the center of metal processing in Germany. The production facility is located directly on the A1 and has just been enlarged. To this end, the production hall was rebuilt, creating plenty of space for new, state-of-the-art, attractive workplaces. Marc Ohnhäuser spreads out the blueprint of the modernized production building on his desk: “Through continuous innovation, Winterhoff Picard is becoming even more efficient and is looking confidently to the future. Further development can only take place if you proactively look to the future, know customer needs and think along with them. We have achieved a lot, but we also have a lot ahead of us. The entire team of specialists at Winterhoff Picard is looking forward to that.”

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