NOVA Updates Software for Design of Sustainable Film Structures

Standup pouches are among the multilayer structures that can be developed with the Bonfire Platform.
Standup pouches are among the multilayer structures that can be developed with the Bonfire Platform. Courtesy of Nova Chemicals

A free tool for customers and value chain collaborators, the software speeds development of sustainable flexible packaging by helping designers and engineers shortlist formulations and reduce the number of physical trials. The platform helps converters achieve sustainability goals through material reduction (i.e., downgauging), transition from multimaterial laminates to recyclable PE structures and closing the materials’ loop with use of post-consumer resin (PCR).  

The latest version adds several modules and enhancements:  

  • Laminations-structure builder.  
  • Sealant dashboard  
  • Molecular architecture dashboard.  
  • PCR addition guide.  

The laminations-structure builder is a key addition to capabilities that predicts properties for adhesive laminations made from a print web and a sealant web. In the past, these laminates have commonly been made from mixed materials, such as a metalized PET print web with a PE sealant web. With a growing number of consumers citing recyclability as the most important feature of packaging (based on a 2021 Nova Chemicals survey), designers are looking for help to change these structures into mono-material, recyclable formulations.  

“The Bonfire Platform has become a robust online tool that many customers rely on when they’re developing new film structures,” says Dan Ward, technical service specialist and the Bonfire Platform architect. “Adding the laminations module helps simplify the complex process of designing films for recyclable packaging that brands, retailers and consumers are demanding.”  

Two new resin information dashboards provide valuable data to help select the best resins for an application. In the sealant dashboard, users compare seal properties of up to five resins; results are presented in table and visual chart formats. The molecular architecture dashboard provides differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results, which quantify the thermal properties of a resin including melting points, crystallinity and heat of fusion. Similar to the sealant dashboard, up to five resins can be compared and presented in table and chart formats.  

Bonfire 5.0 also adds Nova’s portfolio of PCR to its resin database, enabling users to predict the performance of structures that include recycled content. “To fully close the loop on the plastics circular economy, structures must be recyclable and include recycled content,” says Greg DeKunder, vice president of polyethylene and circular economy. “With the addition of PCR grades, our proprietary platform allows users to design truly circular structures that meet their applications’ sustainability and performance requirements.”  

Rob Clare, applications development specialist, depends on the platform when he’s working with customers on new film formulations. “Bonfire is an incredible time-saver for Nova and for our film producers. It allows me to virtually screen potential film structures, narrow the scope of extrusion trials and physical testing needed for new packaging development, and save customers several days of film production and packaging trial time,” he says.  

Bonfire was launched in 2014 as a single module—the Multilayer Property Predictor. It has grown to include almost a dozen predictors, calculators and resin information modules, along with the Bonfire Academy learning hub.  

The development team continues to work on new features and enhancements that will encompass more parameters that help predict packaging performance, enable recyclability and accelerate the move towards a circular economy.  

By Plastics Engineering | May 31, 2023

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