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Research Capabilities

What are the Research Thrusts of the Consortium?

Reflecting the particular expertise resident at Cal Poly, as well as the program’s working relationships with other investigators elsewhere in the world, the Consortium tends to focus its R & D activities on the following domains of packaging science and technology: 

Package Forensics: Current global manufacturing trends require goods and materials to flow throughout the world in what many consider to be poorly understood distribution environments and channels. Utilizing state-of-the-art data recorders, with sensor technologies for metrics such as temperature, pressure, relative humidity, light, speed, pressure, impacts and vibration, comprehensive awareness of relatively new, unfamiliar distribution channels is established, while also providing the basis for proper testing utilizing traditional lab equipment that can better simulate these channels. In this area radio frequency identification (RFID) research is likely to be an area of special concentration. 

Packaging Safety: With the increased emphasis on plastics recycling, concerns of migration of plasticizers, heavy metals and other compounds from both virgin and recycled plastics have increased. The food safety of various plastics is being determined using state-of-the-art analytical methods such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and inductively-coupled plasma spectrophotometry. 

Package Design: Besides being the “ silent salesman,” a package is also responsible for delivering an undamaged, marketable product— and making sure the silent salesman’s message remains completely intact as well. Packaging fulfills the functions of containment, protection, communication, and utility. To deliver a product from manufacturer to customer in the shape and form intended requires a complete packaging system that is capable of withstanding the hazards of distribution environment. Packages are prototyped and tested for products ranging from electronics to perishables using all substrates employed by the packaging industry today. 

Sustainable Packaging: Sustainable packaging is referred to as that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. These include products and systems that are environmentally-benign, socially equitable and economically viable. Some of the current drivers for sustainable packaging include customer and consumer demands, legislation and recent international reports and policies. Materials are being analyzed for their thermoplastic properties and permeation characteristics and validated for their recycled content. Life Cycle Assessment based studies are included towards quantifying the environmental burdens of currently used and prospective packaging solutions. 

Testing and Analytical Equipment 

Consortium Capabilities