Cécile Pompili, Sales Manager and Global Product Manager for Airless & Dispensing Systems at Lumson provides an in-depth analysis of airless packaging. Whether used in the beauty or pharmaceutical markets, airless packaging is now a necessity to support formulations, regulations, and consumers. Read on to discover what airless packaging is and how it works...
Hello Cécile, what do you do at Lumson?
I am the Sales Manager and Global Product Manager Airless & Dispensing Manager for Lumson. I joined the company just over a year ago, however I have many years of experience working within the packaging industry. Previously I worked at Promens —before it joined RPC Group— as the airless cosmetic product manager and I also worked for Aptar Pharma as the product manager for airless pharma products. Because of my vast experience in airless packaging, I am Lumson's airless specialist.
Are airless products a main feature in Lumson's product portfolio?
Lumson is a specialist in airless packaging. The company has a very wide range of airless products including both plastic and glass bottles and jars which benefit from pouch technology, or "bag-in-bottle" technology as it is also known. The cosmetic and cosmeceutical markets both benefit from our airless packaging.
We have two plants which combined allow us 27 thousand square metres of manufacturing space. The plant just outside of Venice is dedicated to blow moulding, injection blow molding and there we have the capability to produce pouches made of three different materials, such as polyethylene, polyamide —which provides an excellent oxygen barrier— and EVOH. We are one of only four manufacturers in Europe to offer such range in the airless market.
The airless pouches can then be integrated into bottles or jars made from either glass or plastic and can even be incorporated into a drum. These airless products are one of Lumson's principal technologies which the company is known for, together with injection moulded and assembly of airless pumps which are manufactured in Milan - whereby we produce roughly 55 million pieces!
Why is airless packaging important?
Technology has allowed airless packaging to develop to such a level that formula can be delivered with a very low level of preservatives. Formulations, regulations and consumers all support preservative-free products and it is now a necessity in many industries, rather than a trend.
Can you tell us about some of the different airless systems you offer, the benefits, and how the products differ?
Absolutely! At Lumson there are two main airless system technologies available. The piston system named the "One o One" range, and the pouch systems with ranges named "TAG" (glass version) and "APP" (plastic version) with an extension to an airless jar called "Envers".
Each system has different advantages for customers according to their or the product's requirements.
The piston system is utilized by about 90% of the market nowadays and the One o One system is a significant enhancement of this which is why we consider it to be a separate system. The primary advantages of the piston system are the excellent restitution rate and also the price.
Lumson's pouch technology is one of the best airless options available for the preservation of formula. When PA or EVOH is incorporated into the pouch it is without doubt the best barrier that is available right now.
One o One as I mentioned previously was developed from the piston system. At Lumson, we were specialist in pouch airless technology, but there was a huge demand for masstige customers and brands. Masstige products required great quality finishes which we were extremely well positioned to offer, but the technology required to fit the market was more price-challenging.
Due to need, development started three to four years ago on developing the 30ml piston system together with a new pump engine in atmospheric and airless version. Our Purity pump which offers 150 µl – 230 µl – 250 µl doses is a very efficient pump with optimized functionalities. This engine is available with many types of external components specifically designed by Lumson: stepped or straight collar (metal or plastic), actuator (different shapes), cap (choice of materials), etc. The assembled result of the airless version of the pump with piston bottle was presented at the recent PCD exhibition.
This new airless system is a very attractive proposition. There were some great piston ranges on the market, but they were not specifically designed for easy industrialization and airless packaging is a good example of this. Noting the space in the market, we designed some system components —in particular the piston and pump housing— in order to improve the functionality of the piston systems. The system's composition resulted in the piston moving inside the barrel with a pump that was designed to go deep into the piston so that when the product is depleted almost NOTHING is left inside the packaging. It was quite a project but the result is one of the best restitution rates available on the market. The market averages a specification of 90% restitution, while the One o One is 95% and it is one of the key features which make it really stand out in the market.
We took advantage of our airless pump experience to make a very soft actuation system —very ergonomic— with an actuator shape of Italian design. One of its principal benefits is that the consumer can even stop in the middle of the actuation, without any problem, - even when dispensing very viscous formulations.
After the 30ml size we developed 15ml and 50ml options so that we can now offer a full range of piston systems. The One o One has proven itself to be the ideal system for dermatological formulations.
What other factors had to be considered when designing the One o One?
The One o One was created as an economical solution for the market and in order to make it an even more advantageous, offering filling and assembly were integral features in the conception phase. The One o One was designed so that it could be filled really easily, and integrated into an existing filling line, a factor which some companies are afraid of. No specific equipment is required on the filling line and the bottle neck diameter is quite large to allow the filling nozzle to enter, which means that filling time is faster. Good filling practice requires that it be filled through a following nozzle (movement of the nozzle from the bottom up to the top) to ensure that no air is trapped inside. Good practice that almost any customer is capable of doing. The finished product is relatively simple to put together. The assembled pump part (pump – cap) is snapped on the assembled bottle part (bottle & piston). So, essentially it's just two components delivered.
Does Lumson offer other products or solutions?
We've developed two moulds for the overcap, one in PP and the other SMMA, so that customers can elect the material which they prefer for the cap. We also do decoration and offer many different decoration options to provide finished options that really stand out on the shelf. As well as this, because we have a mould maker integrated into our manufacturing plant, if a customer asks for a different cap or actuator shape, for example, we can do that. We produce 125 million plastic bottles and also make bespoke designs for customers.
As an Italian company, do you only work with Italian companies?
All of Lumson's products are designed and created by the company in Italy, but they are supplied worldwide. Many customers trust us implicitly as they know we produce everything here in Europe, but our sales network is extensive incorporating France, Germany, Italy and the USA on both the east and west coasts.
Lumson's MOQs are not too high either. We start at 5000 and 10,000 units depending on the product which makes us an accessible choice for many companies.
What's next for airless at Lumson?
Lumson made a large investment into the One o One to ensure that it would be one of the best solutions for the market economically and in terms of the company's production capacity. The full range of 15, 30 and 50ml has been producing many enquiries since it was launched at Cosmoprof Worldwide back in March as brands, beauty brands in particular, want to use the system to launch their serums, eye treatments, facial formulations and more, therefore, the company will be focusing a lot on this system for a while.
Lumson's next foray is into PET bottles. We've already launched some really nice new PET bottles; convex and purely cylindrical with different capacities. We're currently developing the whole process of injection blow moulding and this is an important strategy for the company in the European market. The use of PET ensures differentiation and because we make everything internally we can ensure the quality which our customers know and expect of us. It also means that we can maintain our strategy of doing everything with a continuous process. The bottle is really good and benefits from no stress in the material; it's something which is expensive for us, but important for looking to the future.
Lumson is really on the ball and understands the market. Even if I weren't working at Lumson I would have to say that technically Lumson offers the best solutions in airless.