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Valmet and Metsä Group’s Metsä Spring innovative demo plant produces a user-friendly, sustainable and scalable 3D fiber that can be shaped into desired forms, such as Muoto® moulded fibre-based packaging. Wet wood pulp is directly processed into final 3D fibre products without any intermediate steps
“Plastic is everywhere. It will continue to have a role in the future, but the growing packaging industry requires a variety of new sustainable alternatives; Muoto is our answer to these needs. This brand new, wood-based packaging has attracted a great deal of interest in our customer base,” says Jarkko Tuominen, Metsä Group’s Project Director.
“We’ve moved quickly from an idea that emerged in our internal training programme to a demo plant thanks to our competence and – of course – our excellent partner network. There is every reason to be proud of the Finnish forest industry’s capacity for renewal.
“The core objectives of our project have been high quality, safety and sustainability from the outset. We have succeeded in creating a wood fibre-based product that meets these objectives. We can continue to develop the Muoto product for the packaging industry for various purposes. International recognition confirms the value of our innovation and encourages the team and partner network in the development.”
“This award is a recognition for Valmet’s forward-looking innovation mindset as well as for the hard work and dedication of the development team of Valmet, Metsä Group and our co-operation partners. The award serves as a testament to our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible and driving technology forward in our field,” says Sampo Immonen, R&D Director, Board and Paper Mills, Valmet.
The joint development project competed in the category of Potential Innovations. The evaluation criteria were novelty value, usability, learning, customer orientation and effectiveness. The official award ceremony took place at the end of February in Kazakhstan.
According to Valmet, moulded fiber packaging is predicted to be the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry in terms of relative growth rate.
The Metsä Spring demo plant was inaugurated in August 2022 with the goal to develop a competitive and recyclable fiber-based package to replace plastics. The products are manufactured ready-to-use for different end uses. Thanks to the multi-layer structure, their properties, such as strength and surface smoothness, stand out from products made with competing methods.
The 3D technology integrates the production process of both the packaging material and the packaging itself on one production line and guarantees a resource-efficient workflow, for example in terms of water use. The line has a high degree of automation and a large production capacity. No waste is generated in the process since the side streams can be reused.
After the current demo phase is completed, market testing of the products with pilot customers will follow. If market interest and product viability are proven, Metsä Group will consider building a larger production unit.
The Quality Innovation Award is an international, prestigious innovation competition, which recognizes the best innovations of the year. In November 2022, Metsä Spring won the local Quality Innovation Award competition organized by the Finnish quality association Excellence Finland, after which the innovation was able to participate in the international competition.