The EFRO research project ‘VerpakkingsCentrum’, prepared by Prof. Dr Dirk Franco in collaboration with former managing director Jef Vanhees, was approved in December 1997. With the appointment of Philip De Schepper as project manager (May 1998) and Dr Roos Peeters as project coordinator (June 1998) started the concretization of this project.
2 Million € was financed with EFRO resources co-financed by Flanders and former university college 'XIOS'. These resources were invested in the development of a laboratory area with measurement equipment for :
gas permeability of materials/packaging
characterization of (packaging) materials (plastics, paper and cardboard)
characterizing effects of environmental variables
Additional finances, acquired from approved EFRO-projects, first created the possibility of introducing a fifth item 'eco-design' within the service delivery. On the other hand, the further development of the permeability-equipment and the up-scaling of the transport simulation equipment to test on pallet level, was achieved.
With the stimulating effect of subsidies for service orders within de defined EFRO regions, we experienced an excellent start with requests and orders of the industry. The result is that the Packaging Technology Centre has grown to a well-known independent service research cell.
With the accumulated knowledge and expertise the qualified staff provides to 250 orders per year for 100 different companies from various Industrial sectors such as automotive, pharmaceutical, food industry, chemicals, cosmetics, ....
Today 'the Packaging Technology Centre' offers 3 main activities: direct service delivery to companies, financed projects in collaboration with companies and applied fundamental research. The expertise of the Packaging Technology Centre is aimed to PACKAGING TECHNOLOGY, this focal point includes the two aspects: material and process.
Due to the academisation process within the 4-year university college education, the applied, more fundamental research developed in the form of PhD studies. Within the research of the PhDs, there are 2 research topics, both of which are focusing on the screening and optimization (nanotechnology, additivation, blending,...) of material properties of the traditional plastics and the newer bioplastics. Specific attention is given to the effects on material properties: gas permeability, mechanical properties and biodegradation.
The application-oriented character of the subsidized project research (Flanders Food MaProDe_Ox and IWT TETRA OPTITHE_OX²: thermoforming - OTR - material - design and the IWT-VIS project: seal research) is visible in the intense collaboration with the companies in these projects.
Not only companies are our favorite partners, also collaborations with other research groups, research institutes and universities, national and international, make it possible to answer research questions scientifically correct and complete.
The research team consists of about 9 people, including 2 professors, 4 project engineers for services, 1 project engineer within the projects and 3 PhD students.
The Packaging Technology Centre is linked to the Flanders unique eductation bachelor and master Packaging Technology. This master education for Industrial Engineering Sciences Packaging Technology focuses on materials, automation and production processes, design, environment and logistics.
On October 1, 2013 the Industrial Engineering education as well as the research group Packaging Technology Centre integrated in the University of Hasselt. The Packaging Technology Centre becomes a research group within the research institute IMO-IMOMEC.
From January 6, 2014 VerpakkingsCentrum is located in the Technology Center on the University Campus in Diepenbeek.
With modern characterization and test techniques and a correct scientific interpretation of the test results, VerpakkingsCentrum performs company services and scientific research. In strong collaborations with other research groups and institutions, plus the companies the Packaging Technology Centre wishes, with her knowledge and expertise, to cooperate in research / solving research questions that lead to innovations in the industrial chain. In its complementary operation with the Master education Packaging Technology, it supports educating young people into skilled engineers with dedication, integrity and a vision within the community.