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The ready-meal market is very dynamic and is growing steadily worldwide. Demand for chilled ready meals is growing by around 10% annually. Today, many of these are packed in unattractive plastic trays which lose rigidity when heated.
Steel packaging solves this problem and has added value thanks to its environmental performance. Unlike plastic trays, steel is fully recyclable after use and does not require secondary cardboard packaging to keep it rigid. For environmentally conscious brands, steel is the clear choice.
The shape of the microwave tray determines the grade to be used. Other critical factors which affect grade selection include the ratio of height to diameter, and the type of wall (straight or conical for example). Considerations for specific applications include:
Where print quality must be preserved after deformation, the packaging steel should have low anisotropy. This minimises trim.
For rectangular or oval microwave trays, lower strength grades are used in continuous annealing applications – typically TH330 and TH415. In batch annealing, grades TS245 and TS260 are recommended.
For complex shapes with conical walls or non-linear contours, packaging steel grades with very high formability are required.
ArcelorMittal’s Creasteel® grade is perfectly suitable for drawn cans which are low height and have a large diameter (90 mm and above). It is also possible to draw Creasteel® into high-quality, attractively shaped containers thanks to its soft mechanical properties, excellent formability, and high elongation (more than 35%). Creasteel®trays can be drawn in a single operation without any wrinkles. This significantly reduces the time and investment required to develop a new and unique shape.
Metallic coating: Tin coating or ECCS. ECCS can be used when the can’s contents are not aggressive. ECCS also assists lacquer adhesion.