Morongwa Themba, general manager of Nampak R&D in Epping, with the new scanning electron microscope from Thermo Fischer Scientific

Nampak invests in world class scanning electron microscope

Supports problem-solving abilities for customers, enables greater cost savings and improved efficiency

NAMPAK, Africa’s largest packaging company, has invested in a state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope (SEM). The newly acquired microscope is housed at the company’s Research & Development division in Cape Town.

“We made the investment at the end of last year and are already seeing the benefits from this advanced scientific equipment,” says Morongwa Themba, general manager of Nampak R&D in Epping. “The high-quality imaging of the SEM supports our problem-solving abilities for customers while also enabling greater cost savings and improved efficiency.”

Supplied by Scientific & Precision Solutions, the Thermo Fisher Scientific Axia Chemi SEM is the fourth scanning electron microscope purchased by Nampak R&D in its 77-year history. The microscope has undergone significant technological advancements since the company bought its last SEM in 2009.

“Nampak is the only packaging company on the continent with this unique analytical capability,” says Themba. “The addition of this new SEM allows us to solve more challenges for Nampak’s various divisions as they look to provide customers with the most innovative packaging solutions from paper and plastic to metals.”

The R&D division has recently applied the new SEM’s capabilities to material development with a particular focus on coatings, metals, and plastics. The microscope has supported the Nampak Plastics division in the chemical analysis of masterbatch samples as well as foreign object identification. In addition, the SEM can assist in verifying specifications and identifying counterfeit material.

The SEM has also helped Nampak Liquid Cartons to identify, and problem solve challenges around liquid cartons such as measuring sealant layers on the inside of the carton.

“It is extremely useful in failure and root cause analyses, as well as assisting customers in the identification of foreign matter found in packaged products,” says Themba.

“It’s investment in modern equipment such as SEMs that allows Nampak to continue to be a market leader and widely regarded as the most advanced packaging science and technology facility in the Southern Hemisphere,” adds Themba. “Our R&D division provides crucial scientific support and services exclusively to Nampak customers.”

The previous SEM is now at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg. Due to the equipment’s versatility, it will be put to good use as a key piece of medical equipment to continue identifying new and existing disease strains.