Oct 11, 2021

LiquiGlide sets out to transform what's possible in packaging

We take a closer look at LiquiGlide, the technology behind Colgate's new clear PET toothpaste container.
Elisabeth Skoda

Invented at MIT by Dave Smith and Professor Kripa Varanasi, the patented LiquiGlide technology removes friction, allowing thick, slow-moving liquids to flow more easily.

By eliminating friction, LiquiGlide sets out to transform what is possible in  packaging, manufacturing, and medical devices a reality via safe and sustainable solutions that meet rigorous safety and regulatory standards. We spoke to Dave Smith, CEO & co-founder of LiquiGlide, to find out more about the technology and how it enabled the creation of a toothpaste container made from clear PET in collaboration with Colgate.

TP: Could you give us a quick overview of how the LiquiGlide technology works?

Liquids sticking to solid surfaces creates massive inefficiencies across industries. It’s not just bad for the bottom line; it’s also not sustainable for the planet. LiquiGlide is creating a frictionless future through its patented technology for creating stable slippery surfaces that enable thick, slow-moving liquids to flow with ease. By allowing liquids to flow, LiquiGlide enables new packages, products and ultimately a new consumer experience through no-waste packaging, more efficient, sustainable manufacturing. And by constraining design, we can improve patient outcomes and quality of life through devices that won’t clog or get infected.

TP: How do you ensure that it is safe for food and personal care products?

LiquiGlide’s sustainable solutions meet rigorous safety and regulatory standards. Our clients are in the CPG, health and beauty and biomedical fields - all of which have exacting requirements that we strictly adhere to. We do this by making our coatings from materials that are recognized as safe. Starting with safe and approved materials, we have engineered coatings for different applications that won’t alter or compromise the product. For Colgate toothpaste, the coating is made of a natural, plant-based oil and common toothpaste ingredients. For food products, we make coatings from food-safe ingredients; and for skincare products like lotions and creams, we make coatings from common, dermatologically safe ingredients.

TP: Were there any particular challenges that arose when it came to combining the product with toothpaste?

Colgate has been an amazing partner; we worked together as true partners to enable previously impossible packaging innovation in the toothpaste category that significantly improves the consumer experience and helps the planet. As with any new innovation, especially one that has the ability to transform an entire category, there were challenges along the way. But we worked very closely together to overcome them, and the end result is an incredibly beautiful package that allows the consumer to enjoy every drop… and it’s fully recyclable. (Note: Colgate’s Elixir products featuring LiquiGlide’s technology is currently only available in markets across Europe).

TP: How does LiquiGlide work in conjunction with the clear PET packaging in the Colgate toothpaste?

The reason that regular toothpaste has never been sold in PET packages until now is because it sticks and doesn’t easily come out of the packaging. But with Colgate’s Elixir, the LiquiGlide coating, which is made from a natural, plant-based liquid and common toothpaste ingredients, forms a slippery surface that allows the toothpaste to slide rather than stick. And, of course, PET is fully recyclable, so consumers can enjoy the product to the last drop and then put the package into the recycling bin knowing that it will actually be recycled.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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