70 Years of Packaging Machinery: The Timeline 

Just as the industry evolves, so does Advanced Dynamics, so you can rest assured your product is always crafted with the best care possible.  

The upcoming Platinum Jubilee is not an achievement to be taken lightly, as The Queen will be the first British monarch in history to celebrate an incredible 70 years of service. Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor formally came into power on the second of June in 1953. To put that date into perspective, that’s approximately 3652 weeks or a whopping 25567 days ago.

In line with the Queen’s Jubilee, it’s only natural to take a proud look into the past and acknowledge how significantly society, and more specifically, the packaging industry has evolved. In this blog, we’ll be exploring the incredible changes that have occurred in the packaging and machinery sector. From cardboard boxes to plastic wrapping technology, this is a comprehensive timeline of the last 70 years in the packing industry. 


The 1950s were a truly innovative decade for the world of packaging. Previously, the most notable advances in this sector were the cardboard box, tin-coated cans, and the use of cellophane or saran wrap. Other than this, changes in the industry were stifled. However, in 1957, bubble wrap was invented albeit for an entirely different reason as we know it today. 

The founders of Sealed Air, Al Fielding and Marc Cavannes, initially set out to design a textured wallpaper. However, this aesthetic did not gain much popularity in the interior design sphere, and shortly after, they pitched the concept to IBM as a protective packaging product for their computers and other fragile products. 


In the 1960s, the first industrial-sized vacuum packing machine emerged on the market, giving food items a considerably longer shelf life than ever before. The original versions of these vacuum packaging machines worked similarly to the modern renditions found in factories today. After removing all the oxygen from the item, the food could be stored safely for an extended period of time. 

Although smaller versions of this product were available as far back as the Second World War, the first industrial-scale version was introduced much later. Nowadays, vacuum packing machines come in all shapes and sizes, with single or double chambers, many are even digitally operated. Therefore, manufacturers no longer need skilled workers to operate the machinery, they can simply hire individuals without any specialist knowledge and train them on the spot. 


Perhaps the most significant invention in the world of packaging machinery occurred in the late 1970s – the creation of the polyethene terephthalate beverage bottle, more commonly known as the PET bottle. During this time, the technology to stretch a thin sheet of PET film was adopted to create packaging for food, beverages, and a wide assortment of other plastic products. 

Unlike glass, PET packaging was much lighter to transport, resulting in hundreds and thousands of monetary savings during transportation. Although the PET packaging revolution was applauded for its high durability and lightweight characteristics, it was also the first of its kind to be completely recyclable. However, only a mere 9% of PET products make it to a recycling plant, therefore, it’s important to educate others and raise awareness of the impact this plastic has on our landfills and environment. 


The 1980s can be characterised by the rise of digital publishing technologies and their effect on labelling machines. In the earlier part of the decade, all the tech giants, like Adobe, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard, produced their own version of professional desktop publishing software to replace the noisy dot-matrix printers. This gave designers and manufacturers greater control over their final product and their associated costs. 

This advance influenced the packaging industry massively, as the high variability of production provided an improved convenience and allowed manufacturers to deliver short-run labels in a way that traditional printers could not. Packaging evolved from a way to protect, ship, and deliver products, into a wider marketing tool, which helped brands communicate with their desired audience. 


One of the most notable packaging trends in the 1990s was the rising popularity of active packaging. In a nutshell, consumer demands influenced a shift towards products with better preservation features and high customer convenience. Some examples of active packaging include silica sachets to preserve freshness, absorbers to reduce unwanted moisture or odours, and temperature resistant materials for food to be eaten directly from the packaging. 

Apart from better protection from deterioration or tampering, this decade also saw an increase in more attractive packaging. On the other side of the picture, was a growing environmental concern over the immense volume of the packaging production. Stricter regulations on the characteristics of packaging prompted many manufacturers to opt for machinery that could create recyclable products and improve waste management. 


In the 2000s, the packaging industry focused primarily on the improvement and innovation of its products. More specifically, the two litre PET bottles and one-gallon milk jugs were adapted to weigh one-third of their weight since their introduction in the 1970s. Other notable achievements included the creation of flexible plastic tubes that allowed consumers to eat their yoghurts on the go. 

Sustainability in the 2000s continued to play an important role in the transformation of packaging materials. At the beginning of the decade, Polylactic acid or PLA was introduced into the market, bringing bio-based materials back into the game. This corn-starch-based material provided manufacturers with an option that was 100% compostable and biodegradable. 


The global demand for packaging machinery only accelerated and expanded during the subsequent decade. As the demand for this equipment grew in Eastern Europe and Asian Pacific regions, the industry witnessed immense growth in the production of machinery, including labelling and coding equipment as well as filling and sealing machinery. 

Similarly, consumer habits, such as the rise of e-commerce, also increased global orders for packaging. This seemingly influenced the need for less harmful packaging and more effective manufacturing processes. Decisions in the sector were led by long-term factors, such as sustainability, rather than short term factors. However, this was also beneficial for manufacturers, as they could take advantage of more energy-efficient machines, for example, equipment that goes to sleep when idle, making their operations more cost-effective. 


The future of the packaging industry is yet to be seen; however, we can imagine an even greater focus on sustainability and environmental awareness. Similarly, advances in technology, such as automation and artificial intelligence, are also sure to play a part in the development of new packaging methods. What is certain is that consumer demand and experience will continue to shape the future of the industry for years to come.  

Although we may not have been around for as long as Queen Elizabeth herself, we do have a combined experience of well over 100 years. We offer tailored solutions to suit the bespoke needs of every customer and we do so by adopting packing machinery techniques of the highest calibre. Just as the industry evolves, so does Advanced Dynamics, so you can rest assured your product is always crafted with the best care possible.  


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