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Johannesburg – 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 and Development (R&D) 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 Research and

Development. “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 and Precision Solutions, the Thermo Fisher Scientific Axia ChemiSEM 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 SEM has helped Nampak Liquid Cartons to identify

and problem solve challenges around liquid cartons such as measuring sealant layers on the inside of the

carton. The microscope has also supported the Plastics division in the chemical analysis of master batch

samples as well as foreign object identification. In addition, the SEM can assist in verifying specifications

and identify counterfeit material.

“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. “The instrument is therefore

an extremely important asset to ensure the safety of food and beverages packed in Nampak’s


It’s technology like this that allows Nampak R&D to scientifically investigate packaging, while also

removing the risk of potential claims against its customers or Nampak itself. In the past, findings by the

R&D division have gone a long way to preventing financial and reputational damage for brands.

“It’s investment in modern equipment such as SEM 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,” says 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.

Fast facts about Nampak R&D’s new SEM:

 The SEM is capable of producing high-resolution images at high magnification. This

magnification is considerably higher than any optical microscope can offer – up to 300 000

times. What makes this technique unique is that elemental analysis can be performed at a


 This technique also provides excellent depth of field which means that you can see the whole

image in sharp focus from foreground to background.

 The latest colour imaging is used to enhance the capability of the instrument.

 The SEM’s versatility means it can analyse samples anywhere between 0.01cm² and 49cm².

About Nampak

Nampak Limited is Africa's largest diversified packaging manufacturer and has been listed on the JSE

Limited since 1969. As a market leader in the supply of beverage cans in South Africa and Angola and a

major player in the supply of beverage cans in Nigeria, Nampak operates and produces world-class

metal, rigid plastic and paper packaging from 17 sites in South Africa and 14 sites in the rest of Africa.

We leverage the skills of our 4 252 people and capitalise on our substantial investment in state-of-the-

art production facilities. Our world-class research and development facility based in Cape Town, South

Africa, provides technical and innovative product development support to our businesses, as well as to

our customers – many of which are among the world's largest fast-moving consumer goods companies.


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