M-real opens new R&D center in Äänekoski, Finland, to support paperboard packaging innovation, including introduction of new raw materials such as microfibrillated cellulose

ESPOO, Finland , February 9, 2012 (press release) – Part of Metsä Group, M-real Corporation, which Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting to be convened on 28 March 2012 a change of the company’s name to Metsä Board Corporation, is Europe’s leading fresh forest fibre paperboard producer. It has established a new R&D centre in Äänekoski, Finland. Its aim is to support customers in the packaging industry with R&D in product innovation; introduce applications of new raw materials from forest fibres; and study how its products can match rapidly-evolving printing and converting technologies.

The centre draws on experience from within Metsä Board and the whole Metsä Group. It will also collaborate closely with research institutes, universities and Forestcluster Ltd.

“We have relentlessly developed our paperboards, production processes and service to support customers in their business,” says CEO Mikko Helander. “At the same time, our work has achieved benefits in sustainability, for example, in the design of light but stiff boards and in production energy efficiency. Now we want to strengthen our R&D further and drive business forward based on new ideas, customer demand and feedback.”

The new R&D centre is commencing operations from February 2012, with the first research projects coming to fruition within two–three years. It is based at Äänekoski, a well-known forest industry locality in Finland, where Metsä Board has an existing cartonboard mill. It will use an established laboratory and employs a highly-experienced team of experts headed by Lauri Verkasalo, Director for Strategic Research.

The role of the R&D centre falls into these main areas:

- Doing research that leads to improvements in the paperboard products.
- Developing new technologies that will drive advances in cartonboard and liner products.
- Looking for applications based on new raw materials such as microfibrillated cellulose.
- Match developments in printing technology, such as digital printing, in order that paperboards continue to produce optimum results. The centre may also respond to topical issues as they arise, such as mineral oil hydrocarbon migration from printing inks.
- Work on specific win-win co-projects with customers.

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