DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - Aoki Technical Laboratory Inc. claimed a number of blow molding firsts with the five machines it ran on its stand at K'95. But the Nagano, Japan-based maker of injection-stretch blow molding machinery not only demonstrated its technology in Dusseldorf, but also was looking for U.S. sales representatives since it split with its longtime U.S. distributor, Formex Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, at the end of June.
At the moment, Aoki is relying on Aoki America SA de CV, the five-person sales office it set up a few months ago in Monterrey, Mexico, to represent it in North America, but the firm recognizes it will need up to 10 regional sales representatives to properly cover the United States.
``We're looking for reps to cover regions of the United States,'' and some are being tried out now,'' said Kohei Tsugami, managing director for marketing. However, he noted, ``In the long term, Aoki America may handle all of the Americas.''
Tsugami and company president Shigeto Aoki preferred in an interview at K'95 to discuss the 19-year-old firm's recent technical advances. They claimed their company is the first to injection-stretch blow mold high density polyethylene bottles. On the stand, the firm also ran three 100LL-model machines molding identical, widemouth, 500-milliliter mineral-water bottles made of PET, amorphous PET (A-PET), and a blend of PET and the new polyethylene naphthalate resin.
PE bottles typically have been extrusion blow molded, since removal of the HDPE preform from the core could prove difficult. Aoki officials say they have modified the mold used to make the high-temperature preform, thereby making feasible the stretch blowing of bottles and containers with capacities exceeding 1 liter.
They claim that use of this process eliminates the need for finishing operations, since the molding precision of the bottle mouth is high and the seal properties are good. Stretching the preform also improves its mechanical properties, according to the company.
At K'95, Aoki introduced machine model SBIII-250P-40N, a mass-production unit with 12 cavities able to mold HDPE detergent bottles in a 12-second cycle time.
Aoki has vented the screw on the machine it uses to run A-PET resin, which helps remove the moisture, gas and unreacted monomer and eliminate the need for a large dryer. It also uses a longer screw to improve mixing.
The company said it has been trying for the past three years to develop a machine to mold PEN resin - which offers high heat resistance and barrier properties superior to PET's - and finally succeeded in molding bottles with various blended ratios of PEN and PET.