FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - A Texas company claims to have found a way to make PET much more heat resistant while improving its performance in containers. Kurt Ruppman, president of Plastic Solutions of Texas, a Dallas research firm, told attendees at Bev-Pak '96 in Fort Lauderdale that he has developed technology that will allow standard, unmodified virgin PET bottles to be filled with contents at 212§ F without causing the warping and other problems typical with hot-filling PET.
If commercially proven, PST's system would be a breakthrough for container makers who long have sought ways to hot-fill PET without heat setting, or modifying the resin, or using other more costly ma-terials.
Although he said he could give few details on the process because he is awaiting pat-ents, Ruppman said processors could discover the details by signing nondisclosure agreements with PST.
``We have been working with two very large licensees, the Ball Corp. and Trans Atlantic Pre-forms, on this, and we hope that by June the patents will be complete,'' Ruppman said. ``We will be doing commercial-scale testing, and we will be setting up a plant here in Dallas within the year to continue. We hope we will be making bottles for customers this year.''
Steve Lynn, vice president for research and development for Muncie, Ind.-based Ball, declined to comment on the PST process or Ball's possible involvement in its development.
``I can say only that Ball is inter-ested in anything and everything to help our plastics business,'' Lynn said in a telephone interview after the conference.
John MacLean, director of operations for Trans Atlantic of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, attended Bev-Pak, but could not be reached for comment.
In describing the process, Ruppman said it did involve preheating the mold, and it involved very short cycle times.
``We're talking about 2.8 seconds from the time the mold closes on the preform until the bottle is finished,'' he said. ``We have tested a range of sizes.''
Potential benefits would include the ability to fill bottles at higher temperatures, increased lightweighting of containers, long-term stability, potentially improved barrier qualities, no need for crystallized neck finishes, and uniform crystallinity.
``It is fair to say that we are changing the molecular chain of the PET,'' Ruppman said. ``But I assure you there are no additives, and we are not playing with the resin. In fact, we have had representatives of the resin companies and the major machinery makers in the lab who have seen what happened with the process and claimed that it could not be happening.''
Ruppman also said a ``major food and beverage company'' is committed to using containers made with the process, and an announcement could be made soon.