The University of Massachusetts at Lowell is establishing a new research and engineering center dedicated to the technology of plastic forming of materials in the solid state.
The center, known as the Valyi Institute for Plastic Forming, is named after Emery Valyi, whose developments will represent an important part of the Institute's program. Valyi is supporting the startup by transferring some new, proprietary technology to the UMass Lowell Research Foundation. Two of the products were disclosed at Packaging Strategies, a conference held in Atlanta April 20-22. Neither is production ready, but the institute has obtained licensees for the processes.
A patented process called compression blow molding (CSBM) in combination with the CoPak barrier system, produces a PET can or jar for carbonated soft drinks, beer, new age beverages and food. It also can be heat set for hot-fill or pasteurizing. The can is transparent, unbreakable, shaped for brand identity, made of up to 90 percent low-grade recycled material, textured to glisten and decorated under the surface.
CoPak is a process in which a combined barrier film liner is applied to the inside of the container to preserve content quality for carbonation and oxygen exclusion. The same barrier that provides this protection also protects the contents from impur- ities in the wall of the can or jar, allowing scrap or lower-than-bottle-grade PET to be used. This results in nearly 35 percent savings in resin cost and about 25 percent savings in overall can cost.
The second product is a tamper-evident barrier closure system that may be used for metal and plastic cans. It opens the entire top of the container, leaving a drinking rim for lip contact. The closure, incorporated with the CSBM can, is also reclosable.
Can or jar production machinery will be in-house in two months. Resin formed like pucks is heated in a radio frequency convection oven, transferred to the compression mold, which is preloaded with the barrier liner, compressed into the preform shape, shuttled to the blow mold and finished, all in less than 3 seconds. This translates to about 1,200 bottles an hour. Licenses have been issued to Berry Plastics Corp. of Evansville, Ind., and Belvac Production Machinery Inc. in Lynchburg, Va. Berry will use the process to extend its service to its food industry customers. Belvac will make compression stretch blow molding machines.
The institute has begun projects guided by senior fellows Dan Weissmann, for product and process, and Herb Rees, who had been vice president at Husky Injection Moulding Systems Ltd. Final legal agreements concerning the multimillion-dollar transaction are pending with respect to Valyi's intellectual property.