ROSEMONT, ILL. — Group Sidel's new Actis carbon treatment for PET bottles could be a breakthrough for beer, industry officials say, but they believe no single technology will dominate beer in plastic.
Beer was the topic of a session during Plastics Fair Chicago, held June 15-17 in Rosemont. Officials from machinery and resin companies addressed a small gathering of about 15 people.
While Sidel, a French PET blow molding machinery supplier, did not attend, several speakers did address Sidel's carbon coating technology. Sidel announced Actis on April 29.
Actis stands for Amorphous Carbon Treatment on Internal Surface. It allows the use of a standard, single-layer preform, which is coated on the inside with gas in its plasma state. Because the coating creates an oxygen barrier inside the bottle, Actis could end up replacing bottles made from multilayer preforms.
In late May, Sidel said it already had booked orders for 20 Actis systems.
``It's an extremely interesting technology and I sure wish them success,'' said Dewey Johnson, business market manager for PET resin supplier Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn. ``Certainly from a performance standpoint, that represents a significant technology.''
Johnson said Eastman was involved in plasma coating through a joint venture a decade ago, but decided not to pursue the technology.
Sidel's technology marks a significant event, said Steven Peter, product manager for filling-line equipment at Krones Inc. of Franklin, Wis., which supplies production lines to breweries. Last year, Krones introduced its own PET blow molding machine.
``And not just [for] beer. It may be juices and water — anything that's oxygen-sensitive,'' Peter said.
Krones Inc.'s parent firm, Krones AG, is based in Neutraubling, Germany.
Another German machinery maker, Krupp Corpoplast Maschinenbau GmbH of Hamburg, also is working on plasma-coating technology, according to Bernd-Thomas Kempa, manager of technical sales. The company makes PET blow molding machines.
Kempa said questions remain. Sidel will have to ensure Actis coating equipment is built with the ``robustness'' required for factory use, he said.
``Everybody is happy about the process. But when you have to make a stable factory production, it's more difficult,'' Kempa said.
Krupp Corpoplast is working on several approaches to the oxygen-barrier issue, including multi-layer bottles, coatings and blends, Kempa said. Krupp does not think one method will win out.
``We are not focusing only on one solution, because we think at the moment there is not one clear way to make a bottle,'' he said.
Kempa said Krupp has not sold any PET blow molding machines to U.S. brewers yet. So far, brewers have preferred to use outside bottle makers to produce PET bottles used for test marketing, he said.