LE HAVRE, FRANCE — France's Groupe Sidel, which makes blow molding machines, has created a separate subsidiary to market its new Actis technology for plasma coating the inside of PET bottles. Sidel introduced Actis in April 1999. The company has touted Actis as a major advance in improving the barrier properties of single-layer PET bottles to hold beer, soda and fruit juices. Sidel officials claim Actis can double the size of the potential PET packaging market, to more than 700 billion packaging units worldwide.
Sidel officials also revealed that French beer maker Kronenbourg has ordered a PET beer-bottling line using Actis.
Sidel officials announced the creation of the wholly owned subsidiary, Sidel Actis Services, at the company's general meeting Dec. 22. SAS will hold the Actis patents, and will collect royalties from customers that use the technology.
Actis stands for Amorphous Carbon Treatment on Internal Surfaces. After a standard PET preform is blow molded into a bottle, the Actis machine coats the inside with a carbon layer, obtained from a food-safe gas in its plasma state.
Actis could reduce the cost to make PET beer bottles by allowing breweries to use a single-layer preform, instead of coinjection molded preforms with multiple barrier layers.
In addition to the Kronenbourg news, Sidel leaders announced they already have sold Actis equipment to four customers — Plastipak Packaging Inc., based in Plymouth, Mich.; Hokkai Can of Japan; Alpla Werke of Austria and Logoplaste of Portugal.
Sidel said those customers listed several advantages of Actis, including barrier quality, lower cost, flexibility and ease of use, and a favorable outlook for the recycling of Actis-treated bottles.
Sidel already is looking beyond PET beverage bottles. Potential markets are PET packaging or films to hold sauces, and nonfood applications such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
In other news, Sidel has acquired a Swedish company, Norden, that makes filling and packing machines for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals packaging. Sidel now claims to be the world leader in machines that fill tubes, with a 45 percent market share.
Sidel said it will explore Actis technology in tubes and plastic caps during 2000.
Le Havre-based Sidel, which is publicly traded, said its 1999 sales grew about 9 percent. But profit will be hit by costs from new product development and poor business in South America.