Spartech Corp. has developed a two-piece cup system that promises better graphics than conventional thermoformiing and injection molding technologies.
The Clayton firm's Packalloy Imagine system produces cups using technology borrowed from the paper industry. Like two-piece paper cups, the Spartech technique forms a plastic sheet cutout on a mandrel then seals the cup wall and its bottom. Machinery is supplied by Paper Machinery Corp. of Milwaukee.
Graphic design freedom is a key selling point for the Packalloy Imagine system, according to Spartech. Graphics are printed directly onto Packalloy Imagine sheet, meaning offset lithography can be used. By contrast, injection molded and thermoformed cups are printed after being formed, restricting them to dry offset printing. The graphic possibilities should appeal in applications as diverse as stadium cups, bulk-food packaging, restaurant takeout use and medical packaging.
Packalloy Imagine polypropylene sheet supplied by Spartech is first printed then pieces are die cut and scored before going to the mandrel-based forming machinery. Small cups can be made at the rate of 200 to 250 per minute, estimated Spartech market manager for packaging Jonathan Cage. Cups with straight sides are possible and see-through windows are easily designed.
One early user of the technology is Westgate Products Ltd. of Deerfield, Ill. It forms Packalloy sheet into cups with capacities of 50 to 130 ounces for food packaging, concessions and restaurant usage. The firm has found it can reduce wall thickness by 20 to 30 percent, thus cutting costs and making the packaging more environmentally friendly.
Spartech's Packalloy Imagine TPX sheet provides moisture protection and can be augmented with barrier laminations for extended shelf life of foods such as cereal and pet foods. The TPCI grade provides cold temperature performance down to -40° F for ice cream, toppings, sliced meat, produce and other foods.
Tel. 314-721-4242, fax 314-721-1543, e-mail [email protected]