Italian stretch blow molding machinery maker Siapi srl is setting up its first wholly owned office in the U.S., hoping to capitalize on an anticipated shift from polycarbonate to PET in the North American market for water-cooler bottles.
The San Vendemiano, Italy-based company announced at the recent Drinktec exhibition in Munich that it has acquired an 8,300-square-foot facility in Norcross, Ga., where it intends to install two demonstration stretch blow molding machines from its latest EA1 line.
The facility will be headed up by newly appointed CEO Marco Manzini, who has previously managed U.S. sales operations for several Italian and international food-processing machinery makers.
Manzini said Siapi's U.S. operation will be in full swing by January and also will serve as a base for a technical support expert and one field service engineer.
The U.S. office is part of a three-year investment program that has also seen the Italian company set up a sales office in Tunisia and expand its research and development and container testing laboratory at its headquarters over the past 12 months.
Siapi, founded in 1992, has become a strong niche player with its range of linear stretch blow molding machines for two-stage production of large blow molded bottles up to 20 liters and for wide-mouth jars. It claims to have more than 400 machines installed worldwide.
The company's two-stage production technology, which takes a previously molded preform and reheats it to blow mold the final container, typically competes with single-stage injection stretch blow molding or extrusion blow molding in the large-container marketplace.
Manzini said Siapi has seen the U.S. market as attractive for its technology for some time. The company already has more than 30 of its extrusion blow molding machines installed in North America, where they have been sold through agents over the past five years.
He said the investment underlines the company's commitment to supporting existing customers. However, Manzini also expects to benefit from the current concern over bisphenol A in North America and likely future legislative restrictions, which he believes will encourage interest in production systems capable of handling alternatives to PC.
During Drinktec, held Sept. 14-19, the company demonstrated production of a 61/2-liter PET water container with an integrated handle on an EA1S single-cavity blow molding machine. It also showed an EA1WM-U model producing a jar with a 120-millimeter-diameter-wide neck.
Siapi also demonstrated its patented swing-arm automation technology for in-mold handle placement.
That technology enables an injection molded handle to be integrated into a high-clarity PET container with no whitening around the fixing points, the company said.
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