A world exclusive process from SAS Agami, a company set up in Vitré, France, in 2009, recently debuted at Interpack 2011 in Düsseldorf.
The Roll N Blow bottle thermoforming process was presented by French filling and capping machinery producer Serac, a 10 percent shareholder in Agami. Serac said the companies “work in a tight partnership.”
In the Roll N Blow tubular thermoforming process, extruded plastic sheet is cut into strips that are rolled around a vertical pipe to form tubular-shaped strips. These are then welded longitudinally. Bottles are formed by heating the tubes and blowing them into a mold at pressure below 6 bar and temperature below 302º F.
Agami says its process is suitable for single or multilayer bottles in plastics such as polystyrene, polypropylene, polylactic acid and PET.
The four-track machine shown at Interpack offers production speeds of up to 7,000 bottles per hour, but equipment can be designed for speeds of 5,000 to 20,000 bottles per hour.
The 100-500 milliliter Roll N Blow bottles can be used for water, desserts, fruit juice and fresh dairy-product contents. Yogurt bottles offer particularly high potential. There are hygiene control benefits due to the small footprint of the Roll N Blow process equipment and its thermoforming temperature of 302º F.
This process offers cost savings of between 30 and 50 percent for 100 ml bottles compared with conventional extrusion blow molding and preform-based injection stretch blow molding.
The lower weight also results in reduced material cost, and transport, storage and handling-logistics costs are reduced. Agami says one truckload of plastic sheet reels for the Roll N Blow process is equivalent to 25 trucks needed to supply empty bottles or five trucks to supply preforms. The company adds that electricity consumption is two to three times lower than with preform-based injection stretch blow molding.
Having worked previously at packaging producer Tetra Pak Inc. and form-fill-seal line producer Arcil Inc., Agami CEO Stylianos Eleftheriou started the Roll N Blow project in 2007.
The equipment uses Rockwell Automation components for motion and automation. Six-axis motion is used to cut, form and create the bottles. Allen-Bradley servomotors are coupled with Kinetix servo-drives and controlled by a CompactLogix PAC (programmable automation controller). Operator interaction and machine control takes place via an Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus 1250 HMI control panel.
Other companies with similar ambitions to Agami include Austrian packaging technology company Hol-Pack. In 2010 Hol-Pack started looking for technology partners for its thermoforming technique for larger bottles — up to 1.25 liters. Piberbach, Austria-based Hol-Pack did not respond to enquiries from European Plastics News about the current status of these technology partnerships.
The Hol-Pack process involves thermoforming two sheet halves, joined so that the parting line forms a flange-shaped undercut within the bottle. The flanges are welded together at the end of the bottle-forming process. The parting line can be arranged along or across the bottle vertical axis. The lengthwise version allows production of multichamber bottles. Sleeves and labels can be used to conceal the weld line, which is visually unappealing but adds stiffness to finished bottles.
Small yogurt cups, juice and isotonic drink bottles and cups are the focus of the BF70 Bottleformer system introduced by Illig Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG at K2007. Heilbronn, Germany-based Illig showed its BF70 Bottleformer at Interpack 2011 but it was not able to confirm that any customers have started using the BF70 system.
Illig has stated that its BF70 process has output capability of up to 27,000 cups/bottles per hour and that it can cut weight of typical PS yogurt, juice and isotonic drink bottles to around 4 grams, 50 percent lighter than blow molded equivalents.
At Interpack 2011, Illig placed great emphasis on the BF70's ability to produce bottles with large undercuts, flat tops for easy lid application and high load-bearing properties. Products made in the Illig BF70 system do not show a middle seam that is a typical characteristic of blow molded bottles.
Tel. 33-0-2-4360-2783, fax 33-0-2-4360-2839, email [email protected] serac.fr.