Udo Bodmer has built a better egg carton: the injection molded chickPack.
“This is brand new. The market is cardboard and vacuum formed. Injection molding is new,” said Bodmer, a mold maker with 30 years of experience. At the Fakuma trade show in Germany, Ferromatik Milacron GmbH was molding chickPacks on a hybrid F-Series press with of 160 metric tons of clamping force.
Ferromatik Milacron touted Bodmer's egg package as the first multicomponent machine in its modular F-Series, which was introduced at the K 2010 show. Both components — the top and bottom of the carton — are transparent polypropylene, but on the Fakuma package, the top was clear and the bottom was yellow, the color of an egg yoke.
The two-color, living-hinge cartons for six eggs attracted plenty of attention as the hybrid F 160-2F press churned them out. Bodmer explained there is a technical reason behind the two-component design.
“The two components give us the possibility for two colors. But the main reason was to reduce the clamping force at least 50 percent,” he said.
In the first step, the vertical injection unit molds the top lid, and applies an in-mold label. Then the main injection unit molds the bottom. In the mold, the two parts are arranged left and right from the bottom and joined at the base with hinges that allow each top half of to be opened individually, like a clamshell.
The chickPack is tamper-evident, something current cardboard cartons are not. Plus you can see the eggs inside, eliminating the need to open it to check for cracked eggs.
Attendees of Fakuma, held Oct. 16-20 in Friedrichshafen, stopped to watch the Ferromatik press efficiently churn out chickPacks on a 2.6-second cycle.
“Cycle time is absolutely a key thing — material costs and cycle time” to allow injection molding to compete against the cardboard egg carton.
The chickPack is 50 percent lighter and takes up 50 percent of the stack-height space. “The big advantage is transportation and logistics,” Bodmer said. Also, the package fits in those egg-shaped indentions on a refrigerator door. “You open the fridge, you see right away exactly how many eggs you have,” he said.
Bodmer worked at Foboha GmbH and its sister company AWM Mold Tech AG. Three years ago, he started his own company, called solutionB, in Hausach, Germany. He thought up the egg package.
“I went to my designer and told him what I wanted to do, what that package needs to be, and I influenced it with my technical background. Because, this is a mass-market product, and the important thing is the piece price must be on the same level than the package we like to compete with,” he said.
The chickPack is Bodmer's own product. But solutionB offers his product-development services to other firms, from generating ideas through product launch. Bodmer said wants to sell the chickPack package. In some countries, he would grant a license to sell the entire system. In other regions, such as Europe, he will market it directly to egg suppliers, and then look for molders close to the egg company.
A company does not have to be in packaging already to handle chickPack, but that certainly helps, he said.
An egg company also could do the molding in-house, a process called self-manufacturing.