ORLANDO, FLA. — After 30 years of making extrusion blow molding machines, Techne Graham is rounding out its product offering with a new leak tester and an integrated blow-fill-cap machine.
The Bologna, Italy-based company showed its device to test containers and seal surfaces — called the Tornado — for the first time during NPE 2015 in Orlando.
“What we're showing is for high-speed, high-volume tests,” said David Cargile, senior vice president of machinery and chief technology officer. “It's an 18-station rotary leak detector that will detect to a ten-thousandths hole. This machine also has the ability to run about 500 bottles a minute, which is very high speed.”
Techne Graham isn't taking its integrated blow-fill-cap technology called Unika on the road just yet but the day is nearing.
“We'll show this at the next expo,” Cargile said. “We've already sold one in China and it's running extremely well. We wanted to make sure everything was correct before went out big with this but it looks very good.”
Unika combines the process of blowing and the complexity of filling bottles into a mono-bloc unit. It can be used to produce high density polyethylene containers — the dairy industry is a major Techne Graham customer — as well as bottles up to 5 liters for food, cosmetics and industrial applications.
“We want to be a total solution provider for customers. A lot of times customers ask for a turn-key type of solution,” Cargile said.
Across from the leak tester, Techne Graham ran an all-electric linear extrusion blow molding machine — the ADVT-750, which produced small, white, three-layer HDPE bottles for single servings of milk.
For the dairy industry, Techne Graham can blow mold with sterile air for an aseptic fill.
“We're really one of the few in the industry that can do that with a machine,” Cargile said. “When we blow the bottle with sterile air and the blow pin comes out we actually seal it so the sterile air is captured inside the bottle. When it comes outside the machine, there's no way contaminants or air particles can get inside the container.”
From there the bottle goes to the aseptic filler and it's trimmed and filled inside an aseptic chamber.
“This is what sets us apart in the dairy industry,” Cargile said. “It's highly used in the dairy industry in Europe and the Middle East. We're actually seeing fairly good growth in Africa as well with blow molders.”
The machine can go up to six layers with ethylene vinyl alcohol co-polymer (EVOH) and adhesive barriers as well as a view strip to see and measure the contents of the bottle,
“We came out with it a couple years ago and generally produce about 20 machines a year in Italy,” Cargile said. “This is our most popular platform that we have today.”
With both single- and double-shuttle configurations, the machine is flexible and suitable for small- to medium-production capacities, which is about 15 million to 25 million units per year.
What's next? Techne Graham is thinking small machines.
“There's a lot of small business, quick changeover business, that we really don't compete in,” Cargile said. “We want to, but you really have to drive your price down so we're thinking of getting into a simpler type of all-electric machine for that market.”