R&D/Leverage Europe and PET Power, a Dutch plastic bottle producer, want you to remain hydrated — one sip at a time.
The companies helped inventor Fred Housheer create his Hydranome specialty water bottle that lets the user know how much water he or she drinks each day — and whether it's enough to stay properly hydrated. An interactive dial on the cap helps the consumer track the number of times the bottle has been filled. Dots on the lid indicate the adequate daily intake, as well as the user's progress to meet that intake.
R&D/Leverage Europe in Nottinghamshire, England, is part of R/D Leverage of Lee's Summit, Mo., which makes molds and helps customers develop new packaging brands.
“I started this initiative about a year ago,” Housheer said. He has had a career in marketing and business management for global companies, including Philips NV and Norelco.
“I began to think it was time for me to start my own company, and began looking into the value space of hydration, mainly how much water people are supposed to drink daily,” Housheer said.
He noticed the trend of a major increase in the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages people drink, while reducing their rate of water consumption. He approached his former design team about a bottle with a counter to track their water intake.
“My wife and I invested our savings in design and engineering, then the search for production firms and toolmakers started,” Housheer said. He found PET Power, which has production facilities in the Netherlands. PET Power recommended R&D/Leverage in the United Kingdom — and by coincidence, Housheer had already, on his own, discovered R&D/Leverage as a potential mold supplier.
The Hydranome is made of Eastman Chemical Co.'s Tritan copolyester.
R&D/Leverage said that Tritan has some unique properties that make it very good for water bottles, but it adds some issues, including the fact that it doesn't like to be stretched.
Steve Gough, technical manager of R&D/Leverage, who managed the project, said Tritan is reusable and dishwasher safe, and close to the feel of glass. “However, we needed to obtain optimum quality with no blemishes in the crystal-clear bottle, so the preform had to be designed to mimic the actual bottle,” he said, adding that “PET Power also has machines needed to mold the bottle under ideal conditions.”
Another challenge: The neck diameter was smaller than R&D/Leverage typically likes, in relation to the body diameter. “We put some designs together to reduce the stretch ratios and to keep the stretch to a minimum, which would help to keep the clarity good over the whole length of the bottle,” Gough said.
And the Hydranome developers wanted a neck design to accommodate a comfortable drinking position, on a heavy-weight bottle. Gough said: “That required a really good thick, long preform to provide the weight required for a reusable bottle, and achieve the quality. It took quite a bit of collaboration to come up with an optimized preform for this product.”
The Hydranome is injection stretch blow molded with single-stage tooling, with the preform and bottle on one machine. R&D/Leverage tested the tooling at its U.K. laboratory, then shipped it to the Netherlands.
The tooling was completed last September, and installed at a PET Power factory.
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