Bekum (Berlin, Germany) will be focusing on the latest trends and production processes for extrusion-blown packaging at Interpack 2017 in related to machine and system solutions for the economic and ecological production of bottles, containers, cans, drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) made of plastic. On the material side, it will focus on three aspects: the newly developed EPET IV materials, the processing of calcium carbonate (chalk) and the resource-saving recycling of materials.
Bekum has devoted itself for years to the material aspects of extrusion blow molding centered on the packaging industry. That segment continuously aims to keep material costs under control even as fluctuations in the prices of materials can dramatically affect unit costing.
Likewise, functionally optimized packaging, developed in a resource-saving manner, provides scope for sustainability, added value and setting itself apart from the competition through product differentiation.
“The requirements and desires of the packaging industry are of crucial importance to us,” asserts Michael Mehnert, CEO of Bekum Maschinenfabriken Traismauer GesmbH. "The cost of materials has a decisive influence on the calculations of manufacturers. Our energy-efficient, flexible, high-performance machine and extrusion solutions of the latest generation grant manufacturers the opportunity of improving their added value through the intelligent and resource-saving use of materials, increasing the quality of their articles and, at the same time, achieving the ambitious sustainability targets.”
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100% transparent EPET packaging with handles
Packaging suppliers seek innovative or recyclable materials for new product ideas and for product differentiation. The fully transparent, newly introduced EPET class IV material, capable of being extrusion blow molded, fits the bill.
EPET IV has a comparatively high resistance to wear vs. PET. The material can be completely melted in the extrusion unit without causing excessive wear, though special requirements must be met to provide a robust, reliable, fully automatic production in a 3-layer operation. Blow-molding machines from Bekum, such as the HYBLOW 407 D, have been specially designed for high performance in these demanding EPET applications. This machine allows the reliable production of EPET bottles with flash removal and direct bottle transfer integrated into the machine.
Two options for reducing materials’ cost
Two methods are available to the packaging manufacturer for cost reduction of materials. The use of calcium carbonate (commonly known as limestone or chalk) and post-consumer recycled (PCR) material as a substitute in the middle layer helps lower costs without negatively affecting performance. Even the combined introduction of chalk and PCR as a multilayer system has been successfully implemented by Bekim.
Calcium carbonate offers excellent barrier properties including improved UV protection desirable by customers. However, the main driver is its high cost effectiveness. Mehnert reports that with a 20-L cooking oil canister with a total weight of only 900g, one-fourth of the HDPE could be replaced by chalk at a far lower price. The cost difference between HDPE and chalk in this example was about $1,000 per tonne, he adds, saying that “at a machine output of 210 items per hour and 6,000 production hours per year, this results in possible savings of more than $270,000 per year. These are very exciting prospects for a packaging manufacturer.”
Substitution by recycled material
The use of recycled materials as a substitute in the middle layer is another option. Bekum’s tri-extrusion technology allows PCR to be sandwiched between layers of virgin plastic.
At Interpack, Bekum will highlight its spiral distributor blow-head technology that provides uniform wall thickness distribution in the parison and end product. This results in a significant potential for packaging manufacturers to optimize the single-layer parison quality.
The heads can be easily operator-adjusted by the operator from the front of the machine and allow faster color-changing times than conventional designs, Bekum claims.
Additionally, the smaller surface area means considerably less energy is required for heating.