A proprietary technology allows containers to be injection blowmolded into different shapes and sizes, creating a package with two compartments, one smaller and one larger. Dubbed the Smiler by its creators, Emergent Technologies LLC (Chanhassen, MN) and Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI; Holland, OH), the technology can create a portable container that holds a single-serving of two compatible products, such as milk and cookies.
The second or bottom compartment is created by drawing the base upwards, which forms a small cavity into which a heat-sealed portion cup, containing solid, granular or powdered products, can be inserted and held by friction. The base opening can then be closed using a variety of heat-seal or pressure-sensitive materials and methods. The top compartment utilizes a traditional finish and closure.
The companies said the biggest challenge in the project was figuring out how to create a base cavity deep enough to house a second product. "We went through multiple iterations over a year-plus to make sure that both the design elements and the blowmolding process would meet performance objectives," said Scott Steele, vice president PTI.
In early models, the depth of the base cavity caused the bottle to get hung up in the mold, forcing PTI to design an additional piece of hardware to positively extract the bottle from the mold. On the material side, the companies' objective was to be able use a monolayer PET, without having to blend in additives for performance attributes since that would boost the price and create the potential for end-of-life recycling issues.
Containers have already been successfully produced for promotional events, but Emergent and PTI are now looking to bring the concept to the attention of mainstream brand owners. The first commercialization was a ball-shaped bottle used by Ohio Wesleyan University to help commemorate the signing of baseball legend Jackie Robinson by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers.