Bottled probiotics innovate with push-button cap

The first-ever line of shelf-stable, “mix-to-drink” probiotic beverages reaching U.S. shelves relies on an innovative closure made using Branson spin-welding technology from Emerson (Danbury, CT). The technology permits a patented, breakthrough cap design that dispenses probiotics with the push of a button. Produced by Karma Culture LLC (Pittsford, NY), Karma Wellness Water's cap protects the dry probiotic cultures to maintain the highest efficacy without the need for refrigeration, giving Karma a crucial edge in developing and marketing new nutritional and wellness beverages.Emerson KarmaCap bottles

“The KarmaCap design, sealed with Branson spin-welding technology, has been vital to our ability to deliver the only shelf-stable probiotic water available,” says C.J. Rapp, Karma Culture CEO. “The factor of shelf stability is important for retailers who may have little to no refrigerated space. And, it’s ideal for consumers’ busy lifestyles. They now can toss one of our beverages, like Karma Probiotics, into a briefcase or gym bag, knowing that it will retain potency, even without refrigeration.”

“Good bacteria” probiotic cultures support immune and digestive health. Typically premixed with water before bottling, the probiotic ingredients deteriorate due to moisture, UV rays, oxygen, or heat. Premixed products require refrigeration or special handling to slow deterioration.

The KarmaCap overcomes these obstacles by using a screw-on base with a sealed upper capsule that contains the probiotics until the consumer chooses to mix with the push of a button. The sealed upper capsule works because spin-welding technology joins circular thermoplastic parts by applying pressure and a spinning motion that generates heat to melt and fuse them together without impacting the probiotics inside. The result is an airtight seal between the upper capsule and the screw-on cap base that prevents premature mixing or leaking.

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 “Our relationship as a trusted partner to Karma rather than merely a supplier fostered a productive collaboration that enabled us to truly understand the Karma team’s vision and deliver a customized solution that utilized our spin-welding technology to produce a cap that met their requirements,” says Jeff Frantz, director of North American business development for Branson Assembly Technologies at Emerson. “The KarmaCap is for any application where one wants to mix powder or liquid ingredients into a larger volume of any type of liquid,” he adds.

KarmaCap details

The automated KarmaCap manufacturing process uses Emerson’s Branson SW300 servo-driven spin welders to produce caps that are free from the issues associated with snap-fit seals—dramatically improving production efficiency and eliminating nearly all rejects, Emerson reports.

Emerson has been using spin welding technology for plastic welding applications since 1998, Frantz tells PlasticsToday. Those standard welders were custom configured to be integrated into Karma’s automation cell to produce the welded KarmaCaps, which comprise an assembly of two injection-molded components made of low-density polyethylene. Emerson KarmaCap closeup

“These pieces were custom designed by Karma with applications assistance from Emerson for the joint design and any details needed for welding,” Frantz explains. “Emerson engineers supported Karma with an optimized software program and custom welder setup for mounting in their automated assembly cell.  Karma’s automation cell fills and welds the caps at their contract supplier’s facility.”

The automated assembly cell operates at rates upwards of 80 parts per minute.  

Karma’s proximity in Emerson’s facilities in western NY facilitated the development process. “Karma was able to have local, face-to-face support with the Engineering and Sales team from the beginning stages of the product design cycle all the way through the installation and production of the caps on the automation cell,” says Frantz.

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