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Articles from 2018 In August

Packaging equipment market projected to exceed $47 billion by 2024

Packaging equipment market

The packaging equipment market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $38 billion to more than $47 billion by 2024, according to a new research report from Global Market Insights Inc. (Selbyville, DE).

The growing adoption of automation in several industrial sectors is driving growth. Technological advances provide several advantages to industries using these products in packaging applications. For instance, smart sensors offer fault detection, data collection, mobile connectivity and remote monitoring, boosting efficiency in processes and operations performed in factories. Industries using traditional packaging equipment are focusing on substituting legacy machinery with new innovative equipment to enable mass production.

Demand for packaging equipment is primarily driven by the development of energy-efficient equipment, increasing adoption of automated packaging machines and consumer demand for personal care goods. Growing demand for packaging robots from several end-use industries is also a key factor in the packaging machinery market. These machines play a key role in ensuring product safety throughout the value chain. Equipment manufacturers are emphasizing solutions that have minimal environmental impact.

High costs associated with the development and installation of packaging equipment is restricting market growth. Small companies cannot afford to purchase these machines, forcing them to implement manual packaging techniques over automated systems, leading to adoption of an equipment rental business model. In addition, increasing maintenance costs are further hindering industry demand. Periodic maintenance and checks need to be performed to ensure proper operation of the equipment.

Palletizing equipment is experiencing a high adoption rate in several industrial sectors owing to the automated functions provided by the machines. These help in handling heavy loads and stacking cases, bags, bottles and cartons for packing and labeling. Advantages of these machines include easy circulation of commodities, manual and automatic handling, and reduced risk of product damage and worker injuries. Several companies are adopting automated palletizing machines to increase their manufacturing capabilities, deliver high-quality end-products and efficiently manage their processes.

The food and beverage industry accounted for more than 55% of packaging machinery market share in 2017. The packaging equipment market has witnessed growing demand for new machinery from developing markets due to the increase in spending on a wide range of processed and ready-to-go food and beverage products. To satisfy demand, several major companies operating in the food and beverage industry are looking to expand in untapped markets by building new plants and purchasing new machinery. In addition, with changing consumer preferences, food and beverage companies are expected to introduce a range of new products that require innovative or newer packaging machinery.

Asia Pacific is expected to see steady growth and will reach $18 billion by 2024, owing to the rise in the number of pharmaceutical companies. Countries including India, China, Japan and South Korea are moving toward automation and adoption of smart industrial solutions in the manufacturing processes. Stringent regulations that mandate pharmaceutical companies to follow certain standards for the packaging of drugs are positively driving the packaging machinery market. Several industrial players in the region are deploying liquid and solid packaging machinery to fulfill product requirements.

What if plastic could cure cancer? Would you love it then?

Nano Letters

I’ve heard people in the plastics industry say things like, “Even if plastics could cure cancer, people would hate it.” Okay, so let’s see what people think of plastic if it really does cure cancer.

Image courtesy Nano Letters.

According to an article, “Polymer Antibodies Efficiently Target and Eliminate Cancer Cells,” from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), a joint research team from Russia and the United Kingdom has demonstrated the possibility of developing new types of anti-neoplastic drugs based on nanoMIPs, or “plastic antibodies.” 

These nanoMIPs are “synthetic polymers that can function as antibodies, selectively binding to target proteins on the surface of cancer cells.” This finding could be a “paradigm shift” by bringing a high level of “specificity” to treating cancer, said the article. Typically, the big drawback to most cancer treatments is that they are not very good at targeting the cancer cells specifically. The result is that most treatments kill off everything—the good and the bad—often making the treatment as harmful as the disease itself. 

Advances in cancer research have led to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms and the primary agents responsible for tumor development. “New findings have enabled novel anti-neoplastic drugs that can distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells by acting on specific molecular targets,” said the article.

The research was carried out by an international team from the University of Leicester, University College London, the Institute of Cytology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. The results of the study were published in Nano Letters.

New class of anti-neoplastic medicines

Cancer cells undergo rapid division and require a constant supply of “food” or “growth factors” to stimulate cell growth and proliferation, explained the article.  Growth factors come from outside the cell and “can be identified by corresponding receptor proteins on the cell surface.” Treatments over the past two decades act on these “growth factors” to “suppress binding” to the cells and thus directly affect their enzyme activity.

The international research group “has shown that it is possible to develop a new class of anti-neoplastic medicines based on a kind of particle called nanosized molecularly imprinted polymers (nanoMIPs). NanoMIPs are a synthetic polymer alternative to antibodies with a 3D structure that enables them to bind only to a certain fragment of a target protein,” which “ensures their high specificity.”

Unlike antibodies, noted the article, these nanoMIPs can also carry additional anti-cancer agents. “In their research, the authors proved for the first time that it is possible to synthesize nanoMIPs capable of selectively binding to the amino acid sequences of their target proteins. The study also demonstrated the potential for nanoMIP application in targeted drug delivery.”

NanoMIPs are synthesized in the presence of a target protein, which leaves a mark on the nanoparticle, called “imprinting,” that “can be compared to mold casting” because the end product takes on the shape of the original template. This process gives nanoMIPs the ability to selectively recognize the “target molecule and bind to it.”

The benefits of the nanoMIP synthetic antibody alternative to monoclonal antibody treatment is that nanoMIPs are more stable, which means new doses do not have to be constantly administered over the course of treatment. Because the nanoMIPs are stable and do not depend on temperature and acidity, they have a “much wider range of potential applications. Looking forward, they could expand the range of options available for diagnostics and treatment of many diseases,” said Professor Nickolai Barlev, head of the Laboratory of Cell Signaling Regulation at MIPT.  

Additionally, the synthesis of selective nanoMIPs does not necessarily require imprinting of the whole cell; only a specific part needs to be imprinted. “This small part—a short oligopeptide—is attached to glass beads via covalent chemical bonds. The beads are then mixed with acrylamide monomers and doxorubicin” (a cytotoxic drug). “Polyacrylamide, unlike its monomers, is biologically harmless, and is used to produce soft contact lenses, among other things,” explained the article. “When the temperature is increased, the monomers begin to polymerize, forming particles that are 100 to 200 nanometers large; incorporate doxorubicin; and carry a molecular imprint of the target protein. Unreacted monomers and nonspecific nanoparticles are eluted, while the synthesized ‘plastic antibodies’ remain bound to the glass beads.”

Barlev commented, “For the first time, we have produced polyfunctional nanoMIPs capable of selective target protein recognition and suitable for specific drug delivery. This used to be impossible, because the available technology for nanoMIP synthesis did not allow us to standardize the conditions in which the particles were obtained, so the efficiency of the end product was unpredictable. We solved this problem by using solid-phase synthesis. Our next goal is to create ferromagnetic nanoMIPs, which would considerably expand the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of our ‘plastic antibodies.’ ”

The results of the study also revealed moderate and specific toxicity of nanoparticles against tumor cells: The toxicity was entirely due to the cancer drug doxorubicin that was incorporated during the polymerization process. The control nanoparticles that did not contain the doxorubicin did not have any effect on the cells. “In addition, where therapeutic nanoMIPs were administered, the cells developed multiple DNA breaks, which are a characteristic reaction to the effect of doxorubicin,” the article stated. “Finally, the binding of the ‘plastic antibodies’ to the epidermal growth factor receptor [which takes in the food required for cell growth] led to a decrease in the density of receptors on the cell surface.”

This research proves what we in the industry have known all along: Plastic is fantastic! In fact, it could just save your life one day!

BPC Toll Compounding & Blending commissions new twin-screw extrusion line


BPC Toll Compounding & Blending recently increased production and expanded operations by adding a new Entek 73-mm twin-screw extruder compounding line at its plant in Meredosia, IL. The line began production in August.

The new extruder is BPC’s second production line. It is equipped with K-Tron Coperion feeders and a Gala underwater pelletizer, all integrated by Entek on a turnkey basis. BPC plans to use the line primarily to expand its tolling business; it expects the line to increase its toll compounding capacity from 22 million to 60 million pounds annually.

Pictured left to right: Mike Krause, General Manager; Reggie Dunn, Process Manager; Austin Castleberry, Operator.

Since BPC began its compounding operations in Meredosia, it has achieved steady growth. Mike Krause, Operations Manager at BPC, said, “In the past, our capacity was limited to one line; now we are able to expand our customer base. In addition to the extruder, we are adding more blending capacity as well as more trucks and off-loading equipment to handle the increased extrusion capacity. We saw a need in the market for this service and more clients are coming on board already,” he added.

BPC produces a range of compounds based on PP, PE, TPOs, TPEs and engineering polymers. Materials are formulated in a variety of colors using additives such as talc, mica, calcium carbonate and flame retardants. Founded in Houston in 2007 to conduct testing services for major chemical companies, BPC moved to Illinois in 2012 and expanded into toll compounding. 

Greg Larson, BPC’s Vice President, Business Development, said, “Toll compounding helps our customers increase their compounding capacity without having to invest in new machinery and equipment. We can do the materials production for them and provide a full range of other services cost effectively.”

Today, BPC employs 20 people and operates in an 80,000-square-foot plant with a rail-siding to handle 24 cars. The company has a compounding line with a strand pelletizer as well as lines for five-layer blown film and cast film/tape, and an injection molding machine.

Glass or plastic? Study profiles changing consumer attitudes

glass versus plastic

Is glass a better alternative for food and beverage packaging than PET? That is the focus of a new study from IHS Markit (London). As plastic has become more widely used for food and beverage products over the past few decades, it has provided some benefits that glass does not. However, with consumer perception of plastic changing in a negative way, glass is beginning to challenge plastic as a material of choice.

PET packaging has several advantages over glass, which has contributed to its popularity, noted the IHS Markit case study. PET packaging is generally much lighter than glass, reducing the cost of packaging and the CO2 footprint of transporting products. Raw material costs and the cost of production processes for PET are also lower than glass on a per unit basis, giving it a further cost advantage, said IHS Markit. 

PET can also be combined with other plastics in packaging materials to give it different properties and, in some cases, lower the overall packaging weight. Plastic as a packaging material continues to be preferred over glass, accounting for 26% of the world’s plastic output, according to IHS Markit. The alcoholic beverage sector remains the one niche where glass remains king. “Glass offers lower permeability to O2 and CO2 than plastic, which means alcohol can be stored longer,” said the case study. In the soft drinks sector, this is less of an issue. With the obvious cost advantage, PET has become the dominant packaging material in that sector.

Consumer awareness of plastics in the environment may affect the use of plastic in packaging, and the case study asks if this will impact the demand for plastic packaging. 

Recycling issues that the comparison study examined were not conclusive as to which material is better. “It is difficult to directly compare the environmental impact of PET versus glass,” said the report. “Studies often fail to capture the effect of the full life cycle of a product on the environment—especially what happens to packaging at the end of its life cycle.”

The study also noted that “life-cycle assessments” often fail to account for the “real life, practical issues of waste disposal and recycling—such as waste collection infrastructure and waste sorting—leaving much of the world’s plastic waste in landfill or oceans.” 

The study finds that PET is one primary source of plastic waste that finds its way into the environment, noting that in 2017 total global demand for PET was 21.5 million metric tons (MT), of which 75 to 80% was used to make PET bottles. Around 7.3 million MT of all the PET production is recycled. “Currently all recycled PET comes from PET bottles; 6 million MT of this recycled material goes into other plastic streams, with only 1.3 million MT going into making new plastic bottles,” the study found.  

One advantage of glass, the study points out, is that it can be recycled infinitely without any loss of quality. “Therefore, glass recycling has a much more direct impact on demand for new packaging material,” said IHS Markit. “According to FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, the use of one ton of cullet or recycled glass reduces CO2 generation by 580 kg in the glass industry, and it saves 1.2 tons of virgin raw materials.” The conclusion is that glass is more suitable for recycling than PET, as even the collection infrastructure is “much more developed” compared to that of plastic collection.

In some developing countries glass containers are returned to retail shops where the product was purchased, which then sends the bottles back to bottlers for washing and refilling. That is much like what the soft drink industry did back in the 1950s and 1960s, when consumers were paid a nickel for each returned bottle.

PET is not infinitely recyclable/reusable, “at least in the public’s perception,” said the study.  

Generally, the properties that make plastic durable and desirable for the applications in which it is used will deplete with recycling and reprocessing, which is why virgin resin is typically added to recycled material. That means the demand for virgin raw material would be higher, thus reducing the absolute benefit of recycling.

Public perception of plastics for packaging continues to erode with each news story detailing plastic bits found in fish and shellfish, and various species of birds and turtles found with plastic in their guts. Looking at recent surveys by the market research group Mintel, IHS Markit found that “79% of consumers in the UK think that plastic recycling should be incentivized, suggesting that a vast majority of consumers are concerned about plastic waste.”

Other surveys evaluated by IHS Markit, such as the one done by FEVE, “found that 85% of respondents preferred glass as a packaging material and that 73% thought it was a safer material for drink packaging.”

As the IHS Markit case study noted in its conclusion, plastic waste is “a much more visible issue,” which means that consumers are constantly aware of plastic waste in the environment. The response has been bans on certain plastic items such as retail bags, straws, stirrers and cutlery, such as the EU is planning, with “the aim of ensuring that 55% of all plastics are recycled by 2030.” 

It appears from the IHS Markit case study that consumers pay more attention to the issue of plastic waste in the environment when evaluating packaging than the true environmental impact of the overall life cycle of materials, including the obvious—and not so obvious—benefits of plastic over glass.  

Breakage issues were not studied in this comparison of glass and plastic, nor was the food waste that breakage causes. But it is obvious that one of the big advantages of plastic food and beverage packaging is the protection plastic provides from product loss, thus reducing the overall cost of food and beverages in plastic packaging to the consumer. 

Plastic also allows for drinks to be taken to swimming pools and beaches, where broken glass containers are considered a real hazard. The use of plastic containers has all but eliminated that problem.

As we all know, however, there is no such thing as a final solution to anything, as one solution often creates several more problems. The issues surrounding plastic need various solutions, but banning plastics throws out the benefits of plastic packaging. And it does not address the more thorny issues of recycling, reusing and what to do about people who do not care about the environment enough to dispose of any waste material—glass or plastic—in a proper manner.

Donnelly Custom Manufacturing expands injection molding capabilities

Donnelly Manufacturing

Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co. (Alexandria, MN), specializing in short-run injection molding for leading industrial OEMs, announced significant investments in new equipment. They position Donnelly to accommodate strong growth with current and new customers, said the company.

The company is continuing its focus on the low- to mid-volume manufacturing needs of its customers—delivering high-quality parts on time and affordably. The three equipment purchases—a Toshiba 500-ton all-electric press, Engel vertical rotary press and Universal Robots’ UR5 collaborative robot—expand Donnelly’s injection molding capabilities and value-added manufacturing services.

“Each of these investments better enable us to address our customers’ vital needs,” said Ron Kirscht, President of Donnelly. “We’re standard-setters. We need to be agile while leveraging our short-run expertise to effectively manage and save time in critical processes, including setups and production runs, so we can provide service and value to our customers.”

Expanding its fleet of presses to 36, the company is continuing to make capital investments to meet growing demand for larger press capabilities. The latest addition furthers Donnelly’s ability to be a single source of supply for customers’ low- to mid-volume injection molding needs. The purchase of the Toshiba 500-ton press also represents Donnelly’s 31st Toshiba all-electric machine. This ultimately increases productivity through standardized controls, maintenance and service requirements, while reducing the time and resources needed for onboarding and employee training, said the company.

To maximize the impact of these investments, Donnelly continues to incorporate advanced automation technologies into its operations. Donnelly’s new UR5 cobot is uniquely engineered to perform several sequential tasks. The technologies empower the company’s operators to execute more value-producing tasks, ultimately streamlining costs and increasing precision for customers.

“These investments enable us to increase productivity and performance, which are critical in a short-run environment,” said Jerry Bienias, Vice President of Operations. “Our automation team has worked hard to overcome significant barriers to entry in incorporating automation into short-run manufacturing. Through these technologies we can bring our customers increasingly higher quality parts in shortened delivery time frames.”

The company completed its investments with the purchase of an Engel vertical rotary press at NPE2018. It is scheduled to be delivered soon.

Unyq enlists 3D printing to help amputees make a fashion statement


Unyq, pronounced unique, is one business that lives up to its name. In a short amount of time, the company has carved out a niche in the 3D-printed wearables market with its strikingly designed prosthetic leg covers, typically called fairings, from a polyamide material.

Founded in 2014 in San Francisco and Seville, Spain, the company has achieved considerable success by selling the custom fairings directly to consumers through its website. It is in the process of building a manufacturing facility in Charlotte, NC, that will be operational by December 2018. PlasticsToday spoke with Unyq co-founder Eythor Bender about the company’s origins and its ostensibly bright future.

“The business was started by myself and Manuel Boza in Spain,” said Bender. “We shared a vision that 3D printing was ready for our industry—medical wearables and specifically orthopedic and prosthetic products. We saw 3D printing as a tool for making things that would conform to the body,” Bender told PlasticsToday.

It is worth noting that Bender and Boza brought some very specific expertise to the budding enterprise. Bender has spent more than two decades working with the disabled and achieved a level of fame when he developed an exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to walk again. Boza is an above-knee amputee and engineer specialized in robotics.

Around the time that Bender and Boza were figuring out the contours of their business, a good friend started a company called Bespoke Innovations in San Francisco. Scott Summit, who had been a designer with Apple, created custom-fit prosthetics, orthotics and orthopedic devices. “The devices were beautiful but maybe not very affordable,” said Bender, “and we thought that combining our production methods with his product portfolio could be successful.” Summit sold Bespoke Innovations to 3D Systems in 2012. Two years later, Unyq was founded; it struck a license agreement with 3D Systems in 2015 to take ownership of all of the intellectual property related to 3D-printed prosthetics.

Para-athlete and motivational coach Cadie Jessup.

The eye-popping designs and easy online ordering made the company an almost immediate sensation. Then it did something even more remarkable—just a few months after launching its direct-to-consumer e-commerce site, Unyq slashed the prices of all of its products by 50%. At the time, Bender explained that the size of the market, which was much larger than they had anticipated; a funding windfall that allowed the company to develop new 3D printers and related technologies; and more effective material-sourcing procedures allowed the company to pass along those savings to customers. It was a fulfillment of the company’s mission to make affordable, comfortable and well-designed prosthetics for the greatest number of people.

While other technologies are used in the post-processing of the devices, 3D printing is key to the business model. “There is a level of customization that needs to be applied to most of our devices, and 3D printing is the only technology that can affordably achieve customization and scalability,” explained Bender. He likens what Unyq is doing in orthopedic applications to how 3D printing has dramatically altered the manufacturing landscape for hearing aids and dental devices.

The company also deserves credit for advancing the consumerization of medical devices, a trend that has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years. The term applies to a changing business model, where patients, and not just healthcare purchasing groups and practitioners, are the direct customers. It also applies to product design, which has traditionally aimed for a blandly clinical appearance in the medtech space. The advent of medical wearables changed everything.

In terms of design, prescription eyeglasses started this trend decades ago as they evolved into fashion accessories. More recently, medical wearables have started taking their cues from sleekly designed consumer electronics that want to be seen and not camouflaged. On both of those fronts—building a consumer-friendly business and design innovation—Unyq has been in the avant garde.

As Forbes noted in an article published in June 2014, ordering the fairings is shockingly simple. “You choose a design from their website (or design your own), take eight photos with your phone, wait four to six weeks for delivery, and, four screws later, your prosthetic leg now looks and feels completely different.” In the Forbes article, writer Tarun Wadhwa cites the experience of Travis Ricks, “an incredibly accomplished athlete, advocate, and educator—and amputee of eleven years,” who “loves” wearing the Unyq fairings. “I get stopped by people who tell me how great my fairings look. In eleven years of being an amputee, I’ve never had people tell me that my leg is bad-ass. They are saying that my disability is really cool,” Ricks told Wadhwa.

Unyq has added prosthetic covers for upper-limb amputees to its flagship line of above- and below-the-knee fairings and scoliosis braces. Most recently, it announced that its new production facility in Charlotte, NC, would be up and running by December 2018.

The 3000-square-foot space “represents a significant investment in equipment and people—about $1 million,” Bender told PlasticsToday. “It will be the main manufacturing facility for the Americas, at least for now. Our main factory for Europe will remain in Spain.”

Unyq is also putting its technology to other uses. In June 2018, the company announced a partnership with Ikea. Unyq will apply its technique of using photos and measurements to 3D-print custom prosthetics to the production of bespoke seats for gamers. Serious gamers spend countless hours sitting down, and Ikea has been working with ergonomics for 75 years, noted Ikea head designer Marcus Engman.

Clearly, the bottom line is looking good for Unyq, in more ways than one.

Throwback Thursday: Things you might not know about 'The Graduate'

The Graduate movie poster

Mike Nichol’s film The Graduate, which turned 50 last December, has almost totemic status in the plastics industry thanks to that memorable exchange between Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and Mr. McGuire (Walter Brooke) out by the pool. To wit:

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Yes, sir.

Are you listening?

Yes, I am.


Exactly how do you mean?

There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Yes, I will.

Enough said. That's a deal.


The dialogue was written with an intent to mock, but it turned out to be seriously sage advice. In fact, as noted on the IMDb website, “within a year of the movie's release, plastic manufacturing companies became enormously successful. Many people attribute this to Walter Brooke's quote about "plastics.” Brooke himself once told his nephew that he would have invested in plastics, if he had known that the remark would lead to such success.

That might be a stretch—I'm pretty sure the plastics industry would have soared regardless—but it makes for a good anecdote. Here is some more trivia about the half-century-old movie that you might not know for this Throwback Thursday.

Next: Will the real Ben Braddock please stand up?


The Graduate made Dustin Hoffmann a star, but it almost didn’t happen. Burt Ward, who played Robin in the Batman TV show in the 1960s, was up for the part, and he wanted to do it, but his studio, ABC, nixed it. “We’ve got the hottest show on television [Batman], and we don’t want to dilute you doing something else, so you can’t do it,” Ward recalls the studio telling him during an interview with Fox News. “I was really dejected. I thought I should do this. So I called [Graduate producer] Larry [Turman] and . . . I told him I wanted to do it so badly, but I can’t. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a small movie,' " reported Fox News. The Graduate turned out to be the highest grossing film of 1967.

Next: But wait, another much more famous actor also wanted that part . . . 


Robert Redford did a screen test for the lead role, but director Mike Nichols rejected him because he did not have the “underdog qualities” that the character required, according to Redford reportedly asked him what he meant.

“Well, let’s put it this way,” said Nichols. “Have you ever struck out with a girl?”

“What do you mean?” asked Redford.

“That’s precisely my point,” said Nichols.

Still, Redford wouldn’t give up, insisting that his acting chops were up to the challenge. Finally, Nichols told him, “Bob look in the mirror. Can you honestly imagine a guy like you having difficulty seducing a woman?"

Next: A movie that only stoners or idiots can love?

Although the movie was very well received by most movie reviewers, Pauline Kael, one of the foremost film critics of her time, famously took exception with what she called a “very commercial piece of work.” On, Kristin Hunt writes that Kael thought it was “corny American” and couldn’t believe that young, hip audiences were falling for its slick entertainment that sold “youthful narcissism.”

Kael got a few other things wrong during her career. Notably, she called Stanley Kubrick an “amateur” and dubbed 2001: A Space Odyssey a “monumentally unimaginative” film that could only be enjoyed by viewers who are “stoned or idiots.” 


Next: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Image from Wikipedia. By Source, Fair use,

Simon and Garfunkel earned a massive hit with “Mrs. Robinson,” a song that is synonymous with The Graduate, but it didn’t please a certain Joe DiMaggio. As recounted in the recently published Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hilburn, Simon had learned that DiMaggio had been offended by the reference to him and had even considered filing a lawsuit. The song includes the couplet:

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

When Simon and DiMaggio happened to meet in an Italian restaurant, Joe was charming, much to Simon’s relief. He did bring up the song, however. “What I don’t understand,” he told Simon, “is why you ask where I’ve gone,” writes Hilburn. “I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial. I’m a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank. I haven’t gone anywhere.”

PET integrated handle bottle technology advances in Australia

PET integrated handle bottle technology advances in Australia

Australia’s Integrated Plastics is boosting production of PET bottles with integrally molded handles at its plant in Sydney, NSW in response to increased demand from brand owners seeking an environmentally friendly packaging format that does not compromise on clarity.

Available in 1–4-liter sizes, Integrated molded handle PET bottles are showing renewed promise in the beverage and dairy sector.

“We started production in 2014 and turned out 3.5 million bottles. This year we should hit 16 million, delivering them to three major beverage retailers in Australia,” says Nick Mellen, managing director of Integrated Plastics. In part, these bottles are replacing PVC resin that was used in cordial bottles for some brands, but retailers ar keen to use alternatives to PVC according to Mellen.

In 2012, Integrated Plastics purchased patents owned by fellow Australian companies B&R Industries and Sangraal Australia covering the integrated molded handle (IMH) bottle processing technology and design to further commercialize the product in Australia, the Middle East and Asia. Since 2012, Integrated Plastics has also registered several new designs and patents. “Due to our success in further developments and a significant increase in interest from multinationals, Integrated Plastics acquired B&R and Sangraal in June 2018, thereby ensuring global control of the technology,” says Mellen.

Integrated Plastics also established a development partnership with Korean injection stretch-blow molding (ISBM) machine manufacture SDB Corp. and it is now manufacturing bottles on a four-cavity high speed rotary platform with orders in the system for delivery of an eight-cavity unit early next year. “Once we have additional capacity in place we also plan to target the dairy market,” says Mellen. A Korean bottler will also start using the process from January 2019 for two of its product lines.

“Efficiency modelling and our six years of experience delivering the IMH bottle in Australia has resulted in significant output enhancement, material saving and reduction in waste advantage over existing inserted handle technology and I think it’s time we got our story out,” says Mellen. The four-cavity rotary machine runs at 4,000 bottles per hour (bph) for one liter bottles. while two-liter bottle can be molded at a rate of 3,200 bph.

Preforms for the IMH bottles can be molded on conventional preform injection molding machines. Toolmakers in Australia, India and Korea currently supply preform molds, while Integrated Plastics also has agreements in place with leading tool manufacturers in Canada and China enabling them to supply tooling for the IMH process.

To globally promote IMH technology, Integrated Plastics plans to work through agents and an establishment fee plus royalty format. SDB is working as the agent for Korea, while representation is also in place in South Asia. “For North America and Europe, we are looking at exclusive licensing agreements with bigger packaging manufacturer. We would license one manufacturer but they would have the right to sublicense,” says Mellen.

Capacity boost in Japan for UHMWPE

Capacity boost in Japan for UHMWPE

Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. has expanded production capacity for its Hi-Zex Million ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) in response to growing demand from automotive and industrial battery applications. The additional facilities came online on August 7. This move boosts the company's production capacity for UHMWPE by about 15% to 8,500 tonnes per year from the original 7,500 tonnes/year at the company's Iwakuni-Ohtake Works.

Lithium ion battery separators are among the fast-growing applications for UHMWPE.

Mitsui Chemicals Hi-Zex Million UHMWPE possesses and average molecular weight of 0.5 million up to 6 million. Due to the material's excellent chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, impact resistance and self-lubrication, it is used in diverse fields such as lithium-ion battery separators, industrial materials and medical devices. Furthermore, Hi-Zex Million UHMWPE reportedly retains a consistent shape and provides excellent solubility.