Oak Brook, Illinois – The reduction in weight and the increased use of recycled content increase the need to tightly control the PET blow molding process, said consultant Mike Urquhart.
“We’re always going further and you will need ever greater control to take advantage of this and still save money,” he said.
Urquhart, a consultant from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and former Vice President of Global Sales for Packaging Systems at Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., shared industry trends at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ annual Blow Molding Conference.
PET Bottles Water bottles have been on a great weight loss diet for years.
“Literally billions of pounds saved on PET over the last decade when a 15-gram bottle went to a 12-gram bottle, went to a 10-bottle and now for a lot to an 8, 8 ½-half The area declined in these products, ”said Urquhart.
Less resin is both a good environmental message and a huge cost saving, he said.
For precise control, Urquhart cited products such as the Process Pilot from Agr International Inc., which controls the bottle variation on the blow molding machine. Two of the largest water bottlers have standardized Process Pilot for all of their machines, he said.
According to Urquhart, PET has grown to about 50 percent of the beverage packaging market, but accounts for less than 10 percent for household and personal care packaging and less than 5 percent for groceries.
“One of the big constraints that go much higher is the lack of a good, economical barrier material that won’t spoil the recycle stream,” he said.
Husky and Kortec, the co-injection molding unit of Milacron Holdings Corp., have made major improvements to reduce the amount of EVOH in the barrier layer, Uquhart said. He said that Solvay Specialty Polymers and Husky have developed an important new innovation, Solvay’s Verian High Barrier Polyester, where the barrier layer and the layers that surround it are made from the same base polymer.
“This could really be a turning point in terms of markets that we can address,” he said, such as small carbonated soft drink bottles and beer.
Consumer product manufacturers want to use more recycled plastics. Procter & Gamble Co. recently launched a program to use plastic beach trash in its Head & Shoulders shampoo.
“More and more brand owners are using it to appease the public, but in many cases it’s also a good cost saver,” said Urquhart.
The consultant also had a message for the manufacturers of blow molding machines: watch out for Chinese competitors. He said one such company, Tech-Long Machinery Co. Ltd., “has made great strides since it was founded”. [in the U.S. market] really only a few years ago. ”Tech-Long has a North American headquarters in Duluth, Georgia.
“My message is that the competition is coming,” he said. “If you keep improving your product, you can stay ahead. Otherwise, you will face someone claiming to be as good or almost as good as you at a much lower cost.
Urquhart gave the new Bottle Zone at next year’s NPE in Orlando, Florida, a plug that will be like a “Mini-Drinktec”. The zone will have more than 80 suppliers of machinery and related equipment and materials centralized in an exhibition space of approximately 95,000 square meters.
Visitors to NPE2018 will see machines for blow molding bottles. The Orange County Convention Center is installing a plate for a compressed air generator in front of South Hall to supply bottle manufacture, he said.