Packaging manufacturer KHS has presented its FormFill machine that forms and fills plastic bottles in one step at Drinktec this week.
Instead of injecting sterilised air to expand the PET preform, the machine directly injects the liquid contents.
KHS said the FormFill promises great savings potential regarding the system size and use of resources. It is also said to provide benefits with respect to the individualisation of plastic packaging. The machine is to be ready for market by 2019.
As in the conventional processing of plastic containers, the machine heats up the preforms according to the required temperature profile. The product to be filled is then forced into the PET preforms under pressure with a controlled volume flow.
The bottle is formed by the product to be filled as opposed to the compressed air. In this process, the preform material is automatically distributed along the inner contours of the container shape. The stretch rod aligns the bottle lengthwise and is automatically retracted from the container after filling.
The given fill level is reached when the displacement volume is removed and before the cap is placed on the neck.
By doing away with an entire function module and with the smaller diameter of the rotary machine, the total amount of space required is reduced. In the current test environment of 40,000 bottles per hour, KHS claims the new procedure only needs about 25% of the installation space of standard stretch blow moulder/filler blocks when filling beverages.
KHS said users of the FormFill will see a boost in efficiency with regard to time, energy and maintenance. As the conventional stretch blow moulding process is no longer required, the KHS FormFill fills PET containers more quickly. Forming and filling takes about the same time as the formerly separate stretch blow moulding process.
Saving on the high-pressure air compressor alone results in a drop in energy consumption. Maintenance costs are cut by the use of fewer components and format parts.
KHS executive management board chairman Matthias Niemeyer said: “Our system sparks a revolution in the processing of plastic containers in the high-performance range. Once again this development is driving technological progress in the industry.”
KHS Corpoplast head of sales and technology Frank Haesendonckx added: “We regard FormFill as part of a turnkey system and are also studying the effects on downstream processes.”
As the inside skin of the containers cools faster in the FormFill process than with the standard method thanks to direct filling, KHS produces containers of greater stiffness with the same wall thickness.
This in turn allows further materials to be saved in the preforms. Design details such as logos can also be better processed, said Haesendonckx. “This increases the scope for individualisation. Beverage and detergent brands then gain another unique selling point in the store.”
KHS has also presented its Factor 100 half-litre PET bottle at Drinktec, a product the company has billed as ‘the lightest 0.5 litre bottle for still water’, weighing just 5g.
The result of a collaboration between KHS and Canadian in injection moulding machine manufacturer Husky, the name Factor 100 is based on the fact that at just 5g the bottle weighs one hundredth of its volume of 500ml.
KHS Corpoplast project engineer for bottles and shapes Christian Rommel said: “Compared to what was previously the lightest bottle on the international market to date, the new bottle allows a huge reduction in materials of about a third.”
KHS said that reducing the weight of PET bottles is especially significant as about 70% of the manufacturing costs are attributable to the materials used.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019