A machine for applying barrier treatment to PET containers can handle up to 40,000 bottles per hour, making it the fastest of its kind in the world, its manufacturer claims.
The Actis 48 from Sidel meets the liquid food market's demands for high speed while outputting packages at lower costs, the company said.
The Actis deposits a thin layer of hydrogen-rich amorphous carbon inside a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. By reducing carbon dioxide loss and oxygen ingress, the process extends the shelf life of sensitive drinks like beer, carbonated soft drinks, juice or tea packaged in PET bottles.
The Actis can handle bottle sizes of up to about 600 ml, with the bottle height under neck ring at about 254 mm.
The treatment allows bottlers to save on materials costs because bottle weights are lighter. For example, a 600 ml PET bottle for carbonated soft drinks, weighing 28 g, has a shelf life of about eight weeks, the company stated.
The same bottle, when treated using Actis and lightened to 23 g, has a shelf life of about 20 weeks, an 18 percent savings in PET resin, the company claimed in a press relase.
The Actis 48 can handle two types of barrier treatment. One treatment can coat PET bottles in 2.5 seconds with a barrier thickness of 0.15 microns (µm) at an output rate of 30,000 bottles per hour. The second treatment, Actis Lite, has a coating time of 1.2 seconds, a barrier thickness of 0.06 µm and an output rate of 40,000 bottles per hour.
The Actis 48 is designed using rotary kinematics. It uses a vacuum system, plasma technology, process time and positive transfer. The Actis process increases bottle barriers to oxygen by 30 times and the carbon dioxide barrier by seven times.
The machine can load bottles by the base limits moving mass. Along with 48 processing stations, this reduces cycle time at each station while increasing output rates by nearly 40 per cent over the Actis 20 model.
All machine systems are fully accessible for maintenance. Daily maintenance is partly automated and is handled by a robot. Format changeovers can be done by one technician. It takes about 30 minutes to change bottle height and less than one hour for a bottle shape change, the company claimed.
Sidel plans to begin production of the first Actis 48 machine for the German beer market during the second half of 2006. Sidel, one of three units owned by the privately held Swiss group Tetra Laval, had sales of €1.1 billion last year.