Sacmi, Amcor collaboration sees market gains
Sacmi Imola S.C., an Italian equipment manufacturer that sold the first compression blow forming machine in 2012, says its technology continues to gain ground in the pharmaceutical and dairy container markets.
Sacmi and Amcor Rigid Plastics, a worldwide producer of rigid plastic packaging based in Ann Arbor, Mich., collaborated five years ago to adapt compression blow forming technology for pharmaceutical packaging. Amcor at that time bought a Sacmi CBF12 12-cavity compression blow forming machine for making rigid HDPE pharmaceutical bottles, marking the first commercial application of compression blow forming technology. Since 2012, Amcor has operated multiple CBF12 machines at its facility in Youngsville, N.C.
Late last year, Amcor announced it had purchased a larger CBF20 machine, a newly designed 20-cavity compression blow forming machine for producing HDPE pharmaceutical bottles at the Youngsville plant.
The CBF20 machine provides the same processing and performance benefits as the smaller machine while meeting the high-production requirements of pharmaceutical customers, Amcor officials said. The CBF20 machine, which has the same footprint as the CBF12, provides an output of 80 million to 90 million containers annually, according to the company.
“This further reinforces compression blow forming’s position as a breakthrough process for the production of pharmaceutical containers, delivering high-quality, reliable and defect-free parts now at an even higher production level,” Greg Rosati, Amcor’s marketing director for health care, said at the time of the announcement.
The CBF20 includes enhancements to increase processing efficiency and improve mold life, according to Amcor. The new unit features a gravity-fed materials-handling system instead of the vacuum-fed systems used on previous machines. Mold design engineering enhancements improved mold life.
In addition to selling the new, larger compression blow forming machine to Amcor, Sacmi reports it has made gains in a new market, selling machines for manufacturing bottles for pasteurized dairy products.
In June, Sacmi sold two additional compression blow forming systems to a major Chinese dairy company and bottler, bringing the Chinese company’s total number of compression blow forming systems to four. The company bought its first two units in 2013. The addition of the two new machines makes the company one of the world’s biggest users of Sacmi technology.
Ten CBF20 machines are now operating in the Far East, including China, Japan and Vietnam. All of them belong to dairy companies. Other units now are operating in India in pharmaceutical and health-care applications.
Compression blow forming combines compression molding and blow molding. It can offer significant advantages over conventional processes, including enhanced quality, higher productivity and the ability to produce lighter-weight bottles. For example, when producing 200-milliliter HDPE containers, the company’s CBF machines provide a weight reduction of about 20 percent, according to Sacmi.
Compression blow forming is a continuous rotary process in which resin including HDPE, PP or PET is extruded, cut and transferred into the compression cavity. A preform is formed and a pre-blow and full-blow process is completed in the same mold station with no transfer of the preform or parison. Compression blow forming has no manifold for distributing the melt, which results in better-quality parts because there are no temperature differences and less chance of burning or degrading the resin, according to Amcor.
The process also uses lower temperatures, which results in lower residual stress in the final product and reduced cycle times.
Compression blow forming results in less particulate contamination and the continuous extrusion process makes resin and color changes quicker, Amcor officials said. In addition, sustainability advantages include energy savings resulting from lower process temperatures. Also, since the process achieves thermodynamic stability more quickly, bottle production can begin within 10 minutes of machine start-up.
Sacmi says the process’s weight/resin dosing stability reduces the amount of waste and the need to feed extra resin into the molds.
Compression blow forming represents a leap forward in productivity because each CBF mold can now produce 50 percent to 100 percent more than an equivalent injection blow molding mold, Sacmi officials said. Because of an extremely short cycle time, Sacmi said a 12-cavity CBF machine has an effective output of as many as 6,000 containers per hour. A 20-cavity machine can produce 10,800 containers per hour.
Bruce Geiselman, senior staff reporter
Sacmi USA Ltd.,
Des Moines, Iowa, 515-276-2052, www.sacmiusa.com