Swiss injection molding machine manufacturer Netstal to showcase dual-layer PRELACTIA barrier preforms for milk bottles at Chinaplas (April 24-27, Hall 2, Stand T01). Primarily, PRELACTIA can be used to package liquid dairy products with a long shelf life safely, economically and with a visually appealing result. The new cloud-based analysis app AnalytiX helps injection molding companies to further increase efficiency.
Maximum freedom of design for milk bottles
Swiss injection molding machine manufacturer Netstal will be presenting its innovative PRELACTIA packaging solution for liquid dairy products at Chinaplas. In addition to fulfilling numerous technical functions, modern-day packaging also needs to be an attractive advertising media and purchasing incentive. Brand owners in the carbonated soft drinks segment have long since exploited the broad freedom of design offered by PET bottles in an endeavor to stand out from the competition at the point of sale with increasingly unconventional bottle shapes. This phenomenon is less common in relation to the filling of liquid dairy products due to the significant limitations of conventional HDPE and carton milk packaging. "PRELACTIA PET preforms provide fillers of liquid dairy products with new opportunities to distinguish themselves from the competition with customized bottle shapes," explained Stefan Müller, Sales Director Asia at Netstal.
Improved light barrier despite low additive content
The double-layer structure of the patented barrier preform offers a significant economic benefit compared to other packaging processes. During the first step of the overmolding process, a 1 mm-thick, inner gray layer is injected. The dark color effectively creates an excellent light barrier. "A good comparison would be with early milk bottles made of dark-brown colored glass, PRELACTIA blocks out virtually 100 percent of the visible light spectrum. As a result, the bottles are particularly well-suited for milk products with the longest possible use-by dates," declared Müller. In a second production step, the previously injected blank is coated with a 1.4 mm-thick, pure white outer skin. The color is produced through the addition of the white pigment titanium dioxide. In contrast to single layer bottles, this process allows the volume of titanium dioxide to be consequently reduced from at least 10 percent to only 3 percent of the entire weight. "The market price for titanium dioxide is between seven and eight euros per kilogram. As such, the annual savings potential is considerable," said Müller.
Cost-efficient and sustainable milk bottles made of pure PET
Not least due to ecological aspects, the contemporary PET milk bottle also has the potential to force the outdated HDPE bottle out of the market in the long-term. PET raw material is around 30 percent less expensive than HDPE. This savings effect is underpinned by the fact that with PRELACTIA and its thin walls, bottles are around 20 to 30 percent lighter. "In contrast to an extrusion-blown process, no appreciable material loss occurs during the injection molding process. Water and energy consumption is significantly reduced. These material and resource savings pay off for the brand owner and make PRELACTIA a very sustainable solution," explained Müller. As a result of the injection molding process the thread is precisely defined, allowing the bottle to be reliably sealed with a screw cap even after opening multiple times. Any additional sealing with aluminum foil is consequently superfluous. PRELACTIA bottles are made from pure PET and are therefore fundamentally recyclable. "In point of fact the question of recycling colored PET has not yet been fully addressed in many countries despite the increasing market shares. However, as one of the largest European countries, France has proved that the collection, separation and recycling of colored PET milk bottles is indeed possible," emphasized Müller. Customers in French supermarkets have been able to buy milk in lightweight PRELACTIA PET bottles throughout the country for a number of years.
Reliably connected: Cloud-based injection molding using AnalytiX
"Industry 4.0 is a key theme for our Chinese customers. Under the term Plastics 4.0, Netstal develops innovative digital solutions with which our customers are able to achieve further increases in efficiency in their production processes," stated Müller. At the Chinaplas in Shanghai, the Swiss company will be showcasing its new analysis app AnalytiX in Asia for the first time. This cloud-based production monitoring allows users to keep track of their key machine parameters online, anytime, anywhere. "Our customers benefit from automatic process and machine status analyses. This consequently saves a significant amount of time and increases employee efficiency," explained Müller. Supported by intelligent stability and productivity ratios, the user can identify individual machine trends or performance deviations at a glance.
All data are stored in Switzerland
The important subject of data security is a priority at Netstal. All information is hosted in the secure Netstal cloud in Switzerland and is not accessible to third parties. User management and the granting of access rights is controlled entirely by the customer. A crucial prerequisite for the utilization of AnalytiX is that injection molding machines are equipped with the 'iOT Ready Package'. The package comprises the NRS Connect module (Netstal Remote Support) and Euromap 15 interface. A machine's connection to the Internet is facilitated either via cable (LAN) or wireless (WIFI, 4G). The basic version of AnalytiX itself is available free of charge as an app for iOS or Android. Fee-based subscriptions allow the functional scope to be flexibly adapted to meet specific requirements.