Who, feeling thirsty, has not casually opened a bottle of water without so much as a thought to the closure cap on that bottle?
It’s an oft-repeated action, but we never ask ourselves about the industrial process that lies behind the construction of that cap. Yet behind this apparently simple object – whether it be plastic or metal– lie highly sophisticated technologies that stem from years of research aimed at providing secure results and high-speed production.
First, the caps have to be perfect: on-bottle cap application, which occurs at rates of thousand per minute must be continuous and faultless; shutting down an entire bottling line because of one cap is inadmissible. And as the experts will tell you, the application torque needs to be perfect too – as must the torque needed to open it! Secondly, the cap must seal, but not too much, so as to prevent pressure problems. Furthermore: the safety band must have just the right breaking strain; too weak, and it will break during application, making the bottle unacceptable; too tight and the consumer won’t be able to open the bottle. Finally the cap must be light – the lighter the better – but without compromising performance.
Water, CAF (cold aseptic filling), Hot Filling, CSD (carbonated soft drinks): these are just a few of the filling processes that need, as a function of the product to be bottled, specifically designed caps. Several materials can be used: polypropylene, polyethylene, high density, low density, with gasket, without gasket and so on. Sacmi Caps & Closures has, for many years now, constantly been creating new designs and new finishes, developing modifications and seeking out new solutions. Because the closures industry doesn’t stand still for a minute. New technologies and new production processes spring up all the time – such as compression, to reduce energy consumption, speed up output, make the product lighter and reduce costs – while other become obsolete and are quickly abandoned by the market. It’s a race for development that knows no pause, and its result is the production of ever-lighter caps with ever-better performance, not to mention innovative anti-fake systems.
Behind every cap, then, lie years of research and development. And it was the ISBT – an international committee consisting of the major firms in the beverage industry, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Krones, Sacmi, Sidel, etc – that recently defined a standard allowing producers to move towards lighter bottles and caps while safeguarding the exacting performance parameters of the closure. So we have now moved from the traditional PCO1810 finish to the new PCO1881, the dimensional differences of which are evident in the figure: a standard that became necessary to prevent the uncontrolled proliferation of too many new solutions and proposals, which would multiply the difficulties faced by bottlers and cap producers alike, with evident disadvantages for both producers and consumers.
For its part, Sacmi has taken on a decisive role in developing caps over the last few years. Yet, above all, it has been a world leader when it comes to the technology used to produce them. Compression, in fact, is a new method for making plastic products: the plastic is extruded at lower-than-normal temperatures, thus reducing energy requirements during both the heating and cooling stages and saving significant amounts of time. The end result is a more economic, faster production process that is also more environmentally-friendly and, ultimately, more market-competitive.