Blow Molding: New Testing & Handling Units at NPE
New blow molding auxiliaries for handling PET bottles, leak testing, and bottle inspection.
As reported in April’s Keeping Up section, Proco Machinery Inc., Mississauga, Ont., introduced at NPE2018 the Robo Packer case packer and Half-Cube Palletizer, both using collaborative robots (“cobots”) for packing bottles. One feature of these systems not previously reported is availability of new “sleeve-style” robot end-of-arm tooling specifically for handling PET bottles. Because these bottles can stick to each other when hot, tooling that encases each bottle—up to four at a time—in a separate sleeve prevents bottles from accidentally touching each other. The sleeve tooling (patent applied for) is 3D printed in plastic for light weight because of the relatively low payload capacity of the cobots.
Another introduction at the show was an upgraded leak tester from Amsler Equipment Inc., Richmond Hill, Ont., with a new camera system that can detect neck ovality issues. The inspection system handles bottles from 10 ml to 20 L at rates up to 18,000 bph. It can detect holes as small as 0.006 in. and can check for obstructions in the bottle neck, variations in wall thickness, and color deviation. Operating on either a continuous-motion or indexing conveyor, it also can detect fallen bottles and perform batch counting. The unit comes with an operator touchscreen with graphical display, locking caster wheels, and a 6.5-ft-long conveyor with dual guide rails.
Air Logic Power Systems (ALPS), Oak Creek, Wis., joined forces with IMD Ltd. of Switzerland (U.S. office in Nashville, Tenn.) to come up with a “Total Bottle Inspection Solution.” The new ALPS Flex Pitch is a fast, tool-less leak tester with integrated IMD Bottle Vision inspection. The system can test a wide range of empty containers without use of a timing screw, thus greatly reducing changeover time and cost for tools. Test heads can be preset to the required pitch for fast changeover between containers of different diameters. The integrated vision inspection can check for contamination, cosmetic defects, correct dimensions, and ovality with a “self-learning” ability that is said to make it intuitive and easy to use.
With single-serve containers raising shelf-life demands, packagers are seeking the barrier with the best cost-performance for PET bottles. Multilayer seems to have the upper hand, but monolayer, coating, and oxygen-scavenger technologies have all won niches.
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One of the first applications for blow molded HDPE bottles was the replacement of glass for bleach packaging.