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Creating more sustainable recyclable and reusable packaging

Creating more sustainable recyclable and reusable packaging

News 01.10.2021

Trexel has long been a pioneer in physical foaming technologies using their MuCell® technology. MuCell® has been in commercial production for 20 years enabling lighter and more dimensionally stable injection molded parts. The company has recently been focusing on packaging, developing the P-Series, a MuCell system designed specifically for fast-cycle packaging applications. The benefits include thinner wall molding from reduced material viscosity and substantially reduced injection pressure and clamp tonnage, unique design freedoms with the elimination of flow restrictions during cavity filling and the ability to pack end-of-fill features through foaming, and the ability to produce opaque packaging that has the ability to be recycled in the clear recycling stream.

Bockatech UK RD Centre with Trexel P 300

EcoCore MuCell development is carried out at the Bockatech R&D centre in the UK on a high speed BMB injection moulding machine fitted with a Trexel P-300 SCF delivery system. Lewis Wood - Head of Product Management (Left), Tony Den Braber - Head of Application Deployment (Right)

Trexel has teamed up with Bockatech (UK) to further develop technologies that complement Bockatech EcoCore®. Products made with EcoCore use a combination of innovations — in materials, processes, mold design as well as component design — and are lightweight, insulated, strong and durable.

Together, Trexel and Bockatech are working to create more sustainable recyclable and reusable packaging for to-go food service, food retail and other FMCG as well as industrial applications.

EcoCore significantly reduces the cycle time required, to a level similar to that of traditional unfoamed thin wall injection molded plastic components. This reduction, in combination with a cut in material brought about by the use foam, makes the process beneficial in terms of both cost and performance for many packaging applications. These applications include reusables, those that benefit from a thermal barrier and containers that require extra strength. Typical applications include to-go coffee and cold drink cups, noodle pots and industrial pails.

EcoCore containers are made by injecting a gas laden melt (typically polypropylene) into a mold quickly at high pressure. The mold is opened almost immediately after filling. Expansion is controlled by skins, formed on the inner and outer faces of the container walls by cooling, that have molten and foaming resin in the center.

Typically using EcoCore results in a weight saving of around 30% compared to traditional injection molded containers.

Bockatech EcoCore skin foam skin wall

Bockatech EcoCore uses polypropylene and creates skin-foam-skin walls instantly — cutting cycle times, increasing strength, reducing material and boosting thermal protection.

EcoCore was originally developed using chemical foaming agents, Bockatech is now working with MuCell as they are continuing to push the boundaries of what foam light weighting can achieve as well as applying it to other packaging forms.

“The collaboration between Bockatech and Trexel was started to enable us to get a better understanding of the actual benefits of using gas foaming agents, in place of chemical foaming agents (CFAs), for packaging,” said Chris Bocking, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Bockatech. “EcoCore moldings, made with MuCell, feature different cell structures to those made with CFAs. This results in containers that take advantage of specific expansions designed for MuCell N2 and we're looking forward to sharing more about the excellent results from the collaboration later this year.”

Currently Bockatech is using Trexel’s MuCell in the development of innovative and more sustainable retail food packaging for one of the best-known US food brands as well as caps for a leading FMCG brand in Europe.

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