Engel shows off thin-walled rPET containers at K

Oct. 7, 2022
High-speed injection unit, mold and in-mold labeling combine to make a sustainable container that will be produced on the show floor.

By David Tillett

The European Plastics Pact calls for all plastic packaging to contain 30 percent recycled material and be 100 percent capable of recycling by 2025. However, some experts say achieving that goal for thin-walled food containers, which are typically made from polyolefins or PS, will not be possible. To help address this dilemma, Engel announced it will showcase an innovation allowing recycled PET (rPET) to be injection molded directly into thin-walled containers at its display in Hall 15, Booth C58.

Several factors combine to make this possible. The cell features an Engel e-speed 280/50 IMM equipped with a new high-performance injection unit. The injection unit can reach injection speeds of up to 55 inches per second at a maximum injection pressure of up to 37,709 pounds per square inch, which Engel said makes it the most dynamic injection unit on the market worldwide.

The rPET Engel is using at the show comes from drink bottles recycled by Austria-based Alpla Group. Brink provided the cell’s mold and in-mold labeling (IML) automation, and IPB Printing, the labels; both companies are based in the Netherlands.

The mold allows Engel to process labels that meet different global IML trends, including the European PET Bottle Platform and/or RecyClass recommendations favored in the EU, and the Association of Plastics Recyclers specifications in the U.S.

The American market looks for IML dyes that can be washed off, while in Europe the market calls for IML labels that float off during the recycling process.

Engel said its K Show display marks the first time that PET can be injection molded directly in thin-walled applications. Until now, only thick-walled parts, such as bottle preforms, could be injection molded, and then subsequently transformed into thin-walled final forms via another process, such as blow molding.

The cell will produce transparent 125ml containers with a wall thickness of 0.32mm.


Engel Machinery Inc., York, Pa., 717-764-6818, www.engelglobal.com 

David Tillett, associate editor

[email protected]

About the Author

David Tillett | Associate Editor

Associate Editor David Tillett writes and edits for Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Plastics Recycling and The Journal of Blow Molding. He covers new products, industry news, patents and consumer and business equipment. He has more than 20 years of experience in daily newspaper, online and magazine journalism.