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Automated Molding Cell Economically Produces Thin-Walled Packaging with Recycled Content

Image: Arburg Arburg hybrid Allrounder 720 H and injection molding cell
Arburg France collaborated with five partner companies to develop a high-volume, automated process for molding thin-wall containers with recycled material. 

A collaboration involving the French subsidiary of injection molding machine maker Arburg and five partner companies has developed what it calls a “new one-stop-shop concept for the production of thin-walled five-liter buckets.”

The goal of the so-called Thin Wall Integra project was to develop a high-volume, automated process for molding thin-wall containers with recycled material. The process had to achieve rapid production cycles and meet consistent quality parameters. Engel reported today the successful completion of the project. Project partners included mold maker Collomb, robotics company Pagès Group, in-mold labeling (IML) specialist Verstraete, material flow company Koch-Technik, and materials supplier Borealis.

The production process is articulated around a fully automated injection molding cell anchored by Arburg’s hybrid Allrounder 720 H with a single-cavity mold. The complete cycles takes about five seconds. 

A handling system with a telescopic arm at the rear of the machine loads IML labels into the mold. Robots remove the labeled buckets and stack them on a deposit mat, where they are picked up and palletized by another robot. Recyclate is continuously fed into the production process via an automatic conveyor system.

Arburgthin-wall bucket

The thin-walled five-liter buckets contain more than 55% of recycled content.

In addition to demonstrating what can be achieved by channeling discrete areas of expertise into a focused collaborative project, the endeavor also advanced environmental objectives, said Arburg. The finished product contains 55% of recycled material, and the “ecological design” enables material savings of up to 35%. The buckets are stackable, thereby conserving transportation and inventory resources. Moreover, the labels comply with HolyGrail 2.0 technology, through which digital watermarks are applied to packaging to facilitate sorting and recycling.

The Thin Wall Integra project was the focal point of an open house at Collomb in Oyonnax, the hub of France’s Plastics Valley, on Jan. 12, 2022.

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