In the UK a new high speed injection moulding process that could transform the manufacture of plastic packaging has raised funding of £450,000 (€562,000) with the help of The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION) and Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trust.
Developed by Im-Pak Technologies, the process uses a slam-shut mechanism to produce plastic packaging for margarine tubs, ice cream buckets, yoghurt pots, vending cups and bottles. The slam-shut process is said to cut production times by 50 per cent and creates plastic containers that are up to 35 per cent lighter than existing products.
Richard Vessey, managing director of Im-Pak Technologies, said: "Our patented Im-Pak process represents a fundamental rethink of conventional injection moulding processes, which restrict the flow of plastic into the mould extremities of thin wall articles like plastic packaging. Using the Im-Pak process molten plastic is injected into a mould that is immediately slammed shut, forcing the plastic through the mould. The speed and force of the slam-shut mechanism makes the plastic flow further, resulting in thinner-walled, lighter containers that are just as strong as conventional ones. Cooling time is also reduced so we can double production rates, resulting in cost savings of 35 to 50 per cent."
Alastair Cavanagh, Manager of OION, said: "OION's investors felt that Im-Pak's technology has obvious market potential and they were also attracted by the company's experienced management team, which brings a range of expertise from the plastics industry."
The funding will allow Im-Pak to further develop and license its technology. Im-Pak has trialled two moulds for a major multinational food producer and recently launched the technology at Chicago's National Plastics Exhibition where the company received strong interest from moulding machinery manufacturers, packaging producers and users of thin wall packaging.
Vessey concluded: "The potential market in which Im-Pak's process technology can be used is huge. One major multinational food producer buys $1.3 billion (€1.1bn) of thin wall rigid packaging, most or all of which can be made more economically using the Im-Pak process. Following production trials of the new technology, savings of $250 million pa have been projected by this producer alone."