France-based Sidel yesterday claimed its F300 mold as the first to be created using aluminum, providing an alternative to the traditional stainless steel ones used by the beverage sector. "The new mold is made of lightweight aluminum, which is easier to machine than steel," the company claimed. "Higher machine output is just one of the mold's many benefits." The heat resistant blow mold can withstand temperatures up to 180°C enabling it to produce PET bottles suitable for hot-filling or pasteurization. Because an aluminum mold conducts heat more efficiently than a stainless steel one, the F300 heats up and cools down rapidly, keeping wait times to a minimum during changeovers, he company claimed. It is three times lighter than stainless steel molds typically used for such filling processes, increasing machine output, the company claimed. "And because aluminum is easier to machine than steel, the new molds can be delivered more quickly," the company stated. "The F300 mold is suitable for all types of blow molding machines and for manufacturing bottles of all shapes and sizes." Sidel developed the mold in collaboration with US-based Graham Packaging, one of the world's leading producers of custom plastic bottles and containers. Graham Packaging is currently using about one hundred F300 molds at several of its US plants to produce various bottles for different market segments. The F300 mold promises gains in productivity because a lighter mold means less weight loaded onto the blow molding machine, which makes it mechanically possible to increase output, said Bob Johnston, a senior manager at Graham Packaging. "We are seeing a better return on investment and lower costs to switch bottle shapes," said Johnston. "Another advantage of the mold's light weight. It is easier to handle which leads to reduced product changeover times." As aluminum is easier to shape than stainless steel, the F300 molds can be produced two weeks faster than stainless steel molds, stated Sidel. Sidel has mold manufacturing sites at Octeville sur Mer and Neuilly sur Marne in France, at Shanghai, China and at Atlanta, the US.