Austrian company PET Technologies has recently brought to the market a new generation of flexible PET stretch blow-molding machines called APF-Max. Their output varies between 3000 and 14,000 bottles per hour (bph), while the bottle volumes are between 0.1 and 6 L. The product range includes six basic models and five others. The first customers have already highlighted some of the new features.
User-friendly concept and innovative design
The modular concept machines have a streamlined design with alternative coloring and an easy to operate control console. The operation communication interfaces are connected from the top of the device while the electric cabinet is behind. The central lubrication system of the machine makes for easier maintenance. For shipping, the machine is divided into two parts for easy handling and logistics.
The APF-Max blow molder is equipped with a PLC from B&R Automation. (Since 2017, B&R Automation is part of the ABB group and has been well established in India for many years with its head office in Pune in Western India.) The program and the manuals for the machine are available in global languages depending on the customer’s location.
The APF-Max series has configurations with 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-,6-, and 8-cavities. The notion of flexibility in terms of the APF-Max series by PET Technologies stands means that –
- There is a wide range of preform neck standards. With the same machine, you can produce both 100 ml bottles for sanitizers, for example, and 1 L wide neck jars for coffee.
- A PET bottle manufacturer can increase the output of the blow molder that it already has running. The 4-cavity model with an output of 7,000 bph can be expanded to 14,000 bph. This is done by installing additional cavities and making the respective changes in the heater.
- A wide range of bottle formats, from 100 ml up to 6 L, is possible. For instance, the model APF-Max 5, to produce up to 2 liter bottles, has five cavities. When a user decides to switch to 1-gallon bottles, the machine is readjusted for three cavities.
- There is a hot fill option applicable to the entire APF-Max series – an additional advantage to the features described above.
- The blow molders are equipped with a double air recovery system to cover the demand of low pressure and the pressure for preblow.
Molds quick change
The flexibility of the Universal APF-Max blow molder can be utilized productively because of its quick-change system. The equipment concept allows using many mold sets for a wide range of PET bottles with minimum change over time. The blow mold is equipped with non-spill quick-change connections that are replaced in one piece.
Thus, 15 minutes are enough to change the blow mold and start producing another bottle format. In the heater of an 8-cavity blow molder, you can change all 108 mandrels in just 4 minutes.
The servo drives provided allow more precise positioning together with high speed, stable heater conveyor speed, and blowing process. The stretching rod position is automatically controlled depending on the bottle height when you switch from one bottle format to another. The preblow is also controlled via the B&R Automation PLC.
NIR heating and low total installed power
The APF-Max blow molder is equipped with a special short-wave near-infrared heating system (NIR). Although this is not a common heating method for the PET blow molding market, preform heating is more efficient while fewer kilowatts of energy are consumed. The advantages of a NIR heating system for PET bottle production are uniform temperature distribution between the inner and outer parts of the preform wall and reduced heating time. Additional benefits are the compactness of the heater and its reduced heating time.
Ceramic reflectors are used to improve preform heating and to reduce energy consumption. Automatic temperature regulation is also provided. Overall, the entire design and the NIR heating system mean reduced energy consumption of the blow molder.
Universal and operator-friendly, economical, and flexible
Apart from the flexibility of expansion, low energy consumption, and ease of use, the new AFP-Max PET stretch blow molders are compact high output devices. Early adopters such as Avida (in Russia) and the Kazan milk plant have already installed three blow APF-Max molders, though these were launched in the market not long ago.