PET packaging technology specialist SIPA has introduced additional improvements to automation on its XFORM 500 preform injection molding system. They will enable processors to raise productivity beyond the already high levels possible with the XFORM 500, which accepts molds of up to 144 cavities, and which has quickly gained a reputation for its dependability, flexibility and overall high cost-effectiveness.
The XFORM 500 was unveiled three years ago at NPE 2012 in Orlando, Florida. It stands among the leaders in terms of speed, with a dry cycle time of 1.6 seconds or better on a 400-mm stroke. Units are now in operation at customers around the world. SIPA is particularly proud to have recently sold systems running 144-cavity molds to preform makers in Latin America, North Africa and Central Asia. One began producing preforms in January, and all three should be in operation by April.
Azerbaijan Coca-Cola Bottlers is one of these three. Located in Baku, the country’s capital, the company is using the XFORM 500 to produce preforms for Coca-Cola bottles ranging in size from 500 mL to 2.0 L. Azerbaijan Coca-Cola Bottlers is an existing SIPA customer, and until now has been producing preforms several on first-generation systems. The two companies have been collaborating for over a decade.
SIPA is among a highly select group of global equipment suppliers offering preform injection molding systems capable of handling these very high cavitation molds. Even fewer companies are in the position to produce the molds to go with the production systems. SIPA is in fact one of the leading PET preform mold makers in the world.
Processors can now benefit from the XFORM 500 in its EVO version. This features a new high-speed cooling robot, which provides the most effective cooling yet of preform body and neck, helping processors to cut cycle times while improving dimensional consistency in the product. The improved cooling system is particularly effective on preforms with thicker walls.
SIPA’s own end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) can be configured with three or four cooling stages, and functions without a typical source of maintenance downtime, the photocells normally installed in standard EOATs. This is because the new design incorporates much faster communications that make it possible to check the cooling tube while the EOAT is moving below it. The new EVO robot also accepts legacy EOATs, increasing even further the flexibility of the machine and eliminating additional costs for the user.
Cost of ownership of the XFORM 500 is the lowest of any machine in its class. Initial investment costs are especially low for processors with an existing park of preform molds. Low maintenance, high efficiency, and water consumption that is lower than any rival, all help to minimize running costs. Mold wear is very low, thanks to such features as the robust construction of the double-toggle clamp unit and its even clamp force distribution: several customers molds running that have already gone well past 10 million cycles on this platform. The XFORM 500 boasts the lowest platen deflection in the industry. Machine operators and maintenance staff will appreciate the ease of access to the mold area for inspection and component replacement.
On the injection unit side, the XFORM 500 uses the classical configuration of a continuously running extruder feeding a shooting pot. The very low screw rotation speed ensures that material stress is low and there is only minimal reduction in intrinsic viscosity. Up to 50 percent of recycled flakes can be incorporated into the feedstock without the need for any modifications to the standard plasticising group. The XFORM 500 can be fitted with either a 120-mm or 140-mm extruder, with respective outputs of 800 and 1200 kg/h.