Following the purchase of a fully-electric IntElect 160 Smart machine from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, injection moulding specialist Patterson & Rothwell has become the first company to produce recyclable thin wall PET premium dessert pots for the food industry.

Injection-moulded general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) pots crack easily and cannot be recycled. Patterson & Rothwell knew that if it could develop a pot made from more hard-wearing and eco-friendly PET, it would be offering something unique in the marketplace.

After two years of focused R&D, the company has accomplished its goal – stable production of recyclable PET pots that are 0.4mm thinner than GPPS dessert pots.

“Everyone doing PET was telling us this couldn’t be done,” recalls Dave Bowden, sales and marketing manager at the Oldham-based injection moulding firm. “Because the cost of the wall section would make the PET pot prohibitively expensive, we knew we had to produce a thin wall pot in order to maintain the same price point as a GPPS pot.”

The pots also needed to utilise the multi-cavity process of at least eight impressions per cycle, to make them cost effective.

“The IntElect Smart enabled us to run the tool on far greater cavitation, filling all eight moulds, whilst reducing cycle time by 20-25%,” says Dave Bowden. He also credits Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s activeFlowBalance technology for the favourable results.

The energy consumption savings that can be accrued with Sumitomo’s IntElect 160 machine instilled further confidence that the process was economically viable.

In March this year, after two years of testing and R&D, Patterson & Rothwell purchased the IntElect 160 Smart, giving it the capabilities to produce recyclable PET pots with walls as thin as 0.8mm.

“The retailers are driving this – they are pushing for different shapes and for packaging that is recyclable,” says Dave Bowden. “Ultimately we are predicting an industry-wide shift to PET, and within six months from now we expect our new IntElect machine to be operating at full capacity. The future is looking very exciting for us, and this machine is a major contributing element to this.”