K 2022 Innovative production cell for food and beverage can lids
Together with its project partners, Upper Austrian company Elmet has developed an innovative production cell. The system manufactures four different covers for beverage and food cans, which have been dubbed as Smartcaps.
Smartcap is a collaborative project by Elmet, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, Shin-Etsu, and Mettler Toledo. In the form of Elmet‘s Smartshot E and Smartmix Top 7000 Pro systems, two of the company‘s technological flagships are used in the production cell. The system will be presented for the first time at K 2022 at the exhibition booth of Elmet‘s partner Sumitomo (Hall 15, Booth D22). The leading business platform for the plastics and rubber industry takes place in Düsseldorf from October 19 to 26, 2022.
Lids for food & beverage cans are manufactured by an Elmet injection mould, featuring an all-electric Smartshot E valve-gate cold-runner system. Its technological high-end counterpart in material provision is the Elmet Smartmix Top 7000 Pro dosing system, responsible for precise and reliable dosing of material to the Elmet injection mold. A Sumitomo linear handling device removes the parts from the mold and transfers them to the weighing cell made by Mettler Toledo. Every single part is weighed there. The result is stored in a database and also displayed graphically to demonstrate the process accuracy of the system. After the weighing process, the silicone parts are marked by laser to ensure highest possible traceability. After lasering, the parts are placed on a conveyor belt.
The combination of high-precision dosing (Elmet Smartmix Top 7000 Pro), the all-electric injection-moulding machine (Sumitomo Intelect), and the electric valve-gate cold runner (Elmet Smartshot E) enables a previously unachievable level of accuracy in the reproduction of part weights. The special four-cavity injection mold from Elmet injects four different can lids made of liquid silicone (LSR) from partner company Shin-Etsu. The silicone lids produced serve as coverings for customary beverage cans that have been in use for decades, such as those for soft drinks, energy drinks and various alcoholic beverages. A separate cavity also produces covers for customary food cans made of sheet steel, which protect the contents from insects, for example, and keep the opened cans fresh in the refrigerator.
The dosing system is a new development from the Austrian company. Development work focused on reducing the unit‘s footprint to 1,150 x 790 mm. This makes the system the smallest liquid-silicone dosing system for 200-liter container units on the market. Compared to its predecessor, the Smartmix Top 5000 P, the Smartmix Top 7000 Pro features a completely new pump system, which now only contains approximately one third of the liquid silicone in the system, making it much easier to clean. This characteristic is very important, particularly for use in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, where the pump unit is dismantled and cleaned each time the material changes, in order to prevent mixing of different types of liquid silicone. Apart from the new pump unit, an optimized follower plate geometry also helps reduce the amount of residual material. The new system boasts a material utilization level of up to 99.6 percent. Drums are changed fully automatically to increase ease of use and keep the amount of training to a minimum. Use of special seals made of FDA-compliant materials also predestines the Smartmix Top 7000 Pro for medical applications