IMA Dairy & Food has installed a sophisticated grinder designed to expedite the cutting tool sharpening process for its ZERO Technology, a capability that helps food brands adopt sustainable mono-material cup packages.

Highlighted by an extractable central cutting unit (CCU), the Zero Technology process already featured minimized production downtime for change-outs, low spare part costs and a high number of punches between sharpenings. With grinding technology allowing for onsite sharpening of individual cutting teeth, downtime is decreased for food brands seeking solutions for incorporating sustainable cup packaging materials.

IMA’s ZERO Technology can reportedly cut as many as 24 cups simultaneously, providing cutting and pre-cutting of eco-conscious materials such as PET, PP and PLA. This allows for breaking multipacks into individual units—a process that has limited the use of mono-material packaging materials.

The onsite grinder allows for re-sharpening of punches without delay, the company says. The grinder’s wheel head has a rigid structure, with a motor assembly mounted in a heavy casting casing. This setup balances the masses and packs the back side of the guideways, thereby limiting adjustments and avoiding flexion. An additional vertical spindle can be fitted as an option in the wheel head for specific grinding operations. The cartridge wheel-spindle arrangement has three pairs of angular contact bearings mounted on a nitride hardened spindle, providing the rigid support required for high metal sharpening accuracy.

While the grinder can be outfitted or retrofitted onto most form-fill-seal machines, FFS equipment from companies in the IMA family seamlessly incorporate Zero Technology with advanced grinding capabilities.

Using an interchangeable cutting elements setup that allows individual tool components to be replaced onsite, line stoppage can be reduced to 20 minutes rather than the three to six hours required to switch out an entire cutting tool. This simple “building block” approach also internalizes the servicing process, keeping the tool’s various components in-house for ongoing maintenance rather than shipping the cutting tool to an external entity.

Cost of ownership is also reduced. This is because internally replacing CCUs piecemeal is less expensive than replacing cutting tools externally. In addition, IMA’s Zero Technology cutting tools are more robust than conventional tools, yielding upward of 7 million punches between sharpenings.

ZERO Technology uses independent sleeves that allows cup design changes without the need to manufacture a new thermoforming mold. The result is a by-design materials agnosticism that can help food brands take important next steps in sustainability. Outfitting a formed cup with a PET lid and label creates a recyclable package for premium sustainability. In addition, the use of transparent monomaterials makes the product visible to consumers, enhancing on-shelf aesthetics