Traditionally, thermoformed containers have been straight walled or tapered out to release them from the production mold. However, IMA’s open mold technology allows a proprietary shape to be formed prior to filling and sealing. The system can be used to shape unique-to-brand containers for a variety of food products, including yogurt, cream spreads, jellies and jams, juices, water, butter, margarine, sauces and fruit salads.
IMA Dairy & Food USA (formerly OYSTAR USA)—whose parent company, IMA Group, develops and manufactures complete packaging lines and individual machines for the dairy and food industries—introduced the versatile thermoforming technology for its Erca EF Series of form/fill/seal machines. On EF FFS Series machines, manufacturers utilizing the open mold technology can produce up to 18,000 product-filled portion cups, or 16,800 product-filled bottles, per hour. In addition to a variety of shaping possibilities, an array of labeling options is available, including wraparound and spotside.
An important feature in IMA’s open mold technology is its ability to reduce waste. A special Erca plastic stretching device minimizes the bottom thickness in unused thermoforming areas, decreasing the amount of overall scrap waste material, while the die-cutting and pick-and-place processes limit wasted lid material. Not only is less waste environmentally friendly, it can also lead to significant savings, from using less packaging materials to cutting transportation and storage costs.