Pretium Packaging, a North American manufacturer of plastic containers and closures, using technology from Practically Impossible Labs, Houston, TX, has developed a 64-ounce, 38-400 mm finish, stock PET container with an integrated handle. Trademarked, the SureHandle™ PET container, this disruptive commercialization now gives brand owners significant shelf differentiation, handling convenience, and aesthetics that were not previously possible.
SureHandle™ containers create multiple marketing opportunities for brand owners seeking to appeal to a wider audience. The container is easier to handle for both younger children and older adults, and those with physical challenges, compared to pinch grip or straight-sided alternatives. The handle not only provides carrying advantages, but also improved pouring control. It has been engineered for products needing fill temperatures up to 120° F and can accommodate an induction seal or foam liner.
Additionally, the container has been designed with enhanced top load capabilities. This enables the use of a shrink-wrapped tray pack (vs. a corrugated case) which can withstand stacking of five layers to a pallet, four pallets high. Using a tray pack can potentially reduce secondary packaging costs by up to 80%. This also means easier unloading at the retail level, as well as retail-ready displays for big box stores. The end result is a cost-competitive container alternative, with significant convenience benefits, and reduced secondary packaging.
“There have been a variety of attempts over the years to develop handled PET containers, but most have fallen short of the mark. This new technology creates all sorts of possibilities for products—including beverages, foods and household and industrial chemicals—that could benefit from a monolayer container with an ergonomic handleware solution” says Paul Kayser, president and chief executive officer, Pretium.
The container combines preform technology developed by Practically Impossible Labs, and Pretium’s injection and blow molding manufacturing expertise. The capability begins with the preform which is structurally different than traditional straight-sided, injection molded preforms used to blow mold PET containers. This preform features an injection molded handle attached to the side wall.
The integrated-handle preform is loaded in the same manner as a conventional preform. Proprietary enhancements have been made to standard blow cavities to accept and position the handle during the blowing process. Because no secondary operation is required to add the handle to the container, the end result is increased structural integrity.
“Pretium invested significant resources to be able to injection mold the preform and blowmold a bottle with an integral handle. We had to address unique challenges such as handle orientation, preform handling to protect the handles, special ovens for preform heating and blow mold cavity design, and still meet the substantially higher container durability and top load performance criteria,” Kayser says.
Pretium will be producing the preforms and bottles at its Walterboro, South Carolina facility on Husky Injection Molding Systems and Sidel reheat stretch blow molding equipment, respectively.
Currently available in monolayer, PET only, Pretium has partnered with several vendors/suppliers who can provide additives such as UV inhibitors and oxygen scavengers to address barrier needs requirements. Unlike two-piece handled containers, which typically are made from more than one material, the integrated PET handle/body combination is made solely from PET, which facilitates recycling. Monomaterial structure means that the bottle does not have the potential to contaminate the PET recycling stream.
Specific food and beverage examples ideally suited for the SureHandle™ container include cold-pressed juices, ready-to-drink teas, sport drinks, nutritional supplements, edible oils, dressings, sauces, marinades, etc. In the household/industrial chemicals category, liquid cleaners and detergents would also benefit.