Chalone Vineyard of Napa, CA, is the first to benefit from a new molded fiber technology called PulpFusion. Developed by Regale (Napa, CA) and unveiled at Pack Expo in Chicago, PulpFusion is essentially a new twist on both mold development and pulp drying processes. Regale claims it can reduce costs by 80% and lead time by 90% compared to other molded fiber technologies.
It all begins with the “rapid tooling” process that makes the mold. Instead of relying on traditional milled molds, which might take three months to build, Regale uses a computer-guided laser to fuse together molecules of nylon powder into molds that can be built in three days. Average mold cost, says Regale, is less than $950. The mold can then be used by Regale to manufacture commercial quantities of molded pulp for the customer.
The other key to PulpFusion is thermal drying, a patented process that occurs in-tool. Eliminated is the need to move a wet part from the mold and into a long and expensive gas-fired drying tunnel. The part remains in the mold and is dried by what Regale calls “thermal emissives.” The entire process takes less than a minute, says Regale.
Chalone Vineyard took advantage of PulpFusion technology by having Regale design and manufacture a horizontal partition system called InPart™. One molded fiber piece in the bottom of the corrugated shipper holds bottle bases while a second piece holds them by the neck. The result: no scuffed labels.
Other companies said to be testing PulpFusion technology include Hewlett-Packard and Libbey Glass.