A look backAlthough there had long been a need for PVC-free solutions for metal vacuum closures and the company had already had extensive experience developing PVC-free materials, the challenge was to find such a solution for Twist-Off® closures. Unlike with PVC-free crown caps or aluminum closures, new manufacturing equipment would have had to be designed specifically for these PVC-free metal vacuum closures. The conventional PVC Plastisol machines were not suitable for the newly developed materials. At this point, at the latest, it had become clear that the development would necessitate high investments on the part of the closure manufacturers, and many advised against it at the time. There was a hurdle that had to be overcome, which did not concern pure product development but required an adjustment of the environment in order to be successful.
Still, the ACTEGA team was certain that this was the right solution for the future. The use of PVC- and plasticizer-free sealing materials was of the utmost importance particularly when it came to canned foods for which metal vacuum closures were used, due to the issue of plasticizer residues in food. The EU regulations were tightened increasingly to prevent this from occurring. As a result, it became apparent that only plasticizer-free systems would be successful in the long run due to the toughening of migration limits alone. So it was essential to protect the PROVALIN® technology, and a patent application was filed in 2007.
Market launchWith an interested customer – Pano – and a purchaser – Dittmann – the conditions were optimal for ACTEGA to introduce the new product range. On the one hand, there was the technological knowhow and the required closure production equipment, and on the other, the requirements of a branded goods manufacturer. With these initiative partners, there was the technology push and market pull needed to lead the lengthy and complex development to a lasting and sustainable success. The cooperation with ACTEGA in Grevenbroich was another contributing factor. After all, a Twist-Off® closure consists not only of the metal shell and the sealing material, but also, among other things, of adhesive interior and exterior coatings. In addition, BPA-free materials had to be developed – another challenge, especially regarding the resistance to acidic filling materials. Today, such BPA-free pressure-sensitive coatings are available.
Research and developmentThe material formulations developed have to be intensively tested and inspected to ensure, among other things, their processability and functionality. While initially only one laboratory machine was available, today the ACTEGA team can look forward to new Sacmi machinery (ring liner technology), which will be available in 2021. With this machinery and the existing steam-vacuum capping machines, sterilization chambers, and pasteurization chambers, the complete cap production and filling processes can be mapped. This makes it possible to respond even faster, more effectively, and in a more targeted manner to constantly changing market requirements.
In this process, new challenges can continually arise. For example, on the part of the filling industry, where the topic of sterilization has been under discussion for some time, there is a demand to increase the temperature in order to shorten the sterilization time. The legislative side also keeps a close watch on things, for example, when FDA or the EU revaluates substances such as additives that come into contact with food, or migration limits shift