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In the works for several years, Agr International, Inc. has announced the commercialisation of its CrystalView product for optimising the material properties of PET bottles. The introduction of the CrystalView product expands the capabilities and the potential of Agr’s Process Pilot product group well beyond the measurement and management of material distribution. With this product, bottle manufacturers have the means to run the coldest possible process in order to optimise bottles material properties (orientation) while maintaining target material distribution.

The CrystalView measurement system offers a simple and hands-free means to accomplish the optimisation of PET material properties without overstretching or going beyond the temperature boundaries that cause molecules to break and create pearlescence. Avoiding the creation of pearlescence by detecting the very edge of where the process gets too cold and pearlescence begins to form it is possible to reduce the preform processing temperature to the ideal processing point (as much as 10°C) for a given bottle design.

The CrystalView measurement system incorporates a set of discrete vision components that are mounted inside a reheat stretch blowmoulder. As bottles exit the mould, the CrystalView system scans every bottle for the onset of pearlescence. During operation, sophisticated control algorithms incorporated into the CrystalView system actively monitor the levels of pearlescence. In conjunction with the Agr Process Pilot automated blowmoulder management system, and based on a learned mathematical model that identifies the ideal control variables, adjustments are continuously made, including preform temperature, to manage bottle production to the point where the PET material properties are fully optimised, at a level just before the onset of pearlescence.

Optimisation of material properties makes it possible to create stronger, better performing bottles. This is evidenced by recent field studies performed in production conditions on bottles manufactured utilising the CrystalView system. Test results showed significant improvements in bottle performance (ca. 38%) over bottles produced on the same blowmoulder without the aid of the CrystalView system. The CrystalView system is available as an add-on option to the Process Pilot automated blowmoulder management system for all new purchases. A retrofit version is also available for Process Pilot systems currently operating in the field.

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