Masafi points the way

Masafi points the way
Masafi, one of the biggest beverage fillers in the Arab countries, has recently chosen to adopt an innovative cap solution from Switzerland - a pioneering advance, and not restricted to the Middle East. Developed by Corvaglia and making its successful debut in Mexico, the one-piece hot fill cap offers a series of advantages for use on PET bottles.

Established in 1976 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Masafi company has been market leader for some 30 years, and a supplier in the Gulf region with a first class reputation for pure, natural mineral water, fresh and natural fruit juices, gourmet snacks and facial tissue.

Masafi fills still water and fruit juices in no less than 14 different flavours under the "Masafi" brand. In addition to their standard closures, which Masafi produce themselves, they have, until now, imported two-piece caps from Australia for hot fill applications.

Corvaglia, based in Eschlikon, Switzerland, has pioneered the one-piece hot fill cap and in recent years has enjoyed huge success with this innovative concept in some of the Latin American countries. Following a successful market introduction of the cap by a big international beverage filler in Mexico, Corvaglia eventually presented the one-piece hot fill cap concept to Masafi.

The first line trials at Masafi, using 38mm caps from Mexico were, following some very minor changes to the filling equipment, totally successful and now Masafi, as the first beverage fillers in the Middle East, are producing their own hot fill caps on a 16-cavity tool supplied by Corvaglia.

"We are totally convinced by this innovative solution from Corvaglia. Filling and capping with these hot fill caps at 87°C runs smoothly and safely. We now plan to successively switch all of our lines to the one-piece Corvaglia cap", said S.M. Usman, the Masafi plant manager.

The use of one-piece caps offers economic and environmental advantages because they are made from just one type of material (HDPE) in one injection moulded process step. Two-piece caps, in contrast, are produced from polypropylene in four process steps: compression moulding, cutting and folding of the tamper band and insertion of an EVA liner or sealing an aluminium foil onto the bottle. This entails, in addition to the investment in up to four machines, associated assembly work and energy consumption. Furthermore the material used (and hence also the cost) for one-piece caps is less than for two-piece caps. "A filler can save more than 30% when using a Corvaglia one-piece hot fill closure", says Romeo Corvaglia, managing director of Corvaglia Holding AG.

And for the consumer, a solution that dispenses with the aluminium foil seal is more acceptable. "It represents a clear advantage in terms of convenience", as Mr Usman points out. "The consumer no longer has to remove an aluminium foil - and then dispose of it". Furthermore a user-friendly one-piece cap needs less effort when opening, and the consumer can be confident that the closure is more reliable than the two-piece closure with an aluminium foil.

Nevertheless one-piece caps do require a certain know-how to be sure that there is no micro-leakage. A critical point is the transition period from overpressure (caused by hot filling) shortly after capping and the vacuum that occurs as the filled bottle is cooled down. It is equally important at this second stage that the cap is totally leak-proof in order to avoid any ingress of the cooling water.

Corvaglia achieves this by using some very ingenious geometry. The 2-start, 38 mm closure, when screwed down, provides sufficient tension for a perfectly tight seal (fig. 1). This is then enhanced by a deformation of the cap under vacuum during and after the cooling stage (fig. 2).

Using the Corvaglia hot fill one-piece caps the filler is always on the safe side. After Masafi, other beverage fillers in the Middle East have already declared an interest in the cap.



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