R&D / Leverage Ltd.

R&D/Leverage and Floreon bring PLA to the Injection Stretch Blow World!


Robert Schiavone






R&D/Leverage and Floreon bring PLA to the Injection Stretch Blow World!


 2017 - Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom - Developing a new material – particularly an environmentally friendly bioplastic for rigid container applications – was no easy feat for Floreon, an early stage technical company located in the UK that produces a high-performance specially formulated bioplastic compound which is added to standard bioplastic (PLA). Floreon’s goal was to create an innovative material with a sustainable origin and a range of end-of-life options.  In fact it took the company four years of research and development work and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Sheffield, to come up with this unique, environmentally, fully compostable and high-performing bioplastic, explained Dr. Andrew Gill, Technical Director for Floreon, headquartered in the UK.

 The company has produced about a half million pounds of the material to date, and has been actively putting in place global patents for the formulation with patents pending in the US and Japan. “We’re trying to get this bioplastic into the market for rigid packaging applications and further down the line for durable applications as well,” states Gill.  “We started with 15-liter water bottles primarily because these bottles couldn’t be recycled because of their size. We didn’t know what customers were doing with them. We’ve been trying to commercialize the technology in various applications, rigid packaging, trigger sprayers, water bottles, etc.

Key to the success of the development of this new additive to mix with the PLA bioplastic for rigid containers was the partnership with R&D/Leverage Europe to help with material testing to determine optimum processing and which applications would be suitable for the new material. 

Gill explains that Floreon has worked on the development of the bioplastic material for its own purposes since 2011 in an effort to make large bottles for water coolers. “The material had the performance but we couldn’t make a large bottle with it,” says Gill. “The problem originally was the thickness of the preform. The first 15-liter bottle failed because the preform was so thick and heavy that it required a lot of heat which essentially caused the material to crystallize using a two-stage process.” Floreon approached R&D/Leverage about this project, and R&D/Leverage took up the challenge. “We were interested in pursuing this enquiry to promote our commitment to Green issues, and because our expertise in PET and Single Stage Injection Stretch Blow molding applications, which we felt would be optimum for the Floreon material,” says Alan Tolley, Managing Director. “Our first reaction was one of trepidation as we went into the unknown. With this in mind however, we chose a smaller cosmetic jar that in our opinion would be the easiest product with which to get good results.”

R&D/Leverage set the project in its Product Solution Laboratory using one of the company’s six injection stretch blow-molding machines. Technical service engineers and engineers from Floreon used their expertise to process the material with excellent results. R&D/Leverage then upped the ante in the second trial, choosing a much more difficult bottle with challenging characteristics – the R&D/Leverage proprietary Twist bottle.

“On this trial we ran the Floreon material using several different weights and preform wall thicknesses that we have for our Twist bottle,” explains Tolley.

Steve Gough, Technical Manager for R&D/Leverage, comments: “We found that the Floreon resin provided a large process window with great results in terms of optimized material distribution and sharp corner ratio. The capability transferred through with consistent good products produced from 3mm to 8mm thick preforms.”

 Working together as a team, Floreon and R&D/Leverage once again realized success.

“R&D/Leverage was an ideal partner to help us take our research and development, and turn it into reality,” states Floreon’s Gill. “They were able to dry the material to our specs, then select the appropriate machine and tooling. The initial test was performed with a simple application – cosmetic jars – and that trial was really successful.”

 R&D/Leverage’s UK facility specializes in Single Stage PET blow molded bottles. The company is considered the world’s leading solution provider to that market, and can bring its expertise to PLA along with PET, PP and Eastman’s Triton materials.  R&D/Leverage has the ability to offer product evaluation, tool design and manufacture, tool qualification as well as proving product viability in the company’s Product Solution Laboratory.

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R&D/Leverage Europe is recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of single stage tooling, and supplies bottles and jars in PET. Services include product evaluation, tooling design, tooling manufacture, and technical service assistance. The company also has on-site injection stretch blow molding machines (ISBM), from which the company offers pilot tooling, material trials, colour trials, and production tool qualification.

R&D/Leverage USA, headquartered in Missouri, services the food and beverage, home and personal care, and healthcare industries. It is the only company to offer both structural brand development and mold manufacturing capabilities. Structural brand development capabilities are upfront research such as retail audits that include trend and color study, ethnographic research, consumer focus groups, concept development, validation, and implementation. Mold manufacturing capabilities include full mold manufacturing for PET tooling, IBM tooling, injection molds, as well as unit tool development, testing, validation, and training.



For more information, visit our NEW website at www.rdleverage.com or email info@rdleverage.com.


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