1. What type of bottles do you sell?
PI Labs does not manufacture bottles, but provides technical and engineering assistance to manufacturers and converters who license IMT and RMT technology. These technologies to make handle PET bottles can be used on containers in any application; including water, dairy, juice, fruit drinks, personal care, household chemical, automotive, agriculture, and other applications.
2. Why do I want a handle on my bottle?
For most of the last four decades, consumers have been asking for bottles that are clear, easy to use, recyclable, and affordable. As a rule of thumb, any full bottle that weighs over 1.5 lbs. is a candidate for a handle, and any full bottle weighing more than 3 lbs. should have a handle for safety and ergonomic reasons. The traditional injection stretch blown process for making bottles has proven incapable of making a bottle with an integrated handle. This failure resulted in a broad range of compromises designed to make PET bottles easy to handle and use. Brand holders have utilized compromises such as wrap-around neck collars, indented finger grips, snap-on bail carriers, etc. to satisfy the need for convenience and safety on PET containers. All of these compromises end up adding cost, slowing production, and leaving the consumer wanting a clear PET recycle code 1 bottle with the ergonomics of HDPE. PI Labs’ solution does not require any of these compromises, and delivers economics, ergonomics, and design aesthetics.
3. How is this bottle made?
The bottles you see on the website were made with PI Labs’ RMT process by a two-step, injection stretch blown method. The preform is made on a standard injection molding press. RMT technology is used on two-step blow molders and can be used with linear or rotary mold configurations. The injection and blow molding equipment is standard brand name equipment; you do not need to purchase customized equipment or use dedicated platforms to blow these bottles. PI Labs’ IMT technology is used for more exotic handle pocket geometries and orientation profiles.
4. How do you put a handle on the bottle?
The bottle is made with the handle already on it. There is no post manufacturing attachment of the handle, it comes out of the mold fully formed and ready to be filled and labeled. The handle is integrated into the bottle, not attached to it.
5. Is it recyclable?
Absolutely. This process uses standard bottle grade PET resin, recycle code 1. Production samples were made with DAK 9000 resin without any additives. The process is also amenable to bio resins and heat set resins.
6. Can I use one-step machines to make this bottle?
Yes. PI Labs’ technology is fully compatible with one-step blow molders.
7. Do I need custom equipment to make this bottle?
No, both the IMT and RMT technology use standard, brand name equipment to make handle PET bottles. Based on bottle design and geometry, there may be some non-permanent modification to tooling such as takeoff arms, preform loaders, etc. In general terms, you can use your existing manufacturing equipment in conjunction with PI Labs technology to make handle containers. You will, of course, need molds for preforms and blow molds that incorporate PI Labs technology.
8. Is this bottle bi-axially oriented?
Yes. The addition of the handle does not change the orientation of the bottle. If the existing version of the bottle was bi-axially oriented, then the handle version made using PI Labs technology will be bi-axially oriented.
9. Is this bottle cost competitive with HDPE bottles?
Yes. CPGs that were using HDPE bottles in order to offer a handle bottle for bulk or multi-serve applications now have an option to offer that bottle in crystal clear PET. The RMT technology, for high speed rotary blow molders, holds great promise as a low-cost, high volume, high-efficiency alternative to HDPE.
10. Is this bottle cost competitive with standard PET bottles?
Yes. Large handles may add net weight to the bottle, adversely affecting the cost, but bottle weights, even in early generations of PI Labs technology, will be very close to currently optimized PET bottles. Enormous opportunity exists to optimize bottle weights, production speeds, design attributes, and container performance characteristics as a component of a specific project. Given the robust structural profile of RMT bottles, it is reasonable to expect meaningful benefits from optimization of weights and speeds, even in early projects.
11. Can this technology make a handle PET bottle for hot fill applications?
Yes, heat set resins are fully compatible with PI Labs’ technology.
12. Can you use barrier and color additives?
Yes. Anything you can do structurally with a PET bottle can be done structurally in a PI Labs handle version of that bottle.
13. Is the technology proven?
Yes. The process is stable, repeatable, and ready for commercialization. QA testing of bottle designs produced in our lab suggests that the process consistency, wall thickness consistency, and top load carrying capacity are equivalent or better than that of standard PET bottles.
14. Will the handle break off if I drop the bottle?
No. Because the handle is integrated into the bottle from the outset, the only way to break off the handle is to tear it out of the sidewall of the bottle, an extremely difficult thing to do. Drop testing showed zero breaks in 50 drops from 5 feet on concrete.
15. Can I light-weight the bottle?
Almost certainly. There has been no attempt to optimize the weight, design, or speed of the production prototype shown in the pictures, though there appears ample opportunity to do so. Standard PET bottles enjoy the benefits of nearly 40 years of engineering optimization, and tremendous improvements have been made for containers of every size. PI Labs’ technology is new-to-the-world, and will enjoy similar continuous improvement as applications, equipment, and processes mature.
16. Is there a cycle time penalty associated with making this bottle?
There is no cycle time penalty on the blow-molding step. Cycle times on the injection molding stage have not been finalized, but are expected to be slightly longer than those for a round preform.
17. Have the process and bottles been QA tested?
Yes. Two different production runs have been tested in 3rd party labs and the results have been impressive. As an indicator of consistency, the round liquor bottle prototype you see in the picture was certified at plus or minus .0015” in wall thickness. That 93 gram bottle has been tested at 250+ lbs filled top load. 5 foot drop tests on concrete have failed to break a single handle or bottle. Every bottle design will have different performance attributes, but the lab results so far indicate that key physical attributes and general container performance is at or above that of current PET bottles.
18. Can I get a sample of this bottle?
PI Labs will not mail a sample to a prospective licensee. Bottle designs are developed in conjunction with individual customers and remain their property throughout.
19. How much design flexibility do I have with this handle technology?
As a general rule, anything you can design in a standard PET bottle can have a handle using PI Labs technology. Round, square, oblong, or rectangular bases can be made with any PET closure that can be used on a non-handle version. If you have a drawing or sketch of the desired design we can quickly determine if there are any constraints in using PI Labs technology to make your container with an integrated handle.
20. What neck finishes can I use?
You can use any style PET neck finish that is appropriate for your container. The incorporation of PI Labs’ technology does not restrict or limit the use of any caps or closures.
21. What do I do if I want to make or use this technology for my bottles?
PI Labs technical personnel are available for a consultation if you wish to discuss a project for IMT or RMT technology. Please use this link “Contact Us” to initiate a consultation or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your application. It will be helpful to know the volume, shape, and targeted weight of the container as well as the manufacturing platform you would like to use for its manufacture. If necessary, PI Labs will assist you in finding a blow molder qualified to manufacture your container or help you to equip your current supplier with the necessary technology and license to blow the bottle you desire.
22. How will PI Labs execute a project?
PI Labs will work with you to finalize a design that meets your objectives. We will also develop production samples from unit cavities and help oversee production of mold sets. Customers will pay a portion of the development costs and will have the option of purchasing a commercial production license for the required technology. As a component of our project, PI Labs personnel will help you prepare your blow molder, preform loader, and any other handling equipment you may need.
23. How soon can I get a PI Labs handle container to market?
From design approval, unit cavity production samples are being delivered inside of 12 weeks, with the bulk of that time consumed in unit cavity mold build and revisions. Upon your acceptance of unit cavity samples, multi-cavity molds can be ordered in 4 weeks or less. Mold build and acceptance time is not in PI Labs control and buyers should apply their own project planning assumptions. Because you do not need to order custom equipment, the bottom line answer to this question is denominated in weeks, not years.
24. If I want to make my own bottles, where can I get preforms?
PI Labs will supply a list of manufacturers who can make preforms for your designs.