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Sonoco expands thermoforming capability

By Joe Whitworth , 02-Nov-2012

Sonoco has completed an 18,000 square foot expansion at its US thermoforming facility in North Carolina, citing newer technology needs for customer growth.

The expansion, which began in Q4 2011, includes the start up of a multilayer, trim-in-place line and takes the plant size to about 165,000 square feet.

The new machine will enable the production of a variety of containers with the added capability of complex shapes for chilled foods, as well as thermally processed shelf stable food products.

In conjunction with a factory in Missouri, the firm has the capacity to produce up to 4 million units annually utilizing flat bed, rotary and Trim In Place technology. 

The new TIP line will be used to produce up to nine layer structures (polypropylene) for aseptic hot fill or retort food applications.  

December production

Rodger Fuller, vice president of Rigid Plastics, said the line is being installed now and will be ready for full production in December.

"This investment in large-scale multilayer polypropylene production complements our existing capabilities for processed food packaging, which include crystallized polyethylene terephthalate (CPET) and polypropylene frozen food trays; portion control cups; and blow molded bottles for retorted and aseptically processed beverages.

"Sonoco's packaging capabilities for processed food extend beyond plastics to include steam vent flexible bags, as well as retortable flexible pouches, closures and membranes. Our ability to produce barrier plastic trays rounds out our offering across the processed foods category."

Further expansion

The firm also announced an expansion of its Columbus, Ohio plant producing mainly personal care products.

The $15m 142,230-square-foot plant is currently operating 11 injection stretch blow-molding production lines, producing PET bottles for personal care products.

Sonoco said the site is expandable so they would use existing facilities for future expansion needs in personal care and food and beverage bottles for now.

“We have other facilities in Columbus that produce multi-layer PET bottles for single-serve beverages," said the company. "Due to customer growth we will be expanding production by about one-third in that facility in the second half of 2013,” said the company.

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