Molding press produces biodegradable cellulose-fiber packaging
The pakit100™ from Pakit, Inc. is a patented machine that uses cellulose fibers to produce molded board, resulting in an alternative to plastic packaging. Reports Pakit, molded board is strong, resilient, and flexible and can outperform plastic in many ways. It is also inexpensive to produce, fully biodegradable, and space-saving.
In development for more than a decade, the pakit100’s technology requires no chemical processes, instead utilizing heat, pressure, and vacuum technology to harness and mold the inherent strength of plant fibers. The machinery is constructed from high-grade, rust-resistant aluminum alloys, which are lightweight, allow for quick production speeds, and reduce energy costs.
A series of sintered tools vacuum-form wet mixtures of pulp (cellulose fiber) into plates, trays, cups, or any desired custom shape. The wet molded board releases up to 85% of its water as steam when compressed between the plates. The remaining moisture is used to lubricate machine parts before the moisture is removed with microwave ovens. The steam produced throughout drying is collected and recycled through a closed-loop system, reducing water usage.
Unlike traditional pulp and paper presses, which use wire mesh screens, the pakit100’s forming tools are constructed from sintered bronze tooling—high-quality metal mixtures formed under high heat that are durable and provide a more economical cost per unit when compared to conventional tools, according to Pakit. Tiny, precise bronze spheres, no larger than the heads of ballpoint pens, are arranged geometrically to create the surface of the forming tools. These spheres create a porous surface that allows excess water from the pulp to escape as hot steam when under pressure. This combination of pressure and heat fuses the fiber networks, making them uniformly strong and rigid—so strong, in fact, that molded board just 0.6-mm thick can withstand up to 20 kg of pressure without warping.
The bronze molding tools are made from bronze, are low-maintenance, and require very little cleaning due to high-pressure steam that continuously runs through them coupled with a water spray bar that cleans the individual tools during each production cycle.