Usually, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. But, now in the packaging world, SIG Combibloc—one of the world’s leading system suppliers of carton packaging and filling machines for beverages and food—debuts something that looks like a bottle, is convenient like a bottle, but protects like a carton pack.
Meet the combidome, a unique carton pack that SIG Combibloc maintains the best features of a bottle, guaranteeing differentiation for any beverage.
Thanks to its shape, stability and smooth pouring action, combidome is easy to handle, like a bottle, while at the same time offering all the proven and unrivalled benefits of a carton pack in terms of product protection, environmental and economic considerations: benefits that are equally important for manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
The entire carton pack—from the base to the dome that gives it its distinctive bottle shape and its name—is manufactured from a paperboard composite.
Markus Boehm, chief market officer at SIG Combibloc: “With combidome, we have created a carton pack that offers a new dimension in differentiation and convenience, and brings with it all the proven environmental benefits of the beverage carton.”
The slim, sturdy combidome carton sits very comfortably in the hand. The carton pack consists of two sections: a carton body, which is composed from the base to the dome of paperboard composite, and the screw cap domeTwist.
Inside the combidome filling machine, the two components are assembled into the finished carton pack, aseptically filled and securely sealed. The handy single-action domeTwist screw cap is positioned in the center of the package’s top, and is easy to open. At 28 mm, the inner diameter of the closure is particularly large, ensuring smooth pouring and enabling consumers to drink conveniently straight from the carton pack.
In an initial stage, combidome is designed as a packaging solution for non-carbonated soft drinks. The protective composite structure of the combidome carton is composed primarily of raw paperboard and polymers. At around 75 per cent, paperboard is the main ingredient of this composite structure, and gives the carton stability.
The inner polymer layers form a liquid barrier for the beverage; the outer layer keeps moisture out. Added to this is a thin aluminum layer, which protects the product from light, oxygen and external odors. This means nutrients and vitamins in the aseptically filled beverages are retained for a long time, with absolutely no preservatives–and as long as the carton pack is left unopened, there is no need for refrigeration either.
With their high content of unprocessed paperboard, manufactured from wood, a renewable raw material, carton packs have been proven to be among the most environmentally-friendly packaging solutions available for long-life beverages.
The same applies for combidome carton packs. This has been demonstrated in an independently verified, ISO-compliant life-cycle assessment conducted in 2012. For instance, considered over the entire life of the packaging, combidome carton packs generate 41 per cent less CO2 (carbon dioxide), use 51 per cent fewer fossil resources, and consume 33 per cent less primary energy than disposable PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) multilayer bottles; when compared to disposable PET monolayer bottles, these figures are 27 per cent for CO2, 42 per cent for fossil resources and 20 per cent for primary energy.
Compared to disposable glass bottles, combidome generates 75 per cent less CO2, uses 66 per cent fewer fossil resources, and consumes 60 per cent less primary energy.
To manufacture combidome, SIG Combibloc uses only raw paperboard made of pulp from trees harvested in FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified forests or other controlled sources which are checked against legality and also consider other key social and environmental aspects.
This means SIG Combibloc is also able to offer combidome carton packs with the FSC label. The label makes it easier for environmentally-conscious consumers to make the right purchasing decision at the sales shelf. The label provides verification that appropriate quantities of wood originating from FSC-certified, well-managed forests were used to manufacture the raw paperboard.
Just like all other carton packs from SIG Combibloc, combidome and its closure are fully recyclable, and are compatible with all national recycling and waste management systems. Combidome can be disposed of and recycled as a single unit.
Flexible and fit for the future
The combidome filling machine offers the design, volume and product flexibility that people have come to expect from SIG Combibloc filling machines. A change of packaging design can be implemented without interrupting the production process, and with no wastage at all. All you need to do is switch the carton sleeves in the magazine of the filling machine. And a volume change takes just a few minutes as well, offering manufacturers the option of positioning products in quantities that are tailored precisely to the intended target audience.
Customers receive the packaging material for combidome in the usual way as finished, flat carton sleeves. The sleeves are pre-printed with the customer’s ordered design and precisely marked with fold lines, which will later give the carton pack its characteristic combidome shape.
The carton blanks have already been sealed into sleeves.
Says Boehm: “All four display surfaces and the distinctive carton dome, are fully printable and thus available for use to enhance the carton design. This means combidome differs markedly from conventional beverage bottles, whose design possibilities are mostly limited to narrow labels or banderoles. The scope this offers makes it possible for manufacturers to communicate information and to attract consumers’ attention to the product – the design on the printed surface becomes the perfect complement to the unusual shape.”
The paperboard for the combidome carton packs is printed with up to six colors using the gravure printing system. This print technique guarantees extremely high-quality print images.
The combidome filling machine from SIG-Combibloc.
Just upside down: the filling process
The combidome filling machine, capable of filling 12,000 carton packs per hour, is based on the dependable, robust filling machine technology from SIG Combibloc, which proves its worth a billion times over, year after year. And with combidome, a carton pack has appeared on the market that really sets itself apart from all other beverage packaging solutions.
First, the domeTwist closures are transferred via an air conveyor into the four-track mandrel wheel area of the filling machine, and each one is placed on a separate mandrel. The combidome carton sleeves, each already sealed along the longitudinal seam, are transferred from the magazine to the mandrel wheel. One sleeve is placed on each mandrel. Next, the top edge of the carton sleeve is activated by hot air and then firmly welded to the base plate of the closure, which has also been pre-heated.
In the next step, the flaps of the dome are sealed to the carton, which is now open only at what will later form the base of the carton pack. The carton packs leave the mandrel wheel area upside down and move into the filling machine’s aseptic zone. There the beverages, which have already been sterilized in UHT (ultra-high temperature processing) units, are filled into the open, sterilized carton packs in four stages.
In this step, the filling nozzles are angled diagonally into the corners of the carton packs. This keeps foaming of the beverage to a minimum, creating a very low-oxygen filling process, which is beneficial for product quality. The carton base is then ultrasonically sealed.
The carton pack is now firmly sealed, and the product is securely protected. In the next step, the flaps are pre-heated by hot air and sealed to the base. The carton packs are then turned the right way up and ejected from the filling machine. Downstream, the aseptically filled combidome carton packs are given the secondary packaging requested by the customer.
Concluding, Boehm states: “Combidome is totally unlike anything that was ever seen on a supermarket shelf. It combines the best features of a carton pack with the best features of a bottle—offering benefits for manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.”
SIG Combibloc is part of the New Zealand-based Rank Group. For more information on combidome, click HERE.