By Chris Smith
Italian extrusion and conversion machinery maker Dolci Extrusion, which has been owned by Bielloni Converting since 2002, is about to commission an extrusion coating line in Belarus as part of a multi-million euro drinks carton production project.
The project, which is funded by the country's agriculture ministry, is intended to provide a local production source for cartons for aseptic packaging of juice and milk beverages. It is designed to have a production capacity of up to 500m cartons a year.
The production system is designed to use non-patented production technologies and carton designs to avoid the need to pay licensing fees.
According to Dolci Extrusion marketing manager Dr Matteo Spinola, the Belarus plant will be able to produce a milk carton at less than 15% of the cost of a Tetrapak equivalent (based on typical Tetrapak prices in the Italian market).
Dolci Extrusion's contribution to the project is a three-stage coating and printing line worth around ?15m. This 45m long line is able to make foil/plastic/paper laminates for juice packaging and plastic/paper laminates for dairy products. It includes flexo printing and die cutting units and can run at linear speeds up to 350 m/min.
The Belarus carton project is being managed by Italian company Agrotechnica. Aside from Dolci Extrusion, other key partners in the project include filling systems supplier IPI Aseptic Packaging.
Spinola said that mechanical and electrical assembly of the carton production line was completed at the end of July, with production tests due to begin in September.
The coating line is one of the largest production lines assembled by Dolci since it was acquired by Bielloni and took up most of the company's assembly facility at Biassono, close to Milan, during construction.
Bielloni Covnerting claims to be the only company in Italy able to supply a full line of film production and conversion equipment, including extrusion and coating lines, flexo printers, slitters and winders. It generated sales of around ?45m in 2009.