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Revolutionary new process makes thick walls perfectly clear

Eastman Chemical Company : 22 October, 2003  (New Product)
Against all practical moulding theory, Merle Norman Cosmetics found the successful blend of processing technique and innovative material for their new upscale Luxiva brand liquid foundation bottle.
If there was a case for injection blow moulding, this would not be it. Yet against all practical moulding theory, Merle Norman Cosmetics found the successful blend of processing technique and innovative material for their new upscale Luxiva brand liquid foundation bottle. Eastman Chemical Company’s Eastar copolyester AN004 delivered uncompromising clarity at wall thicknesses unheard of in a clear polymer.

The goal was to find a polymer that could simulate the distinctive clarity and rich substance of thick blown glass. “We prefer to use plastic so that we can create a more unique product,” said John Ramirez, Merle Norman in-house moulding manager. As it turned out, everything about the application was truly unique, beginning with the process.

This was not your typical injection blow moulding application—a clear, thick-walled bottle ranging in thickness from 0.50 to 0.150in. The blow moulding technique was equally as unique as the extreme wall thickness. Without using a preform, Merle Norman broke new ground by simultaneously injecting and blowing the bottle from a 0.200in-thick parison.

Aside from glass, what material could withstand these extremes and retain a crystal-like clarity, plus resist chemicals typically found in cosmetics? “There wasn’t too much out there that could give us the look and feel of glass,” said Ramirez. Working closely with local supplier, Albis, and Eastman, Merle Norman’s design and manufacturing team discovered Eastar copolyester AN004.

The material met FDA requirements and passed Merle Norman’s rigorous fitness-for-use tests that included submerging AN004 in a liquid foundation for 24 hours at 50°C. “I never knew copolyester had such good chemical resistance,” noted Ramirez. He added that the ability to achieve these thicknesses was a big step in minimizing product weight loss, something that, until Eastar copolyester AN004, was only possible with glass or thick-walled opaque and translucent plastic.

What they also discovered was that it was very easy to process. “I tried different copolymers, but AN004 was more forgiving and easier to process,” explained Ramirez. Eastman’s technical support team worked closely with Merle Norman throughout the entire project. Ramirez said, “We had Eastman’s support from day one from tooling to processing.”

Cosmetics packaging demands it all—processing ease, chemical resistance and lasting beauty. Merle Norman’s avant-garde approach has helped them achieve what once would have been impossible—a thick-walled, blow moulded container with the look and feel of glass. According to Eastman’s Lisa Shumate: “My first reaction to the new bottle was, I can’t believe it’s not glass! We’re pleased that Eastar copolyester AN004 is becoming a viable alternative to glass with the added safeguard of being virtually indestructible.”

The new Luxiva brand liquid foundation is available in Merle Norman Studios throughout North America.
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