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Shaking all over

Eastman Chemical Company : 11 August, 2004  (Application Story)
The Swiss Spice salt and pepper shaker, made from Eastman Specialty Plastics
Keeping condiments free from wet and dirt during an excursion – be it for a family picnic or a mountaineering expedition – is no longer an issue, thanks to the development of a compact, near-unbreakable salt and pepper shaker by a Swiss innovations consultancy, Think Industry Ltd.

The container, known as ‘Swiss Spice’, features a lightweight, superior-strength Eastar Copolyester resin, made by Eastman Specialty Plastics, that allows extremely high levels of transparency. Produced exclusively in Switzerland, the salt and pepper shaker has been developed according to the same principles as the country’s famous army knife: to be usable where its contemporaries fail to perform.

The packaging needed to combine high performance with good looks. Peter Meyer, CEO of the Think Industry Ltd, chose Eastar Copolyester resin following a recommendation by KATZ (Kunstoffe Ausbildungs- und Technologiezentrum, the Swiss Institute for plastics, based in Aarau, CH). It found that Eastar Copolyester resin offered the right characteristics for the “Swiss Spice” application and the way it is manufactured.

The material is the perfect choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is very resistant to chemicals. And secondly, Eastar Copolyester is very forgiving in all kinds of fabrication methods which would not be possible with other comparable plastics. In this particular application the material needed to be drilled to accommodate the hinges. Eastar Copolyester also offers exceptional clarity. Although the container walls are over 3mm thick, light transmission rates are around 91% - a much higher reading than competing plastics. In addition the material has FDA food approval.

Eastar Copolyester is extremely sturdy. Tests showed that the container remained in perfect condition, even when dropped from a height of 500 metres into a grass field. Its welded cover, made from the same material, makes the shaker both water and splash-proof. The cover will only open after applied pressure of 500 times gravity, thus preventing spontaneous opening.

Comments Peter Meyer: “Swiss Spice keeps the salt secure and dry in just about any challenging outdoor situation. It can be dropped on stony ground or in a river, or carried in luggage without the contents spilling. At the same time its high transparency conveys the purity and cleanliness that one naturally associates with Switzerland. Certainly, Eastman’s Eastar Copolyester resin answered our demands perfectly.”

Mr. Meyer adds: “It’s incredible no one has thought of this before. Eastar® Copolyester resin from Eastman has been an essential part of our product’s success, and enabled this brilliant idea to come to life – for the benefit of outdoor enthusiasts the world over!”

Eastman Specialty Plastics and their Swiss distributor, Dolder AG, of Bern, worked closely together, advising Think Industry Ltd on the material ideally suited to meet the requirements of the application. Both companies achieved a three-month concept-to-completion turnaround, enabling the product to appear on the market in record time.

R. Gysi AG of Wolfwil (CH) converted the Eastman material into the container by injection moulding. The company’s converting equipment includes an intelligent cooling system to keep the temperature even and prevent hot spots developing in the mould, an occurrence that could lead to the material sticking to the metal.
The material forms a mould at just 14°C. The Swiss Spice logo is tampon printed by TST SA, of Corgemont (CH), the company famous for printing the serial numbers on the Swatch.

Comprising two chambers, Swiss Spice holds 20g of salt and 6g of pepper. Its contents should last long enough to be added to two sets of meals for a week. The container is refillable and is designed to be the practical option for many outdoor situations, from barbeques and picnics to the more adventurous and daring expeditions undertaken by mountain walkers, rock climbers or canoeists.
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