In my previous article we discussed why it is desirable to dispense a predetermined amount of ingredients/additive/supplement into a liquid, mostly water, in a container. In short to dispense an additive in powder or in a tablet form into water it can add flavouring, colouring, vitamins, minerals and the like into the water to create a palatable drink which can be consumed direct from the container. There are other applications, like pharmaceuticals, but the most marketed application is the enhancement of water.
This article starts with, probably the most well-known, the Activate dispensing cap. Then we shall have a look at the VizCap, and the Optima cap. The other caps as mentioned in my first article are described in the next articles.
The Activate dispensing cap
In 2009 Rising Beverage Co. in Los Angeles, the owner of Activate, launched a line of functional beverages that features a custom-designed cap to keep vitamins and other healthful ingredients fresh until consumption.
The vitamin drink consists of a 16 oz (474 ml) PET bottle filled with water and capped by a custom-made dispensing closure that stores 3 gr of dry ingredient. When the consumer twists the upper cavity of the cap clockwise, an internal blade within the closure turns and pierces a plastic membrane separating the powdered formula from the water. By cutting the sealed membrane, the ingredients are released into the beverage, which is then ready for consumption.
As I argued in my previous article the secret of a good-functioning dispensing cap is not just punching a hole, but how to remove the membrane in such a way to ensure that the powder is fully released into the water. Inefficient or incomplete mixing of the two substances is not desired as the concentration of the additive is critical to the result as marketed by the vitamin or energy drinks company.
As you can see in the photo compilation the membrane in the Activate cap is almost fully removed to give full and free access to the water in the bottle.
We will see that similar cutting systems are used by several other companies. The Activate bottle is made by MPI Packaging and distributed by Zuckerman Honickman. Although the name of the supplier of the dispensing cap is not unveiled, it is generally assumed that Portola in Napeville,Il, is manufacturing the Activate cap. By the way, Portola markets a similar cap under its own trade name Fushion cap, a 28 mm dispensing cap.
In contrast to the Activate cap and many others the VizCap isn’t exclusively linked to a drinks company and not even to a specific bottle. The VIZcap, designed by Formation Design, can be moulded and manufactured to fit any bottle size and can contain both large and small powder quantities. The company states that the cap can seamlessly run at existing bottling lines.
United States Patent 7854104 titled “Multi-chamber container and cap therefor”, published 21 Dec. 2010 and assigned to VIZ Enterprises, LLC (Atlanta, GA, US), uses the arguments I described in my previous article in relation to punching the membrane.
It states: “Many of these devices consist of a piercing tip or cutter that perforates or cuts a foil seal, blister pack or membrane releasing one component into a supplemental component, usually tablets, granules or powders into a liquid. Minor differences, consisting mostly of how the piercing tip is activated, differentiate these devices. Whether piercing tips or cutters are used to remove the seal between compartments, there is always the danger of having fragments of foil or other residue fall into the mixed components”.
The VizCap is described as an “invention [that] provides a container and cap that overcome many of the disadvantages of the prior art while providing a container that is easy to use and uses a minimum number of parts and that is simple to manufacture and assemble”.
The VizCap is simple. The VIZcap stores liquid and powder nutrients in an oxygen and moisture-restricted chamber situated in the bottle cap. Around the bottle cap with its transparent dome-shaped chamber, in which the fresh ingredients are stored, sits a tamper-evident tear-strip, which should be removed, after which the plunger (the dome-shaped cap) can be pushed downwards and the ingredients are released into the liquid.
Besides the typical characteristic of a fresher and more powerful drink, the VIZcap features the appealing advantage that the vitamins and nutrients are visible in the clear dome where they are housed.
VIZ Enterprises doesn’t manufacture the bottle cap itself, but licenses its VIZcap technology to third parties to get it on the worldwide beverage market.
The Optima cap
In fact the Optima cap is not a cap, but a system. It is not linked to any drinks company or even a manufacturer of closures. The Optima Packaging Group GmbH, with its headquarter in Schwäbisch Hall in Germany is a packaging machine manufacturer, having developed a machine to manufacture and assemble a functional cap, as they call it.
With its modular-designed CFL machine series, Optima offers a solution that integrate all functions for manufacturing functional closures within one continuous process. The CFL1, the start-up machine, achieves an output of up to 50 units/min. In high-output design, a machine from the CFL series produces a maximum of 1,000 units/min. The machines always incorporate multiple assembly functions for the various components. Dosing features for the ingredients in addition to control functions for the tightness of the functional closures, while the assembling accuracy is a particularly important aspect in this context.
The Optima CFL1 starts the manufacture of beverage closures at the sorting head. Then, the “chambers”, one of a total of four components, are placed into a conveyor plate. An Optima auger filler fills these chambers with the required quantity of ingredients. This step is followed by foil-sealing. Immediately followed by the joining of the filled chamber and the fed-in sleeve, after which it is laser-labelled. A cap – placed in a subsequent step to protect the cap against contamination – completes the system.
Accompanying the 100% tightness control, all processing steps are monitored. Therefore, via an active pick-and-place discharge, only those closures that are properly processed reach the market.
As said Optima is manufacturing the machine, which assembles the Functional Closure components and then film-seals the closure. Maximum output is said to be 1,500 units/min. The individual components of the functional cap are made by a Swiss plastics company.
I haven’t the information available whether the supply of the cap components is an exclusivity of the (unnamed) Swiss company. Interested parties have to contact Optima to get a direct answer.
I said last time that I should describe 5 caps in this article. But it is getting too long and I bring the remaining caps to the next article. Still 11 to go.