IMA Dairy & Food USA (formerly OYSTAR USA) ( – whose parent company develops and manufactures complete packaging lines and individual machines for the dairy and food industries – has introduced a versatile thermoforming technology for its Erca EF Series of Form-Fill-Seal Machines that allows food manufacturers to create proprietary shapes for cups and bottles at nearly the same cost as standard molds. Known as Open Mold, the system can be used to shape unique-to-brand containers for a variety of food products, including yogurt, cream spreads, jellies and jams, juices, water, butter, margarine, sauces and fruit salads.

Traditionally, thermoformed containers must be straight-walled or tapered out to release them from the production mold. IMA’s Open Mold technology allows a proprietary shape to be formed prior to filling and sealing.

On EF FFS Series machines, manufacturers utilizing the Open Mold technology can produce up to 18,000 product-filled portion cups, or 16,800 product-filled bottles, per hour. In addition to nearly limitless packaging shaping possibilities, a wide variety of attractive labeling options are available, including wraparound and spotside.

IMA’s Open Mold technology also serves to reduce waste; it achieves this via a special Erca plastic stretching device that minimizes the bottom thickness in unused thermoforming areas, and by limiting wasted lid material during the die-cutting and pick-and-place processes. The result is a reduction in overall scrap waste material that can lead to significant cost savings relating to packaging materials, transportation and storage.