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Patented piston system for monobloc aluminum aerosol cans

Aerosol cans are part of modern life and indispensable for many applications: from industrial chemicals to premium fragrances. Single-chamber cans, where the payload, or liquid, comes into direct contact with the propellant, are the most commonly used variant. However, there is strong demand for dual-chamber cans, which separate the liquid from the propellant. The patented ZIMA piston system addresses this need, using a plastic piston in the aerosol can. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Site Management and Business Development provides marketing support for the patent.

Aerosol cans with plastic pistons

After years of development and testing, the piston system can now be used for a wide range of applications. At the center of this innovative system is a plastic piston, which separates the liquid from the propellant. First, the liquid is filled into the top part of the can and the spray valves seal the can. Next, the propellant – sometimes nothing more than air – is compressed into the bottom section through a base valve. The patented swallowtail shape of the ZIMA piston forms a permanent seal, guarantees stable pressure throughout the life of the product and ensures almost every last drop of the liquid can be dispensed. Because the piston creates such a tight seal, it is also ideal for spraying liquids with very low or very high viscosity.

The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Site Management and Business Development in Bad Krozingen, Germany, is developing a corporate strategy for manufacturing and marketing the patented ZIMA piston. The strategic focus is twofold: 1) Cost-efficient production of the various piston variants to certified standards, 2) Multi-stage marketing plans, down to individual sales channels. By referring to carefully matched key indicators and business reports, managers gain a precise, real-time overview of actuals versus targets. The benchmarks were based on the online version of the Steinbeis Balanced Scorecard developed at the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Site Management and Business Development. With each deviation, counteractive measures can be taken quickly.

Potentially, the piston system could be marketed through all companies in the aerosol can industry. The Steinbeis experts are also approaching end clients directly across a variety of sectors.

The new piston forms make it possible to adapt this system to all types of cans and can-based systems on the market. The injection molding process meets all prevailing technical requirements. Various locations in Baden-Württemberg and Hungary are being examined as potential production sites. The piston can be manufactured from all conventional injection moldable plastics and can be used to dispense a wide range of substances.

The ZIMA system is also ground-breaking in environmental terms as it avoids more harmful propellants. Air is normally used as the “propellant”, making it much easier to meet environmental requirements.

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