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Energy Efficiency Enhanced for Thermoforming Machine in Packaging Applications
Source:    Author:    Date:07.Oct.2010
The topic of energy saving will be highlighted with the public début of the new SPEEDFORMER KMD 80, introduced by KIEFEL GmbH, the Freilassing-based, German machinery manufacturer serving various application areas including packaging and automotive. The company has developed new concept that allows the user of this model to reduce thermoformed component production costs by 10% - mainly contributed by the good energy recovery rate.

The SPEEDFORMER KMD 80, a thermoforming machine aimed for efficient mass production of packaging parts, has put into practice a high level of energy recovery and therewith low energy consumption, material depending operating speed of up to 65 cycles per minute, reduced material consumption through optimum utilization of the forming area and an innovative foil-conveying system.

The system uses a forming area measuring 600 x 800 mm. The innovative drives provides high clamping forces combined with highest precision. A chain-guide system keeps the feed rate exactly constant. The SPEEDFORMER offers smoothness at high operating speed in all its movement sequences.

To facilitate the intelligent control of the machine, a modern integrated control-system supported by Siemens’ Simotion is applied. The integrated system for positioning and a SPC placed directly in the drive offers a minimum cycle times with optimized functional results. The coordinated multi-axis movements are fast and precise.

As an option KIEFEL CAT (Computer Aided Teaching), a SW tool for self-optimizing initial machine start-up, is available. Intuitive navigation, carefully thought-out diagnostic features, simulation of initial start-up and extra software features designed to benefit the user, including simpler operation, smooth functioning of mechanical components and increased availability of the machine.

ILLIG, another specialist in thermoforming technologies, will present at K two roll-fed thermoforming lines. They can perform the thermoforming of plastic packs in any shape or size in large quantities.

The two roll-fed thermoforming lines will be demonstrated under production conditions with machines and tooling of current 3rd Generation RDK and RDM-K series. Comparative measurements conducted on ILLIG machines of previous generations revealed that today’s 3rd Generation thermoformers are considerably more efficient feature up to 50 % less energy consumption.

RDK automatic pressure forming machines for combined forming-punching operation are employed to produce products from hinged packs and menu trays through to closing lids. Machines of the RDM-K series are predominantly used for thermoforming of cups in any shape or size using multi-cavity tools. Compared to the previous standard, current systems achieve increases in cycle speeds at clearly double-digit rates featuring improved product quality and considerably lower energy consumption at the same time. This also applies to so-called sheet processing machines of the UA series. ILLIG will also demonstrate the efficiency of this series at K.

High-speed tray production

On the RDK 90 production line, which is the largest version of these automatic pressure forming machines, featuring up to 900 mm processable material width and 700 mm index length, trays are produced just like those sold millions of times as sales and keep-fresh packages for food articles, by processing APET on a 18-up tool at a speed of 55 cycles/min. Yogurt cups are produced on RDM 70K automatic forming machine, forming area 680 x 300 mm², using a 27-up tool and also APET material. Downstream equipment ensures reliable handling of these large numbers of products – 50 000 trays and almost 70 000 yogurt cups. For this purpose the RDK 90 line is equipped with double-handling system for product removal and stacking device. The stacking device of the RDM-K line is equipped with a new turning head system that can be swiveled by 180 degrees. Designed for a speed of up to 45 cycles/min, the demolded cups can cool down further for one cycle to ensure gentle stacking.

The use of high quality servo motor drives for all motion sequencing is the key for ILLIG’s thermoformers to achieve high cycle speeds and energy saving – Fast and precise, and thanks to high positioning and repetition accuracy maximum overlapping of working steps can be realized which saves process time.

The very high dynamics involved in forming pressure build-up and reduction is a further decisive element for the clearly improved productivity compared to the previous generation. In the RDM-K series 3rd Generation tools are the decisive factor. They operate with up to 75% less forming air volume per cavity and in this way increases in cycle speed of at least 30% and sometime even considerably higher are possible. In thermoforming with multi-cavity tools, also with respect to product quality, uniformity of all cup geometries is achieved which was not possible before. Based on this, weight reduction and thus material saving of up to 10% can even be realized, without having to accept impairment of dimensional accuracy or cup stability.

Servo motor drives used for all movements of the thermoformers not only contribute to an increase in productivity, they have an equally positive effect on the energy balance. The supply units employed are equipped with energy recovery systems. The available generative energy from the system, e.g. braking energy from one or several drives, is used for other drives or other loads, among others also for the infrared heater. Subject to machine type and drive this saving amounts up to approximately 20 % of the drive energy.

The energy efficiency topic, however, is much more complex for thermoforming since the machine drives require maximally approximately 10 to 15 % (subject to machine type) of the whole energy requirement in the thermoforming process. Among others, the following are also influential elements: Type and use of infrared heater elements for material heating, energy requirement of temperature control and cooling devices and – for automatic roll-fed machines working predominantly with pressure air a very important “energy factor” – energy requirement for generation of forming air.

Tilt technology for thermoforming machine

At K2010, on its own stand GABLER, the machinery supplier based in Lübeck, Germany, will be presenting the new M60 for the first time- a space-saving thermoforming machine which with a forming area of 500 x 320 mm rounds off the long-standing and proven M-line series of tilt technology machines.

Robust, fast and reliable, the new machine impresses with top quality, a high degree of flexibility and compatibility with existing tools. Based on the successful M98, the M60 represents a further development of the tilt technology machines whose original and subsequent development was decisively influenced by GABLER.


The M60
With a forming area of 800 x 550 mm the M98 enters new dimensions in the field of tilt technology. The stable design of the forming station with a portal construction allows the use of multi-row tools with up to 70 cavities, thus making output rates of over 120,000 PP drinking cups per hour a reality in the tilt machine sector.

In addition, the M92 with a newly designed drive, further variants are also available, such as the M72 with a capability of working with tools with up to 3 rows, the M92 X with a broadened forming area, the M92 L with a longer heater for maximum cycle rates, and in combination as the XL model.


KMS 600 is able to achieve high output in thermoformed cups
The new technology guarantees cost-effective production of bowls and lids made of polypropylene and APET. Thanks to the optimization of all movement sequences and the use of the latest servo drive and control technology, the Focus scores with previously unachieved output rates in combination with high flexibility.

MEAF Machines B.V., a Holland based machinery manufacturer, has launched to the market a completely new KMS600 thermoforming machine for high speed and accurate thermoforming.


This model combines tilting technology with a linear driven actuator, which makes the KMS600 a reliable, low-maintenance and durable asset. It is highly suitable for medium-sized to larger companies that require higher outputs (around 40,000 cups p/hour) and process efficiency.

With regards to the stacking process, MEAF has teamed up with a stacking builder specialist to design a system that provides high quality, efficiency and stable production during the whole process. MEAF is able to provide a complete solution for a complete plant (sheet extrusion and thermoforming), with possibilities to deliver complete in-line synchronization.
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