The buzz in thermoforming at K'98 was actually more like a hum--the sound of electric servo motors driving every motion of new or redesigned roll-fed machines. Greater speed and accuracy are said to result from the shift away from pneumatics and hydraulics, an evolution that was evident at the show in many different types of plastics machinery. A line of Dutch machines now sold in the U.S. also comes with servo drive.

Servo's the thing

One of several continuous in-line machines that has been upgraded with the addition of servo drives is the KMD 52 B roll-fed pressure former from Paul Kiefel GmbH, (represented here by Kiefel Technologies). It now uses servo drives to achieve faster and more accurate platen movement. Transport and punching and stacking stations also have servo drives. New plug-in quartz heaters minimize wiring difficulties. Also new is an integrally cooled chain rail designed to resist wear from the lateral forces encountered when processing OPS and PP.

Servo-driven platens and sheet transport are new on Adolf Illig's redesigned RV 53b pressure former. In addition, the machine now has 50% higher press tonnage and 20% longer stroke for the mold platen and plug-assist. Sheet indexing is now said to be more accurate (± 0.2 mm), and the punching die is more rigid for longer life and improved product quality. The unit processes sheet up to 20 in. wide.

AC electric motors replace hydraulic or DC drives for the platen movement, plug-assist, sheet transport, and cooling rolls on the upgraded INF series of in-line, trim-in-place forming systems from Bellaform Extrusionstechnik (represented by German Plastics). These machines make PP and PS cups, trays, and flower pots. A PC controller also replaces the former PLC on the INF series.

There's also a new drive system on the BMS 700 trim-in-place former from Meaf Machines of Holland (now available here through Sius American). In place of the former cam-actuated platen and plug assist, Meaf has substituted a servo-driven toggle with air assist. Improved accuracy and greater punching power (enough for PET) are said to result. The system now has a 150-mm depth of draw. The machine reportedly runs PP at 20-25 cycles/min and PS at more than 25 cycles/min. The machine includes an unwind, preheater, and web-skeleton winder.

Get rid of skeletons

Granulate thermoform webs at 1100 lb/hr with the new model T-36 from Rapid Granulator. Designed specifically for this application, the unit has a 36-in.-wide cutting rotor and 20-hp motor.

Cutter keeps its cool

New in trim-in-place tools for cups and containers from Marbach Tool & Equipment are said to improve product quality, thanks to better cooling of the cutting parts. Clamp rings (for better flange quality) and a guiding system help out, too. Also, use of larger plug assists is said to improve material distribution.

More rollers roll more rims

A cup rim roller that uses four rollers instead of three is new from Bellaform Extrusionstechnik. The added roller reportedly permits stable rim rolling over a wider range of cup ODs from 65 to 105 mm. Two rollers are fixed and two are adjustable.