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R&D Effort to Boost Efficiency in Thermoformed Packaging

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Key is tiny, individually controlled ceramic heaters that allows optimal regulation of film thickness.

German firms Kiefel GmbH and Wattron GmbH have joined forces on a long-term R&D project aimed at increasing quality and efficiency in thermoforming, especially for thin-gauge packaging. Kiefel (U.S. office in Portsmouth, N.H.) furnishes thermoforming machines for packaging, medical, and other markets. It also owns toolmakers SWA in the Czech Republic, Bosch Sprang in The Netherlands, and Mold & Matic Solutions in Austria.

The key to this R&D effort is ceramic heating technology developed by Wattron. Called cera2heat, the technology relies on square heating elements smaller than a penny that can be individually controlled and regulated to specific temperatures. This allows targeted, uneven heating of the film, enabling it to be optimally adapted to the desired shape to create more uniform wall thicknesses. This enables the processor to use much thinner films, significantly reducing energy consumption.

Wattron is a new spinoff of the Institute of Natural Materials Technology of the Technical University of Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging Dresden.