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10/13/2014 | 2 MINUTE READ

Swiss Thermoforming Machine Maker Sets Up U.S. Operations to Tap N.A. Market

Originally titled 'Swiss Thermoforming Machine Maker Sets Up U.S. Operations to Tap North American Market'
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A Swiss maker of complete thermoforming lines is taking another crack at the North American market, setting up sales, service and R&D in Wisconsin, with plans to exhibit at Pack Expo and NPE2015.

Swiss thermoforming machine manufacturer WM Wrapping Machinery SA, which boasts installations of more than 1000 lines in 60-plus countries, including over 100 complete inline installations, is hoping to change the fact that none of those units is in North America.

Speaking at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Conference (Schaumburg, Ill., Sept. 15-18), Kent Johansson discussed WM’s new strategy for cracking the North American market, including partnering with him to establish a technical center in Elkhorn, Wisc.

That center, which covers 40,000-ft2, will be home to what Johansson calls an “R&D team” using coextrusion production lines to partner with thermoformers, converters, and material suppliers on product development.

In addition, WM has teamed up with Italian thermoforming tool supplier Termostampi; a Milan-based company that specializes in the production of thermoforming tooling for food containers applications.

Luca Oliverio, area manager for WM, stressed a new strategy for breaking into the North American thermoforming sector. “We tried in the past to get inside this market but without consistent activity or a service organization,” Oliverio said, “and that approach was not successful. For these reasons, we decided to work in collaboration with Kent Johansson, utilizing his tech center, as well as with the moldmaker Termostampi, in order to create a team that can support the U.S. market in powerful way.”


New Market, New Machine
In a presentation, Johansson discussed the WM’s FC 600/780/1000 Speedmaster plus series of vacuum and pressure forming thermoformers, featuring steel rule cutting, noting that this line reflects WM’s broader philosophy of helping its customers lower product costs while increasing quality.

The FC Speedmaster series is fully automated and allows for quick mold changes for 2, 3, or 4-station setups, with clamping force up to 143 tons. Features include in-mold cutting, robotic stacking, labeling systems, marking, and the possibility for full integration with bagging and boxing machines.

The machines, which are 100% servodriven, can operate in cleanrooms, with Johansson noting that height is the only limitation on forming. At this time, the maximum height is 180 mm, but Johansson said WM is aware of the fact that U.S. customers want to go higher, and WM working to accommodate them. That willingness to accommodate specific market needs was a theme stressed by Johansson in his presentation.

“We're looking for partners,” Johansson said. “What we want to do is to talk with people, we want to hear from you about what you need. Tell me what you need in thermoforming machines.” With those partners, Johansson laid out the ultimate goal of besting a common enemy for the thermoforming industry: injection molding.

“We want to beat injection molding,” Johansson said. “You know that it goes in waves. We create something better than injection molding and they turn around and beat us, so now we have to beat them again. In order to beat them again, we need this group working together in research and development.”

Road Show
In addition to the SPE Thermoforming Conference, WM will participate in Pack Expo (Chicago, Nov. 2-5) and NPE2015 (March 23-27; Orlando). At NPE, it will run a model FT 900 punch and die thermoforming machine with a lower tilting platen. The platens measure 34.6 by 20.4 inches, and the machine has 82.5 tons of clamping force.

After NPE, WM said the display machine will be set up in Elkhorn Technical Center.