Thermoforming: New Packaging Formers
All-electric machines from WM Thermoforming of Switzerland.
At the recent Plast 2018 show in Milan, Italy, WM Thermoforming Machines of Switzerland demonstrated its new FC 780 E IM2 continuous thermoforming machine. This unit has vacuum and high-pressure forming with steel-rule cutting in the forming tool plus an additional in-line cutting press and in-line stacking. This unit is similar to the model exhibited recently at NPE2018 in Orlando, Fla., except that it is fully electric servo-powered—including the clamp frame (unlike the model at NPE). The additional servo axis is said to make the machine more flexible, as well as suitable for use in a clean room. For example, it allows height adjustment of the tooling of up to 370 mm on top and 250 mm on bottom—or vice versa—for a total adjustability of 620 mm. Electric servo drives recover energy from braking to feed back to the motor to power acceleration.
This model takes a max. mold size of 780 × 580 mm and has a max. draw depth of 130 mm. WM eliminates the usual vacuum pump in favor of multiple venturi stages, thereby greatly reducing maintenance. Further maintenance savings are achieved by eliminating linear transducers in favor of absolute encoders, which are said to be more precise and reliable.
This machine also uses new black ceramic heaters that are said to yield 10-12% energy savings with PET and 12-15% savings with PP. Remote service is available from Switzerland, whereby WM technicians can directly access the thermoformer control via the internet. WM machines are shipped on a single frame so that there is no reassembly needed at the customer’s plant and machines are said to be ready to run the first day.
Another recent development from WM is the Twist series, launched in 2016, which is a new version of the company’s FT series of continuous formers with in-mold trimming and a tilting lower platen. The Twist version eliminates mechanical cams in favor of servo motors with dual encoders that read the programmed and actual positions and make real-time adjustments so that the two match.
WM sources say the firm has been active in Mexico and its first U.S. machine installations have taken place in the last few months.
New cost-effective technologies are designed to make aluminum an attractive alternative to tool steels in a range of plastics molding processes. One method uses a plasma technique to convert the aluminum surface into a hard, dense, wear-resistant ceramic. Another approach uses electro-deposition to apply a surface coating with high hardness, corrosion resistance, and chemical resistance.
After several fits and starts over the last decade, thermoforming IML appears ready for prime time, thanks to improvements in output and labeling technology. For now, the action is mostly in European packaging.
SolVin has developed technology that allows production of what are said to be the world’s first PVC long- or continuous-fiber composites.