Benjamin Manufacturing has succeeded as a family-run thermoforming business for almost 40 years. “BM” was founded in Paramount, Calif., in 1967 by Bill Benjamin, whose life-long passion has been to invent new building and household products. “I recognize needs, then create products to take care of them,” says Benjamin, who at 64 is still BM’s ideas man.
High-speed packaging systems dominated thermoforming news in Dusseldorf. A new shallow-draw, servo-driven system promises to make formed PP deli lids competitive with injection molded LLDPE. Other new machines use electric servo motors to speed forming of PS, PE, and PET packaging.
Liquid-crystal polymer extrusion resins cost over $10/lb, but when used sparingly in 2-5 micron layers, they can be cost-effective in barrier packaging films.
A rotary thermoformer that feeds from a roll, a six-station rotary for twin-sheet forming of difficult materials, and what may be the largest roll-fed machine on the market were among seven sophisticated new machinery introductions presented at the Society of Plastic Engineers’ 10th Annual Thermoforming Conference, held in September in Columbus, Ohio.
New capabilities for continuous roll-fed forming machinery were unveiled at NPE. They include forming heavier sheet, forming lids with a tamper-evident band, and producing in-mold decorating preforms with preprinted sheet. Tooling also advanced with a new and easier way to keep the forming inserts and trim-in-place punch level after the punch is sharpened.
Band-heater developments at the show are focused on high-temperature applications such as “thixomolding” and on prolonging heater life by minimizing leaks. Process cooling gets a lot more attention, however, as reflected in dozens of new chillers, both portable and central, designed for long life, minimal leaks, small footprint, and energy-efficient operation. There’s even a new generation of “micro” chillers for the smallest machines. New hot-water and oil systems are just as numerous and reflect similar performance concerns. Also look for new mold-water regulators and products that provide a stream of cooled air.
What changes are in store for thermoforming in this decade? We polled nine industry experts on new developments to watch out for in materials, machinery, tooling, and controls.
How would you spend a windfall of $10,000, $100,000, or $1 million added to your operating budget? Here’s what owners and managers of plastics plants said they would do with this dream cash.