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A new Australian firm is attracting North American interest for its thermoforming machine, which the firm claims can operate as much as nine times faster than conventional machines.

Brisbane, Australia-based Linear Form Pty. Ltd. began operating with the launch of its prototype thermoforming machine in June.

Zoltan Tuskes, managing director, said Linear Form is commercializing its first machine for an undisclosed Australian firm that makes polypropylene take-out food containers. He said Linear Form is negotiating supply and licensing agreements with several North American companies.

He said potential customers in Southeast Asia, Europe and South Africa have expressed interest.

Tuskes said the machine, which took him 10 years to design and build, produces 30,000 units an hour. It is best-suited to high-volume production. However, he said it can be custom made to meet specific needs. Tuskes would not reveal the cost of Linear Form's machine, but said it is cheaper than conventional ones.

He said that, apart from saving time, the machine also can save floor space and energy. The standard machine, which requires less than 20 kilowatts of power to operate, measures about 13 feet long by almost 4 feet wide and about 41/2 feet high.