DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 8, 2:20 p.m. EST) — A joint venture formed in India by U.S. thermoforming machinery supplier Irwin Research & Development Inc. and Indian supplier Wonderpack Industries (Private) Ltd. is to begin producing equipment in June.
The enterprise, Irwin India (Private) Ltd. in Nashik, plans to build lower-volume, lower-cost thermoforming machines aimed chiefly at the Asian and Eastern European plastics processing market, according to Nashik-based Wonderpack export manager Sameer Shetty.
The venture is starting with 35 workers. The new plant is near Wonderpack's facility, which builds a range of thermoforming, extrusion and packaging machinery. Irwin India expects to build about a dozen machines in its first year of operation, Shetty said in an interview at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
At the K fair, Wonderpack's Uniforma in-line polypropylene sheet extrusion and thermoforming line attracted attention. The company clinched deals to sell the booth machine to Extra-Plast John G. Roupas SA of Athens, Greece, Shetty said. The company also inked deals to sell equipment to customers in Egypt, Israel, Iran and Africa, he said.
Prior to the show, the company had sold six of the lines in India and three to African customers, including two to a company in Kenya, Shetty said.
“There is certainly a place for the Uniforma in Europe. These lines can be used for dedicated products. People here would like to have bigger lines, but it can be dedicated and you can have multiple lines like this,” Shetty said.
The Uniforma at the show included a sheet extruder with a 60-millimeter-diameter screw capable of processing up to 154 pounds of PP per hour through a 600mm T-die. The line employs a synchronized system to harmonize the continuous output of the extruder with the all-servo thermoformer's cycle.
The thermoforming machine produced PP cups using a 10-cavity mold running at 14 cycles per minute. The equipment can operate at 28 cycles per minute, according to Wonderpack.
In preparation for the new Irwin joint venture plant, Wonderpack is investing in up to four new computer numerically controlled milling machines.
Thermoforming lines to be manufactured by the plant will be high-speed machines employing Irwin technology, Shetty said. Commenting on the venture, Irwin's sales and marketing director Roger Underwood said it will fill a gap at the low end of the range for Irwin, a producer of high-end, high-volume thermoforming machinery.
“We are selling the majority of our high-end-market machines in the United States as well as in Europe. Once we get into Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, we become less competitive.
“That's where the Wonderpack machines will give us a foot up. For us, Asia has been very slow for our type of equipment over the last four to five years. It's a rare occurrence that a [polystyrene] foam maker will want to make lunch boxes or … bowls in high volumes, which is our forte.
“I think the [Indian] machines will sell in Eastern Europe quite well, for example, in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Russia,” Underwood said.
He added that the new equipment will allow Irwin to satisfy a customer that prefers to pay $400,000 for a machine capable of producing, for example, 40,000 cups per hour, instead of $600,000 for one able to turn out 85,000 cups per hour.
Irwin is based in Yakima, Wash.