Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these news items from NPE 2003, held June 23-27 in Chicago.
TSL exhibits frame technology
Thermoforming Systems LLC of Yakima, Wash., exhibited its Low Flex 5.0 frame technology at NPE 2003 and intends to incorporate the concept throughout its product line.
An undisclosed processor acquired the first Low Flex unit in early 2003. A package including thermoforming machine, heat tunnel and trim press has a list price of $750,000-$800,000.
With a forming pressure of more than 100 pounds per square inch, the system can operate a 52-square-inch mold and produce a plastic cup or container up to 9 inches deep, said TSL President Thomas Feichter.
A Low Flex system can run more than 6,000 pounds per hour using APET and lower volumes of polypropylene or polystyrene.
In addition to the patent-pending Low Flex technology, TSL uses production-proved 3rd Motion as a way to mechanically stretch material in the thermoforming process.
TSL booked 15 machines and completed nine deliveries during its first 12 months of operation. Quotation activity is up more than 50 percent from a year earlier, Feichter said.
The company purchased the assets of bankrupt International Thermoforming Systems, retained ITS' factory and employees and started operations June 28, 2002.
TSL employs 30 in developing engineering specifications and assembling units with customized components and off-the-shelf motors and drives.
Maac reports orders for first time at show
Maac Machinery Corp. received solid commitments for seven sheet-fed thermoforming machines at the show.
“We never had an order in five previous NPEs” dating back to 1988, said Paul Alongi, chief executive officer.
Alongi characterized the economy as sporadic, with Maac having strong sales from September-March and weaker performance from March 15-May 15.
In 1997, Maac began working on operating software. As a result, Maac in September achieved a goal of delivering orders in eight weeks vs. 20 weeks several years earlier.
Keeping down time-to-build costs has allowed Maac to maintain prices during the past three years, Alongi said. Maac employs 55 and offers four models, 36 sizes and 86 optional features.
At NPE, Maac displayed its top-of-the-line Series 2000 adjustable clamp frame, which permits one person to make a frame change in five to 30 minutes without tools. Sales of the clamp frames, which cost $2,500, have increased 400 percent during 2003's first six months vs. last year's comparable period, Alongi said.
Maac was founded in 1982 and moved in early 2000 into a custom-built, 48,000-square-foot facility on 4.2 acres in Carol Stream, Ill.
OMV to make F57 line in U.S.
OMV-USA Inc. is acquiring an Elkhorn, Wis., building to begin domestic manufacturing of the F57 in-line extrusion/thermoforming system now made only in Italy. Production should begin in 2004, the firm said.
“We hope to assemble and manufacture the F57 within a year and open a [mold-making] shop in the U.S. by late 2006,” said Kent Johansson, OMV-USA president. The firm plans to establish a technical center in September and begin limited assembly and equipment testing in early 2004.
OMV-USA employs 10 in Genoa City, Wis., providing sales, service, spare parts and engineering assistance for equipment from Parona, Italy-based OMV/ISAP Group's machine division.
OMV will retain all employees in the 16-mile move, outsource component fabrication locally and employ 35 including machinists in about three years, Johansson said. The 40,000-square-foot building is expandable on a six-acre site. The real estate acquisition is pending.
The F57 represents the sixth generation of a cup-and-container packaging line initially sold in 1986. Johansson's 1997 customer survey identified an interest of big converters for a larger platen size, and development began. The F57 measures 50 inches wide for in-mold trim by 38 inches vs. the previous generation's 33 inches by 25 inches. The new size opened OMV's market to users of polypropylene as well as polystyrene.
A $3.8 million F57 turnkey system with in-mold trimming can make 75,000 rim-rolled 32-ounce car cups per hour. In the week before NPE, Johansson said he sold five F57s to two customers. Six more sales are pending.
In early 2003, sister company ISAP SpA began operating the first three F57s in Europe making cups, plates and trays.
At NPE, Johansson touted new thermoformed tamper-evident lids as a replacement for food packaging shrink bands. Laser technology is used in the production.
Joint venture shipping machine to Thailand
Joint development firm Irwin (India) Pvt. Ltd. has sold its first Model 3060 thermoforming and trim-in-place machine to a customer in Thailand for making water cups. The unit was operational at NPE and is to be shipped in August.
Irwin Research and Development Inc. of Yakima, Wash., and Wonderpack Industries (P) Ltd. of Nasik, India, formed the venture in 2000 to develop a machine for making polypropylene cups and containers in the Asian and Middle East markets. Wonderpack provided the initial concept, and Irwin in Washington added Siemens servo-motor-driven mechanical motion technology and Ballerina PC-based controls.
Another Model 3060 is undergoing tests in Nasik and serves as a starting point for manufacturing the machine in India, possibly by early 2004, said Amit Shah, Irwin India managing director. Both of the initial machines were made in Yakima.
Interest at NPE “confirmed we have a sellable product” that domestic manufacturers might use as a laboratory machine, said Roger Underwood, Irwin Research sales and marketing director.
Irwin Research showed the labor-saving SP 22-7 Stack Packer horizontal packaging machine in operation with the Model 50NT vertical trim press, which can operate at speeds up to 200 cycles per minute. The downstream Stack Packer can process 40 packages per minute. Field testing should be completed in September.
Illig machine demonstrates versatility
Illig LP of Marietta, Ga., marketed an RDK 80 automatic pressure forming machine demonstrating material processing versatility.
The machine manufactured delicatessen cups of polypropylene and, separately, environment-friendly cornstarch from Cargill Dow venture NatureWorks.
As displayed, the $550,000 system included roll stand, preheater, trim-in-place and stacking stations and grinder, said Stefan Deuschle, sales manager with parent firm Adolf Illig Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG in Heilbronn, Germany.
The machine can reach 35 cycles per minute with forming and punching tools equipped with steel rule dies. Tools can be changed in about 30 minutes.
The RDK 80 is entering the domestic market after achieving wide use in other markets including Europe, Asia and South America, according to Deuschle.
GN Plastics shows dual-mold machine
GN Plastics Co. Ltd. of Chester, Nova Scotia, demonstrated a dual-mold GN1914DM thermoforming machine processing polypropylene sheet.
The high-speed, high-volume machine includes in-mold cutting, a forming area of 19 inches by 14 inches, a draw depth up to a 6 inches and an integral parts-handling system.
Including the preheating oven and plug assist, the tilt-mold thermoformer costs $227,000, said technical sales representative Glenn Durnford.