Thermoforming Systems LLC of Yakima, Wash., has invested in Sunwell Machines Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-based firm that makes thermoforming equipment, in-line extruders, steam-chest machines to make foam cups and equipment to make foam insulation board.
Sunwell makes the equipment in a factory in Taipei, Taiwan.
In January, Thermoforming Systems and Sunwell Machines formed a joint venture called Sunwell Global Ltd., said Dave Irwin, TSL vice president of sales and marketing. Irwin said TSL has had a long relationship with Sunwell, which has built components for TSL thermoforming machines. He declined to say how much TSL invested in Sunwell.
Both firms will continue to run their separate factories. For TSL, the deal gives it access to lower-priced extruders from Taiwan. Food packaging often is made on lines that extrude sheet to feed directly into a thermoforming machine. Irwin said TSL never has made its own extruders, but supplied third-party extruders when it assembled in-line systems.
One way TSL expects to gain from the arrangement is by offering lower-priced equipment to its customers in Central and South America, Irwin said. Processors there view U.S.-made packaging equipment as too expensive, and larger and higher-volume than they need, he said.
To reach a broader international audience, the joint venture will exhibit under the Sunwell Global name at K 2004, Oct. 20-27 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Sunwell will show a thermoformer called the M850HTPR, and a trim press. The machine has a maximum mold size of 34 inches by 40 inches, and a maximum draw depth of 6.4 inches. All axes on the former and trim press are alternate-current servo-driven. Heating is done by ceramic heaters.
In 2002, TSL bought the assets of International Thermoforming Systems in Yakima after ITS defaulted on loans. The company makes high-volume thermoforming machines for food packaging and other industries, including in-line systems or roll-fed forming.
Much of Sunwell's equipment is geared toward food packaging: extruders to make polypropylene/high-impact polystyrene sheet, thermoforming lines, trim presses, reclaim lines, foam cup machines and machines for expanded PS insulation board for construction.