A total of 889 people attended the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference, held Sept. 16-19 in Cincinnati. The trade show drew about 80 exhibitors. Senior staff reporter Bill Bregar wrote the following new product briefs from Cincinnati.
KMT AB introduces slate of new products
Last December, Sweden's KMT AB bought Robotic Production Technologies Inc., a maker of six-axis robotic trimmers and routers for plastic parts, and the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based operation will gain better access to global business as a result, an official said at the Thermoforming Conference.
``It's huge for us to be a global company now, because we have a lot of global customers already,'' said Roberta Zald, director of technology and marketing for the Michigan company, now called KMT Robotic Solutions Inc.
KMT also bought H20 Jet Inc., which makes components for high-pressure water-jet cutting systems and replacement pumps in Olympia, Wash.
Stockholm-based KMT makes water-jet cutting machines, robots and grinding equipment. Zald said KMT is focused on water-jet cutting for automotive. The purchase of RPT diversifies KMT into other markets.
Kevin McManus, who was RPT's president, now is president of KMT's robotics group, which covers operations in Auburn Hills, Shanghai and Ronneby, Sweden.
KMT announced that Ray Products Inc., a heavy-gauge former in Ontario, Calif., bought one of its six-axis RoboTrim RT-500 router and trimmers. Ray Products has been using five-axis, computer numerically controlled routers for the past 15 years to trim covers and enclosures for medical equipment, doors for cabinets and very large covers for storage units. The CNC routers required a second step to accommodate trimming on both sides of the part - something that is done in one process with a router tied to an articulating-arm, six-axis robot, KMT said.
Ray Products also determined that its old routers lacked the accuracy and flexibility to trim large objects with lengthy cycle times, according to KMT. The RT-500 can trim a part in less than half the time of the CNC router, the company said.
KMT Robotic Solutions released a flurry of news, with new sizes of routers and new configurations:
* The RoboTrim RT-1200 is geared toward big parts from the thermoforming and composites sectors. It can handle parts measuring up to 9 feet long and 2 feet wide. A 12-foot rotating table keeps operators on one side, away from the cutting area, so they can load and unload parts while the robot is trimming on the inside.
* Another new router for thermoforming, the RoboTrim RT-1900, mounts an inverted KMT AccuTrim R-110 six-axis robot on an overhead rail above a rotating servo table. Again, the table has two positions for loading and unloading. The RT-1900 can handle parts as large as 13 feet long and 5 feet wide.
* The next-generation RoboTrim RT-1002 router sports a modular design that fits into smaller shipping containers, reducing transportation costs, especially to overseas plants in China and other countries.
* A new, much smaller, portable trimming system called RoboKnife RT-200. The RT-200 is on wheels so it can be moved around a plant and positioned close to thermoforming, blow molding or rotational molding machines. The RT-200 features a servo-controlled, rotating fixture table and a patented, compliant knife that compensates for part shrinkage and expansion. The RT-200 also can be equipped with an ultrasonic knife or a small routing spindle.
* CamPro, new personal-computer-based software that allows computer-aided-manufacturing data about trimming and milling paths to be converted directly into programs to run six-axis robots. CamPro makes it possible to mill solid blocks of foam robotically.
``The CamPro solution eases the transition from CNC cutting to robotic trimming,'' said Chuck Abrams, KMT's technical manager. ``Personnel trained on Mastercam, Surfcam, Delcam and other common CAD/CAM tools can automatically use CamPro.''
* Branson Ultrasonics Corp. of Danbury, Conn., will work with KMT to create what they said are reasonably priced, automated, ultrasonic knife-trimming systems that can move easily through soft parts that are difficult to trim, such as foam, vinyl and soft rubber. The two firms signed a joint agreement covering marketing and product development. The companies will combine a six-axis robot with Branson ultrasonic components.
Form Safe prevents sheet from burning
Thermoforming companies know that sheet sag can be a drag, if the sheet touches the heating elements and starts to smoke or even catch fire. A new product, Form Safe from Advanced Ventures in Technology Inc. of Gladwin, Mich., can solve the problem.
Activated by sensors, Form Safe can deploy a barrier in less than a second, as it shoots across the surface of the oven.
AVT has patented the barrier, which is stored on a roll on one side of the oven. It can be used with any type of thermoforming machine, including rotary or in-line, and on any size of oven, gas or electric. Predetermined conditions that trigger the barrier could be an emergency stop command, a power outage, mechanical failure, operator error or another situation that causes the work piece to sag.
Pneumatic power is supplied instantly from a reservoir to a motor that drives a spindle, and the barrier rockets into position.
AVT officials said the product beats fire extinguishers or other chemicals that need to be cleaned off the oven after a meltdown. Production can continue almost immediately, since the sheet does not come into contact with the oven.
Quick-change system signals status of lock
Tooling Technology LLC of Fort Laramie, Ohio, has introduced a new version of its Segen quick-change product for thermoforming molds, and this one has a red/green light display to let operators know whether the mechanism is locked or unlocked.
An internal sensor triggers the visual display.
In 1999, Tooling Technology bought Edward D. Segen & Co. LLC, a maker of quick-change devices that use a steel cylinder lock and a matching knob. Shop air pressure is used to actuate the cylinder locks, and it stays positively, mechanically locked until pneumatic pressure is applied to release it.
Jeff Barker, sales director of Segen products, said the company first made quick-change products for in-line thermoforming. Now Tooling Technology is developing a line for molds used in cut-sheet forming, he said.
Relocated Nam puts extra space to use
Nam Polymers Inc., a compounder, sheet importer and recycler, has tripled its space by moving into a 60,000-square-foot building in Toronto, said Ali Lodhi, vice president.
The firm relocated from its old 19,500-square-foot plant in Mississauga, Ontario, beginning last year. Full production at the new site began this June, according to Lodhi.
Nam bought the new building.
The company needs the extra space as it has been doing more custom compounding - mostly resin for sheet used in thermoformed trays for the horticultural market, according to Lodhi. He said Nam used to do mainly toll compounding, but is moving into custom work.