LRM Industries goes commercial with its sheetless thermoforming
ROCKLEDGE, FLA. LRM Industries LLC made its name in recent years with a process it calls Thermo-Plastic Flow molding, or TPF. The Rockledge-based joint venture of Nova Chemicals Corp. and Envirokare Tech Inc. has won several awards for long-fiber thermoplastic parts molded around metal cores, used to make structures for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
LRM's latest trademarked process, for Sheetless Thermoforming Technology (SFT), commercializes a line developed in 2007.
The line produces large thermoformed parts on three to five trolleys that move around a circular track, coating molten plastic directly into thermoforming molds. This eliminates the need for preformed sheet, Senior Vice President Jim Callough said in a Nov. 3 telephone interview.
``The trolleys have all the elements necessary for molding onboard water and vacuums, et cetera,'' he said. The line is custom fabricated, except for the extruder and mixer, which are sourced outside LRM, he said. ``How we handle the sheet, that's the magic that's where we hold the patent,'' Callough said.
Coating thermoforming molds directly allows the production of deep-draw products with minimum thinning and a wide range of polymers can be used, he said. LRM's primary product using the new technology is storm-water chambers.
SFT parts are limited to 18 feet in length, he said. With three trolleys, the line can form 400-450 parts per day; with five trolleys, that goes up to 650 parts per day, he said.
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