German thermoforming machinery producer Kiefel GmbH is supplying Qingdao, China-based Haier Group with 20 machines this year alone to make refrigerator parts.
The equipment is in addition to 15 machines Kiefel has already supplied to the Chinese appliance manufacturer.
Haier has seen a large increase in demand for refrigerators in its domestic China market, the result of government measures to encourage the sale of new appliances to save energy and reduce food waste, according to Kiefel's joint managing director, Thomas Hallertz.
Although thermoformed parts are traditionally used for refrigerator inner containers and door liners, Haier has introduced the first models that use a thermoformed sheet for the exterior housing of some of its models, Hallertz said during a briefing at Kiefel's Freilassing headquarters.
Senoplast Klepsch & Co. GmbH of Piesendorf, Austria, supplied the sheet to Haier for that application, Hallertz said.
In 2009, BASF SE of Ludwigshafen, Germany, announced that it had started supplying a new grade of its Terluran ABS grade with significantly increased chemical resistance to Haier in China. This had involved cooperation with masterbatch and dosing equipment suppliers, and a new business model for the refrigerator industry, one that cut steps in Haier's value chain as well as costs, BASF said at the time.
Haier claims to be the world's largest white and brown domestic electrical appliance maker and the largest producer of refrigerators.
Haier has used Kiefel machines in China for a number of years. Its Camden, S.C., plant also has used thermoforming machines from Italy's Comi srl.
In Europe, Haier refrigerators won product design awards in 2007 and 2010 from Red Dot and iFDesign, respectively.