In-line sheet extrusion, tied directly to a thermoforming machine, gives many advantages for packaging, said Frank Nissel, a sheet extrusion machinery veteran, during SPE's Thermoforming Conference in Milwaukee.
Most people run in-line where they can, said Nissel, chairman of Welex Inc. a sheet extruder maker based in Blue Bell, Pa.
In-line yields big savings on energy, since you don't have to reheat the sheet before forming, Nissel said. The technology saves labor costs. In-line also helps do just-in-time manufacturing, because you know right away if the sheet has problems, he said.
Nissel advocated the use of in-line gauging systems, which automatically measure sheet line output and can feed the information back, closed-loop, to control line speed, which controls sheet thickness. A gauging system can pay for itself in 11/2 years, he said.
Nissel touched on a wide range of topics about the economics of sheet extrusion. In general, he said, bigger-output lines are more cost effective to operate than smaller ones.
Nissel also said that Americans should be more aware of energy used in their factories.
Europeans are more energy conscious than in the U.S.A. They want us to quote energy consumption for Welex sheet lines, he said. Your energy requirement is actually a major component of your cost.
Nissel chided some sheet line suppliers, which he said make impossible claims for energy efficiency. It's perpetual motion, he said.