Orlando, Fla. — Increasing production and use of thermoformed packaging are leading Rapid Granulator AB to enhance its approach to serving that market.
The Bredaryd, Sweden-based company, which has U.S. operations in suburban Pittsburgh, is out with a new granulator specifically designed to handle skeletal waste from thermoforming lines.
A company the size of Rapid Granulator certainly has served the thermoforming industry in the past with its existing array of equipment, but the ThermoPro Series is the first offering specifically designed for production waste from that segment.
CEO Bengt Rimark said the ThermoPro is designed to allow thermoforming companies to process and reintroduce skeletal waste directly back into the new production stream without discarding material.
With skeletal waste accounting for up to 30-40 percent of material use, depending on what shape is being thermoformed, Rimark said it is critical that thermoforming companies recapture that material for reuse.
"The scrap material will have the same value as the virgin raw material you are buying. You are feeding it back again without handling, without contamination. Just feed good quality regrind back into the process," Rimark said.
The ThermoPro line was a year in development, and was unveiled at NPE2018 in Orlando. Rapid Granulator sees the packaging market as a steady, reliable area that typically expands regardless of the economic conditions.
"That is a very stable segment that is growing every year. Not huge; like 3-4 percent every year," he said.
The company showed off its ThermoPro 400-90 model at NPE, which can handle widths of up to 35 inches. But Rimark said his company is working on additional models to complete a full series of offerings.
Development and research included talking to both thermoformers and thermoforming machinery makers to find out what they wanted in a skeletal waste granulator.
ThermoPro granulators are designed to be operational at the end of a thermoforming line to automatically receive skeletal waste on a continual basis. Because they are located near where machine operators are located, the CEO said it was important to build a machine that's designed to reduce noise and vibration.
With the value of skeletal waste being so high for thermoformers, the payback on one of Rapid Granulator's ThermoPro machines is relatively short, Rimark said.
"It's like a money-printing machine," he said. "When you do it correctly and when it works, the savings are tremendous.
"The return on investment is normally just a couple of months on a machine like this. If you understand that you have such a short return on investment, you also understand that you have a big impact on your profitability," Rimark added. "The packaging industry is really an important segment of the market for Rapid Granulator."
ThermoPro was created to automatically adapt to different thicknesses of sheet.
"That can be quite complicated sometimes because the thin films want to sometimes to wrap around the rolls or wrap around the rotor and the thicker films could be hard to guide down to the cutting chamber," Rimark explained. "So we have designed a whole roll feeder system, and we have built it in a way that we have a very good downforce."
Rapid Granulator has been testing the ThermoPro through customer trials for about the past three months with a variety of materials, he said.
The company created a modular construction approach to allow the unit to service different thermoforming lines. Skeletal waste can be pushed out upward, downward and sideways, the CEO indicated. The design of the recycling machine can be adapted to serve those different approaches.