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What's new in thermoforming.

CIM, SPC, QMC, all-electric servo machines--it's a high-tech show for thermoformers.

Important changes are coming to the realm of thermoforming, as this show's exhibits make clear. Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) with remote, multi-machine monitoring networks, statistical process-control (SPC), quick mold changing (QMC), closed-loop control with infrared sheet-temperature monitoring, and all-electric servodriven machines-- all of these will be exhibited as evidence that thermoforming is beginning to go high-tech.

Other things to look for are some brand-new nameplates--at least new to the U.S.--and ambitious demonstrations of PP forming.


At least two companies will show smooth, quiet new all-electric thermoformers at NPE. Lyle Industries Inc. in Beaverton, Mich., will show publicly for the first time its new FM-Series Electric Drive thermoformer, Model 230-FM. It has direct-driven, side-actuated toggles--"eliminating complex indirect linkage and crank configurations" that are prone to wear, Lyle says. Servodriven platens move on three axes and close with a double-cam motion and without the pounding of pneumatic drives. All-electric means no hydraulic oil, which is good for clean-room applications. Microcomputer controls allow setup storage and multimachine networking. The 230-FM costs about $250,000.

Brown Machine Div. of John Brown, Inc., Beaverton, Mich., which unveiled its CS-4500 electric servodriven continuous former at Plastics West last fall (see PT, Dec. '90, p. 17), will show a new trim-in-place continuous thermoformer with electric servodriven platens for the first time. The C-3015 has 30 x 15 in. forming area, 60-in. depth of draw, and automatic product handling. It costs around $185,000.


Two such new machines come from Irwin Research & Development Inc., Yakima, Wash. The smaller Micro will be running at the show. The other is so new it hasn't been named and may not be ready in time to bring to Chicago.

Both are designed to give custom formers product versatility and are the two smallest machines Irwin makes. They mount form and trim tools side by side on one set of platens, which is new for Irwin, which always utilized a separate trim press.

The Micro has a 28 x 12 in. forming area; the larger model has 28 x 20 in. Both models have QMC tooling, using threaded inserts with hydraulically released clamps. The Micro has a 2.5-in. depth of draw (4-in. optional) with 14 microprocessor-controlled oven zones (seven each, top and bottom).

Another interesting new machine from the West Coast was developed by two partners, Bob Strickler, and electronics specialist, and David Wallen, who invested three years and $75,000 of their own money, while continuing to work full-time at other jobs. Their company is called R. W. Strickler, in San Jose, Calif. They have a prototype running a customer product, and hope to bring the first commercial model to NPE.

The Series 1 will be a single-station sheed fed machine with 48 x 48 in. forming area and 30-in. depth of draw, although the machien is only 7.5 ft tall and needs no pit underneath. It will have Texas Instruments programmable controls with a touchscreen, providing self-diagnostics, remote monitoring capability, and job parameter storage. It also reportedly permits rapid mold changes, with mold accessibility from three sides. It runs material from 10 mils to 0.5 in.



Some machinery makers are adding to the large end of their product lines, too. Sencorp Systems Inc., Hyannis, Mass., has plans for two new high-output thermoforming machines in larger sizes than its recent Model 3000 (30 x 30 in.), which is being displayed for the first time. The new designs are Model 4000, with 40 x 40 in. forming area, and the 5000 with 50 x 40 in.

All run deep-draw PP parts and come with Sencorp's new Model PT 30 trim press and Sentroller II process controller, with setup memory and remote monitoring. The new wide-bed Model 4000 and 5000 have servodriven indexing, hydraulic forming press and mechanical trim press. Optional QMC devices, with integrated air and water disconnects, allow 15-min mold change, Sencorp says. The hydraulic side-mounted cylinders eliminate potential oil dripping over the thermoforming line. The 3000 costs from $190,000-350,000; the 4000 runs $280,000-450,000; and the 5000 is $370,000-550,000.


One of NPE's more ambitious thermoforming demonstrations will be high-speed forming of PP deli bowls on the new Gabler dual-function Model F 743, to be shown by FGH Systems, Denville, N.J. The roll-fed machine's "dual function" is a patented, two-step cutting technique with a partial cut-in-place. The sheet is then realigned to within 0.002 in. before it's clamped in place and the second cut is made. This two-step cutting reportedly avoids ragged part edges caused by standard die-cutting in a trim press. The NPE demonstration will make deli bowls in 15 cavities with automatic stacking. Base price for the F 743 is about $400,000.

Another new high-output machine for PP is Krupp Bellaform's INF 200 TIP-TC. Krupp, in Edison, N.J., will show drawings of the new TC model, which adds thermoconditioning and other features to the previous INF 200 TIP, which makes PS drinking cups at up to 21,600/hr (PT, Jan. '90, p. 89).


At NPE Lyle will demonstrate NET.COM, its new networking software, written in-house, which permits remote monitoring of up to 15 Lyle machines. This, one of the first commercial CIM systems for thermoforming, will monitor production on a 130-F42 former and 130 P2 trim press at the show, interfacing with Lyle's TPC-9000 microcomputer controls.

While CIM systems like Lyle's are just beginning to emerge (PT, April '91, p. 106), several companies will show advanced machine controls, particularly for oven zones. Brown will display its new TCS/IR controls with in-line SPC reporting and closed-loop adjusting of oven temperature and cycle time. The TCS/IR uses multihead infrared sensors to read and control every 12.5 sq. in. of sheet. The new controls, with full-color CRT display, will be on Brown's CS-4500 servodriven former. The TCS/IR controls average around $50,000.

Irwin will have its second-generation Micro Phaser II controls on three thermoformers running at NPE. MPII's operator console has a standard single-line display (14-in. color CRT optional) of process information, and controls motion via an encoder with up to nine axes. For NPE, Irwin will have three machines networked. MP II will become standard on all Irwin machines.

For Cannon USA Inc., Mars, Pa., this will be the first U.S. emphasis on Cannon's 1989 acquisition of Shelley Thermoformers of England. Cannon won't have a former on show, but will display controls Cannon developed for Shelley. These were new at K'89, but haven't been seen in the U.S. (PT, Jan. '90, p. 89). Cannon's controls offer 100-program storage and full closed-loop control with infrared sheet sensing and a digital "map" of the sheet temperature zones. Cannon says it is likely to opt to build Shelley formers in the U.S., but hasn't formally made a decision.

Maac Machinery Co. Inc., Itasca, Ill., is also demonstrating new controls for its sheet-fed pressure formers. The new system, which controls up to 200 oven zones, drastically reduces cycle time and results in energy savings of up to 30%, the company says.



For those interested in quick mold changing, Edward D. Segen & Co. Inc. of Devon, Conn., will show "new-generation" improvements in its QMC air cylinders and platen-mounted Adjustable Mold Bed (also seen at Plastics West--Pt, Dec. '90, p. 19). One improvement is said to be better cooling of the AMB with two water circuits instead of one; another is simplified mold clamping. Segen will also show an "adjustable-height" mold base for the first time.

Segen has what it says is a first in trim tooling, which makes punch-and-die trimming affordable to small processors. Without giving away details prior to the show, Segen hints that it involves a system of standardization of punch-and-die tooling that saves expense because it's built of master components.
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Title Annotation:National Plastic Exposition '91
Author:Schut, Jan H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:What's new in blow molding.
Next Article:What's new in RIM & urethanes.

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