Infrared heating experts Ceramicx and Freek promise to unveil innovative heating solutions at K 2010

K 2010, the triennial event and highlight of the plastic industries calendar will be held at the Messe Dusseldorf in Germany this year. Occurring every three years the 2010 version  will run for a week from Wednesday 27th October to 3rd November and promises to be a great show with many top companies unveiling their best and latest innovations for the plastics industry for the first time at this event. Two such companies that are keen to highlight and showcase a variety of the advancements they have both made in their respective fields of heating technology for the plastics industry are Ceramicx and Freek.

Ceramicxs infrared heating technology and infrared heating systems have greatly helped improve profits and efficiency for the plastics thermoforming industry through their continually developed infrared heating systems and heaters and through their engineers who have always found more ways to improve developments in their infrared heating systems for plastic thermoforming. At K 2010 all of their latest developments in this field will be on show as well as a variety of their infrared heaters.

The other company all geared up for K 2010  is Friedr Freek, German heating experts, who will also be showcasing their latest heating innovations and wares with their stand partner Ceramicx. Freek have most heating bases covered when it comes to issues of  injection moulding heating, hot runners and other systems. At K 2010, Freek will be displaying an extensive product range that includes items such as Nozzle Heaters (HotMicroCoils); Cartridge heaters; Tubular heaters; IR elements; flat heating elements (panel heaters) in mica, silicon (incl. drum heaters), polyester as well as kapton, thermosensors and temperature controllers to name just a few of their many products.

The exciting innovations to come from heating experts Ceramicx and Freek informative and worthwhile exhibition make a trip to their combined stand at the K show an exciting option this autumn.

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Sonaco acquires leading CPET producer APT

ATP or Associated Packaging Technologies Inc. as it is known, one of the world’s leading processors of crystallized polyethylene terephthalate (CPET) trays, has been acquired up by Sonoco, one of the world’s largest packaging processors at a cost of $120 million (which includes the price of paying off the various obligations of APT)

Previously majority owned by investment funds controlled by Castle Harlan Inc  and founded in 1993 APT is a leading provider of dual-ovenable (used in both ovens and microwaves), food packaging that serves the frozen food industry in North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.  It runs state of the art CPET thermoforming facilities at two sites in the U.S.(Chillicothe, MO, and Waynesville, NC), as well as one site in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada  and another at Carrickmacross, Ireland, and employs more than 400 workers. APT’s capacity is enough to process some 3 billion CPET containers annually; it standardizes on extrusion machinery from Davis-Standard and thermoformers from Lyle.

Last year it had announced it was adding polypropylene and multi-layer film extrusion and thermoforming capacity to its Canadian facility thereby raising its capacity there by about 8 million lb/year. It also was the first processor in the U.S. to thermoform frozen meal trays incorporating post-consumer recycled plastic.

This acquisition is expected to be modestly accretive this year with annualized sales of approximately $150 million.

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GN Thermoforming’s Tool Specific Heater Platen

Developed last year by GN Thermoforming Equipment, the tool-specific heater platen is one of the first heating platens designed for contact-heat, cut-in-place thermoforming machines. It gives higher output, better product clarity, and quicker tool changeovers for large-volume applications.

This  heater platen helps reduce cycle time by 20% to 30% with greater product clarity. The quicker forming times allows for a more consistent material distribution and it’s  designed to match a specific tool through pre-engineering heater and air channel locations within it to optimize the process.

Each dedicated heater platen has a specific cut plate that matches the design of the tool cutting die layout.

Located in the platen within 1 mm of where the cutting die touches the cutting plate, is an air channel which provides access for a high volume of forming air to reach each cavity. This channel provides significantly more air volume than the standard 0.4-mm holes.

On the mold carrier beam there is a retrofitable locating feature to keep the heater platen accurately lined up with the tool.  It has an aluminum insert within the die perimeter which is micro drilled for venting and anodized for durability  in order to provide a more consistent heating and form a clearer product.
In test runs for production of a 40-mm-high product, the 16-mil- thick APET sheet does it at 26 cycles/min making it significantly faster than the 20 cycles/min rate on a traditional GN thermoformer.

While the tool-specific heater platen costs $12,000-$18,000 per tool set, the investment can be easily recouped due to the high production efficiencies, according to the company. It is most often used for food packaging applications.

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Thermoforming champion McConnell dead at 88

Bill McConnell Jr., an expert on thermoforming and a longtime proponent of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ successful Thermoforming Division, died June 5 in Fort Worth. He was 88.

McConnell died from Clostridium difficile (C.diff.) infection and organ failure, according to an email from his family. He had been admitted to a hospital on June 2.

“While his passing was quick and unexpected, he passed peacefully, surrounded by family,” the email said.

McConnell was working as a sales manager for Texstar Inc., a thermoformer in Grand Prairie, Texas, when he decided to start McConnell Co. Inc. The Fort Worth Texas firm helps thermoformers with problem solving, plant analysis, parts trouble-shooting and design, and legal research.

Active in SPE, McConnell was named Thermoformer of the Year by the organization in 1982.

There will be no funeral or wake, but a celebration of his life with friends and family is planned for June 12 in Forth Worth.


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Thermoforming – how it works

Heat forms a major part of the thermoforming process and many different makes of thermoforming machines use different types of heater for the most important part of the procedure the transformation of the plastic from solid to pliable. To understand the importance of heaters in thermoforming it is worth understanding the basics of thermoforming first.

Thermoforming is the process of creating and in some cases reshaping plastic and or film products. It forms the basis of the plastics industry, being the machinery and process on which all plastic products are created. In a thermoforming machine a plastic sheet or film is sandwiched between, most of the time but not always, infrared ceramic or quartz heaters and heated to the stage where it begins to lose its initial shape and becomes malleable. When it is at the malleable stage it can then be deformed and reshaped on a specifically designed mould in the second stage of the process. The deformed and pliable plastic sheet is wrapped around the predesigned  mold and  is  held in place to settle in its new shape through the use of correct air pressure and a vacuum within the machine. After the sheet is shaped it is cooled with its new form determined by the design of mold onto which it was fashioned on.

As well as being called thermoforming machines these types of machines and processes are often called by a majority of different names including vacuum forming machines, sheet fed vacuum formers, vac formers, roll fed thermo formers, blister packaging machines etc. But all of these machines essentially use the same process to reshape and create plastic products, be it a plastic carton to a plastic toy to blister packs, from new technological products made of plastic to your basic plastic packaging all of these wide range of plastics are created through thermoforming, and the major component of the thermoforming procedure is the heaters that transform a solid plastic sheet to a malleable plastic shape. Overall a good heating setup within the thermoforming machine and process is invaluable.

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Thermoforming Heater

In the following posts related to thermoforming heaters we are going to take a look at various pieces of information in order to keep you both informed and updated on all the main data you need to know when it comes to looking at thermoforming heaters and knowing which one is best to invest in. We will in time post information on what they are specifically and the process in which they are formed and how they in turn transmit heat. At later posts we will be taking a look at all the types and brands to be found around and will review and see which ones are the best.

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