ILLIG the manufacturer of thermoforming machinery and the company which provides solutions for the packing technology could welcome altogether approx. 300 participants to the Open House held on 22nd September for the German speaking experts and on 24th September for the international professional experts. Besides customers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland - approx. 60 percent of the participants - experts came from the West and East European market area but even customers from North and South America as well as of the Asian market area right up to China informed themselves about the state-of-the-art in thermoforming technology.
Offered were both lectures of experts regarding the state-of-the-art of thermoforming and altogether nine machine demonstrations showing practical applications under production conditions of a wide representative range. The current 3rd Generation of thermoforming machines and tools of the RDK/RDKP and RDM-K series were focused at the event this year. The field of applications for automatic pressure forming machines of the RDK series for combined forming / punching operation as well as the RDKP series for separate forming and punching reaches from the production of hinged packages via menu trays right up to end caps. The field of applications of the RDM-K series is emphasized on the thermoforming of cups of any shape and size in multi-cavity tools. Compared with the former standard the current machine and tool generation achieves an increase in speed, which percentage is clearly in the two-digit area. At the same time energy efficiency and product quality have been improved.
The event was held in the new ILLIG customer center at the Heilbronn premises, which now officially "started operation" by the 10th Open House, after the new building has been finished. "The new ILLIG customer center was certainly not the only reason to accept very far distances to come to our Open House. We notice that our customers - even in the current economic crisis - have an increasing demand to be informed about new trends in thermoforming and in packaging technology. The technologies used have continued to develop very rapidly over a short time period", explained Karl Schäuble, Managing Director of the company, who visibly was pleased about the run of customers.
The new customer center is very important for ILLIG with regard to the wide range of offers for their customers. "With this new building we have created a modern, future-oriented infrastructure for a lively communication center around thermoforming of plastic materials. In the future projects will be developed here with customer input all the way through to completion. At the same time in this modern environment the training courses for basics and practical application of thermoforming will take place, which are regularly held by ILLIG and which are still very popular and demanded", said Schäuble. In the newly constructed building, which architecture will form ILLIG's image, with its altogether 1,800 m² usable space will provide more than 700 m² for the customer center. These are spread over a large conference hall with the most modern media technology on the first floor and multifunctional usable new conference rooms on the ground floor. On the upper floors the areas are united, which allows direct customer contact and interaction with the sales department. With an investment of 7 million EUROs for this new building ILLIG again strengthened the location Heilbronn and his market position.
Productivity raised and at the same time product quality clearly increased.
As an example for the efficiency of the RDM K thermoformers of the 3rd Generation the RDM 70K was shown among other machines at the Open House. This model is equipped with a forming area of 680 x 280 mm² and has a closing force of 320 kN. With a 27-up tool drinking cups with a diameter of 75 mm were made out of RPET (PET material made of post consumer waste by recycling procedures and suitable for direct food contact) in 40 cycles/minute. On account of the considerable increase in productivity compared with the former series, further developments especially as far as tool technologies are concerned, caused clear increase in product quality at the same time: high, even dimensions were maintained for all cups of a multi-cavity tool with very high definition of contours, uniform evenness of sealing rim, uniform distribution of wall thickness, high stability of cup (top load) and many more. All this is achieved by individual controlled forming air supply per cavity with up to 75 % saving of the forming air volume as required before, a new kind of downholder control as well as an optimized tool cooling. This even enables material saving by up to 10 % and that with maintaining exactly repeated specific quality criteria.
The performance of the thermoformers RDK and RDKP of the current 3rd Generation showed in a very descriptive way the complete production line with the automatic pressure former RDK 90 in forming and punching operation. This model, which has been finished last, is the biggest version of the series of compressed air thermoformers with 900 mm workable material width and 700 mm material index length. On this machine trays were made at a size of 190 x 144 mm² out of 0.4 mm thick APET in 55 cycles per minute on a 16-up tool as will be used in millions for packages to sell or keep fresh meat, vegetables, fruits and many more. The speed of up to 55 cycles per minute in production, which can be realized today with the automatic thermoformers, are an important feature of the automatic thermoformers RDK and RDKP of the 3rd Generation. A pre-condition for this are the servo drives, which are used for all movements. On one side they save energy, work rapidly and exactly. On the other side the high accuracy of positioning and repetition of these drives enable to realize maximal processing time which save overlapping of the sequences. The new control unit ILLIG ThermoLine Control increases the operational comfort by the central integration of all machine components in the production line. At the same time nonproductive times for a format or tool change are considerably reduced and can thus be used in a value added way.
„The great response to our event with many intensive expert discussions showed us that ILLIG is well prepared for the future in respect of technology and organization. All in all this is a good pre-condition to get over the current crisis and to continue growth", values Karl Schäuble effort and benefit of this event. For some months ILLIG again has noticed an increase in receiving orders mainly from non-European markets. "We attribute this to a backlog in demand since scheduled investments by our customers were postponed for more than 12 months. If this trend continues, cannot yet be judged surely, but there is hope again" says Schäuble optimistically. He expects that there will be an increasing market for thermoforming and packaging machines worldwide also in future. To increase productivity and product quality and to reduce consumption of resources at the same time are the driving forces for investments in new, efficient technologies.