The thermoforming systems supplier Illig celebrated its 70th year of operation and hosted its 15th Open House under the banner “Tradition forms Future”. The event was held on June 22 and 23 at the company headquarters in Heilbronn, and was attended by some 250 visitors from all corners of the European economic area and from as far away as South America and India. Now in its 15th year, the annual event hosted by the global market leader of thermoforming systems has become a magnet for networking in the industry. Those in attendance were treated to a wide range of presentations and live machine demonstrations, which included trends in packaging technology, label decoration with In-mold Labeling Thermoforming (IML-T) technology, lightweight molds and end-of-line packaging. A diversity of applications differing in shape and size demonstrated the vanguard of technological innovation on ten of the latest generation, highly efficient and high-performance thermoformers in a real-life production environment.
Illig managing director Karl Schäuble also announced the highest number of received orders in the company’s storied history. In addition to the developments in technology over the last three years, factors contributing to this success have been identified as the increase in market demand for in-mold labeling decoration and, above all, the good economic development in non-European markets. In the coming years, Schäuble sees the demand for more automation and hygienic production processes as the main driving forces of development in the industry: “We expect the increase in the cycles per minute of Illig machine lines will continue to be a decisive factor in the near future for high lot-size productions and highly automated production processes. To accommodate this market demand we will continue to improve the cpm-speed in the thermoforming and trimming process, as this will further improve the quality and reliability of the formed parts.” To this end, the installation of camera-assisted quality assurance systems will be a contributing factor. Repeated cleaning intervals necessitated by increased hygiene standards are a constraint on productivity, for which Illig is also developing solutions.
Of particular interest among the live machine demonstrations was the IML-T on the RDM 70K production line in combination with the specially designed RDML 70b unit: Every hour 17,280 rectangular cups made of polypropylene were produced on an 18-cavity mold that included picture-perfect decorated labeling on all four sides and the bottom of the cups during the forming process.
New at this year’s Open House was the latest-generation RV 74d automatic vacuum forming machine with enhanced performance in direct comparison with the previous version. The forming area has been extended, the forming pressure increased by 50 % from 2 to 3 bar, and the maximum cycles per minute increased to 40 cpm. The part quality has been further improved by controlled overlapping machine sequences and optimized heating settings. For demonstration purposes, polystyrene food trays were formed on the RV 74d using a 6-cavity mold. Some of the special features of this vacuum-forming machine are its exceptional flexibility, compatibility with cost-effective molds that can be self-made using the included mold-making manual, and its high availability.
The same can also be said for the automatic pressure-forming machines RDK, RDKP and RDM-K. The RDM-K-series cup machines deliver unrivaled solutions for the reliable reproduction of the thermoforming process and its control, currently not offered by any other thermoforming supplier on the market. In combination with lightweight molds, the new RDM 76K (with a forming area of 760 mm x 530 mm) achieves maximum output while simultaneously increasing the service life of the trimming die. In live demonstrations at the Open House this resulted in 126,000 PP sealing rim cups per hour on a 60-cavity mold.