Ceramicx launches the game changer for thermoforming process design - 30.09.2013

Leading component manufacturer, machinery builder and IR heat specialist Ceramicx launches a revolutionary new IR heating tool at K 2013. The new machine will be operational on the Ceramicx exhibition stand and is set to help the worldwide plastics industries achieve pinpoint processing accuracy and increased profit margin through energy saving.

Developed in partnership with Trinity College Dublin the new tool now gives plastics processors an easy and automated way to measure and map a heat spectrum that was previously invisible.

Dr Cathal Wilson and Dr Gerard McGranaghan of Ceramicx together with Dr Tony Robinson of Trinity College Dublin will be putting the new system through its paces at K 2013; showing plastics thermoformers and blow moulders how it can work for them, through more effective manufacturing and through better process design.

The new Ceramicx machine tool is set to enable:

A greater understanding and measurement of how IR heating elements of all kinds actually work and perform – mapping a previously invisible spectrum of IR radiant heat

A greater understanding, measurement and predictability of how IR heat radiation affects target bodies; in the first instance a variety of plastic materials (to be shown at the K 2013 exhibition)

The first model will be on show in Dusseldorf from October 16-23. Ceramicx will then build future machines to customer order and purchase.

Ceramicx also expects to immediately use this machine:

  • in the design and performance of its own infrared heating components
  • in the design and build of thermoforming and blow moulding machines and other machinery involving IR heating
  • in the general testing and assessment of IR components and systems

Not only will the new Ceramicx IR heat system free up original IR heat research – based upon emperical measurement - such research will also enable increased production control, accuracy and cost savings in industry through much more effective IR heatwork.

The simplicity of the combined elements gives the new IR machine tool a unique appeal: Sensors, robotics; thermocouples, and programmes such as LabView and Matlab are arranged in such a way as to provide the most practical ways in measuring radiant heat flux distribution from any given heater system. From that base criteria the system can be tweaked to measure different effects. A variety of target bodies in plastics – polypropylene; polyethylene etc - can be experimented with in order to help with the design of different heater and reflectors and with the effects of different kinds of IR heat; short, medium and long wave.

Ceramicx has done considerable work in the past four years in identifying areas where thermoformers typically leak profit and reduce margin. Most of these involve outmoded and unaware habits in relation to the design and operation of heat systems in thermoforming. Ceramicx stresses the accurate deployment of IR heat. Benefits include:

  • Major reduction in capital equipment wear and tear
  • Like-for-like infrared for tubular replacements
  • Elimination of 'hot box' tubular problems
  • No need for changes in control or instrumentation
  • Poor performing infra red to be replaced with superior platens
  • Savings in directional heat
  • Better resultant product quality
  • Improved set up time and tool change time
  • More complex parts possible
  • Cooling requirements also reduced
  • Matching of heating controls to polymers being processed
  • Improved environment for operators

Ceramicx-designed thermoforming systems essentially convert incoming electrical wattage into infrared output more quickly and efficiently. The core of the Ceramicx quality assurance (QA) work also centres on developing systems of closely specified nominal wattage tolerances for the ceramic and quartz electrical elements. This control applies throughout the entire range of Ceramicx IR heating products. The semi automated validation system with closed-loop process-control guarantees the product quality. It also assigns and records performance characteristics for each part as it is produced.

Heater in test In thermoforming production a number of infrared ceramic heaters are generally mounted on reflectors which are then arrayed upon a platen – or two – which forms the heatwork in the production line. The performance of the background reflectors - their material composition - and the performance of the platen in general – these factors are all vital in directing the infrared heating to the plastic. The new IR machine tool is now able to map the combination of these factors – and their effects on target plastic materials – like never before.

Ceramicx founder and director Frank Wilson says that 'our new tool is all about helping the plastics thermoforming industry towards the efficiences it needs to achieve in the twenty first century. One thing is certain: energy issues and rising energy costs are not going away. Accurate infrared heat technology will therefore play an inevitable part in the profitability of thermoforming. Our new system will show the K 2013 audience exactly where those profits can be found; demonstrating infrared with intelligence of use and combining radiant thermal dynamics, materials know-how and target control.

Ceramicx/Freek – K 2013 – Hall 11 Stand A01

older article newer article