Geiss adds thin-walled version of thermoformer to stable
Geiss, a Manufacturer of thermoforming machines, is offering a new version of its T10 machine for use in thin-walled, twin-sheet applications.
The company’s original T10 has been on the market since 2014. “T” stands for the German word “tief,” meaning deep, because the machine has considerable draw depth. For NPE 2015, the T10 gained servo-driven axes as a standard feature. On that model, servo motors drove top and bottom platens, the clamp frame, the top and bottom heater banks and sheet loader movements. That model is designed to manufacture products such as bathtubs, display signs and stands, light domes and other products for the automotive, aerospace, leisure and other industries.
The new T10, by contrast, is designed for thin-walled, twin-sheet applications such as heat exchanger and honeycombed panels — most commonly used for wall panels in boats and mobile homes.
The honeycombed panels also can be put into sturdier structures, such as homes and office buildings. For the latter, the panels are laminated with materials like Formica, thin layers of aluminum, wood and composite materials. Lamination adds strength, yet the panels remain very light, said Michael Roche, GM of the company’s U.S. operation. The heat-exchanger panels are for use in radiant heating systems.
“Those were the main drivers to develop the machine,” Roche said. After launching the product, Geiss found another use — soles for athletic shoes, because they too need to be very light, with heat tolerances similar to the panels.
“The new T10 is faster, more accurate, with resulting better product quality and a lower scrap rate,” Roche said. He estimates that the cycle time is 10 percent to 20 percent faster than earlier equipment.
To get an idea of the sheet sizes that are suited for the new T10, one must look at the material. Ultimately, in thin-walled, twin-sheet applications, the sheet thickness and size will depend on the resin type, Roche said. The higher the heat capacity of the material, the thinner the material can be. For example, polyolefins have a high heat capacity; as such, Geiss has formed 0.5mm ABS and 0.35mm PE and PP, and solid materials up to 2mm thick.
“On foam materials, we’ve done up to 5mm thick,” he said. “Sheet size would be manageable in sizes up to 2 meters in length and 1.2 meters wide. But if the sheet would be only 0.5 meters wide, you could go longer up to 3 meters or even more.
“In standard mono-sheet applications with our standard servo-driven platen system, we can guarantee the processability of any thermoplastic in any thickness, with our standard machine without any additional options,” he added.
These thin-walled products have a very low heat tolerance, so the manufacturing process needs to be quick — the platen cycle time needs to be less than 1 second — yet there needs to be extremely high closing force on the platen system, about 66 short tons, Roche said.
The new version of the T10 has a heating system with a Siemens controller that uses about one-third less energy than a typical heating system for this type of machine, Roche said. The controller and the heating system both are responsible for the energy savings; because further details about them are proprietary, the company declined to provide more information.
“But let’s just say it takes know-how. It is the most accurate heater control in terms of profile and therefore material distribution and product quality,” he said.
Additional energy efficiency can be gained through the use of optional patented Speedium halogen heaters, produced exclusively for Geiss. The Siemens control uses a Profinet connection that allows all the machine control and drive elements to communicate.
Roche said the machine’s very fast platen speeds and high closing forces enable customers to form very large, high-quality parts.
“With any other platen system, the results simply would not be possible,” he said.
To achieve the needed force and speed, Geiss replaced the four individually controlled servo-motor-driven ball screws that are at the four corners of the platen of the original T10 with a centrally located servo motor that drives a five-toggle-lever platen. The five-toggle system already is well-known in the injection molding industry for platen design, Roche said.
“It has distinct advantages in terms of the closing speed and relevant closing force. As a result, the platen closing speed is 0.6 seconds, and develops up to 60 metric tons [66 tons] of closing force.
This is compared to other platen-movement systems that have closing times that are as long as several seconds in standard cut-sheet applications and platen closing forces from about 8 to 10 metric tons [9 tons to 11 tons].”
Roche added that the company globally has sold 15 of the thin-walled T10 units since the version’s introduction, some of the 130 total T10 units the company has worldwide. Because of the popularity of its new model, the company has the largest backlog in its history, he said.
A Geiss T10 machine configured for thin-walled, twin sheet applications runs anywhere from $350,000 to $1 million, depending on the maximum part size and optional equipment. Roche said that Geiss can make a T10 machine to produce any specific sheet size a customer requires.
“We can deliver T10 machine starting with a minimum size 1,000mm by 600mm and we have delivered machines with 5,700mm by 2,200mm, which is a total of 12.5 square meters, and 6,350 by 1,800mm, which is 11.4 square meters. We are confident we could deliver a machine capable of handling a sheet up to 15 square meters,” Roche said. “In fact, our capacity to design and build large machines is not limited by our design and manufacturing facilities but rather the practical ability to transport such large machines and the availability of plastic sheets that would be anything wider than 2.6 meters.”
Geiss offers more than 100 options to meet the specifications of products for many industries, including the aerospace, automotive and medical industries.
Phillip Britt, correspondent
Durham, Conn., 203-988-9426, www.geissllc.com