Thermoforming is a widespread and cost efficient manufacturing process to produce three dimensional moulded parts out of plastic films. Final products of thermoforming are technical components or packaging devices. The production of packaging devices is characterized by requiring a large amount of resources which, in fact, are 70% of the global consumption of plastic material. Based on this, there is a need for saving materials and energy to fit today’s requirements regarding environmental and economic aspects.
Within the thermoforming process semi-finished material like films are preheated and afterwards formed by positive pressure. The main advantage of this procedure is the possible realization of molded parts with a comparatively thin wall thickness and lower material input. Up to now, none of the commercially available technical solutions are able to adjust the wall thickness or wall thickness distribution in a satisfying manner, or they are very cost-intensive.
In the framework of the present research project, the impact of wall pressure and wall temperature variations induced due to locally applied jet flows on the wall thickness of the final product, shall be investigated. Applying local pressure and temperature fields in combination with the temperature dependent behavior of the raw material is expected to reduce the overall material input by 15%,
while the properties of the desired product remain. Transferring the results of the present study into a guideline will guarantee a quick knowledge transfer to the key users which may be a competitive advantage within the highly competitive packaging market.
The complex relationships between the individual process parameters, non-linear material properties, and flow conditions require an interdisciplinary cooperation which would not be affordable by the SME dominated packaging engineering sector in Germany. Thus, fundamental interdisciplinary research is required to gain basic knowledge and to spread this knowledge to the industry, which is the focus of the present research project.
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The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.