Study LaserForming

Free forming of packaging foil: Is it possible? Study on the potentials and chances of laser based thermoforming

Workgroup: Filling and Packaging Processes

Scientific Partners and Guidance:

  • Fraunhofer Research Institution for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV, Martin Brugger

Financing: IVLV
Duration: 2018

Shorter product life cycles, an increasing trend towards customisation and a rising number of variations call for flexible production technology and increasing flexibility in packaging processes. Conventional methods in the shaping of packaging (e.g. thermoforming) cannot fulfil the requirements of form-related production steps like sealing and forming. A leap in technology is necessary to counteract the demands of flexible production.
Such technology leap can be achieved through the implementation of laser technology. This technology offers the advantages of a force-free and non-contact energy transfer with a free choice of the programmed contour. These benefits of the laser beam have already enabled new, highly flexible production technologies (e.g. selective laser melting, laser beam welding). In the packaging technology, a laser-based solution also allows incremental heating and shaping of the foil to influence the wall thicknesses, thereby enabling material savings. The Fraunhofer IGCV has already produced first example products using laser-based thermoforming. The study aims are to determine the transferability of this technology to industry. For this, a potential evaluation of the laser technology in the packaging industry is executed. During the study the technical, as well as the economic aspects, are investigated due the following solution steps:

  • Analysis systematisation: Which geometric elements are required by conventional packaging (radii geometry, etc.)?
  • Experimental investigations: Which parameters and which duration is needed to produce these shapes?
  • Potential assessment and recommendations for action: What is the technical potential? What economic potential does the process offer?

The generated contours and geometries should correspond to the packaging available on the market to ensure compliance with market requirements. For this purpose, members of the IVLV can contribute packaging examples, which are taken into account in the study.