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Ballydehob, Co. Cork, Ireland, 2010/04/27 - International heating systems specialist and manufacturer Ceramicx is on a mission this year to show the plastics thermoforming industry that a simple upgrade to an infrared heating system can increase profit margin by up to 40%.
The infrared heating upgrade is designed to improve the performance of a fixed capital asset that would take millions to replace and the upgrade, moreover, typically pays for itself within months.
The Ceramicx infrared-in-thermoforming campaign is primarily aimed at international plastics processing manufacturers – a good percentage of which will be visiting Ceramicx’s exhibition stand at the worldwide triennial plastics K 2010 fair in Dusseldorf, Germany this October.
Ceramicx founder and Managing Director Frank Wilson says that ‘infrared platen upgrading and control has to be one of the thermoforming industry’s best kept secrets: For a very low five figure sum a sophisticated upgrade to a fixed and expensive capital asset can be supplied – and not only pay for itself within months but also make you 40% more money on the output which you were having to make anyway. Not only that, but the move will significantly prolong the life of your fixed machinery.
Wilson asks ‘how many typical thermoforming machines encountered regular issues or problems in their mechanical movement? Hardly any.’
Much more likely, says Ceramicx, are processing problems in the heating area – with burn out; with electrical faults and with problems with older style and non-directional heating.’ Wilson cites tubular and magnesium filled heating solutions; black rod heating and other kinds of non-infrared sources as contributing to inexact systems of production and – above all – to a waste of energy and electricity cost. ‘In a completely enclosed system or oven, this kind of heating becomes uncontrollable,’ he says, ‘and the thermoforming operator is being continually forced to ramp up the power and the input electricity in order to try and maintain a temperature.’
Wilson points out, however, that ‘for effective plastics thermoforming, the energy inputs have to be properly measured and then specifically applied.’ And Wilson adds that ‘as a long as a company’s financial and engineering departments remain separate, there will be precious little awareness of the issue – or a need to change it. The fact is, however, that the standard emissivity of an infrared element is rated at 0.96 compared to 0.60 of tubular heating – as referenced against an ideal of 1.0.’
The Ceramicx man reflects that the thermoforming industry may be reaching a point akin to the automotive market, where ‘gas guzzlers’ are simply no longer becoming attractive.
Wilson says that a host of other factors will contribute to thermoformers wanting to realise more margin and more money via infrared from their fixed production, including:
• 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.
Wilson’s view is that ‘most thermoforming companies spend their time unnecessarily contemplating the expensive prospect of a new machine to make them more money some time in the future when they could be making more money now - with an infrared platen system upgrade,’ says Wilson. ‘The industry will do far better making best use of what it already has. This does not mean thrashing and over-riding its heating systems at 100% despite the energy bills and the component failures. It means finding the ‘sweet spot’ of the existing thermoforming system using controlled systems of infrared heating,’ he adds.
Ceramicx (ceramicx.com) was set up in 1992 and in 1994 moved into its new premises in Ballydehob, Ireland on a site previously owned by Infrared Internationale. The factory output is 98% exported. The company’s planned developments and expansion will include higher value jobs supported by increased levels of automation and know-how at our factory works. Over the past five years Ceramicx has invested in a large machinery shop, with CNC milling machines and metal cutting, shaping and finishing machinery to ensure the continuing independent manufacturing success of the company – with no dependence on outsourcing and full control of the innovation and materials used.
Ceramicx products and systems are already extensively used in a wide range of industrial and consumer areas. Whether they know it or not, the worldwide plastics and packaging industries are all key users since much of their processing equipment already contains Ceramicx heating elements or Ceramicx heating design. Thermoformed plastic products surround us all in the day to day – from butter tubs to burger boxes and from fridge linings to car door linings – and Ceramicx has played its part in the heat forming technology.
All of these elements offer an immense range of heating types and heating performance: Ceramicx makes Ceramic and Quartz emitters which range in surface temperature from 150°C (302°F) to 730°C (1346°F) and the Ceramicx Tungsten bulbs are capable of reaching in excess of 2400°C (4352°F).
Part of the Ceramicx service been to mix and match these heating options in the best interests of the customer. Founder Frank Wilson says that ‘at Ceramicx you will find a company that is not satisfied with the established standards for the industry. We have developed many new products that better fit the needs of today's manufacturer who has no choice but to be reliant on process heating. Our niche is in giving this customer a much superior product at a competitive price. In addition, the energy content of every product is a very important cost and ecological issue.’
Ceramicx logistics and delivery systems are second to none: Each day the company ships its output across the globe. The goods range from the smallest carton of around 6kgs to full pallets and containers. The company ships by road, sea and air and the requirements vary greatly for different countries: Destinations outside the EU require import documentation such as movement certificates and export documents, Certificates of Origin, Invoices and other documents – all of which the company has expert systems for.
Ceramicx also pays great attention to the packaging and safety of its goods in transit and all goods are carefully wrapped and packaged. Ceramicx uses recycled packing for all of our shipments wherever possible.
As an industrial company, a user of energy - and a producer of energy products for a multitude of other industrial companies – Ceramicx is highly aware of the new energy agenda in the world and the need for ecological and low carbon footprint products and practices. Accordingly the company is planning the construction of its own wind turbine for all its future energy use.
Submitted by Granite Consulting (Granite.ie) on behalf of Ceramicx Ireland Ltd