Case study: In-Line Thermoforming Oven Solution
The UK based company called Linpac Packaging provides rigid and flexible packaging solutions to customers around the world. They approached Ceramicx to design and build a new heating system that could integrate into their current machine. However, they wanted some ‘REAL’ energy savings and they did not want to undergo a large capital investment programme.
Ceramicx designed and built the infrared heating system for one of their thermoforming machines, an IRWIN 44 thermoformer. Ceramicx built the oven system, which featured both an upper and lower heating system with PLC control. The software and control panel were also built on site in Ceramicx.
The key features of the oven heating system included:
|Oven Frame||Stainless Steel Box Section|
|Reflectors||Special aluminium clad steel|
|Upper Element Type||SFEH Yellow – longwave ceramic infrared element|
|Lower Element Type||Anodised Aluminium Panels|
|Control Type||Open and closed loop|
|Control feedback||Type K Thermocouples integrated into ceramic element|
|Sheet Temperature monitoring||Pyrometer|
|Total Power||Approx. 164KW|
|Oven Size||6.8 x 1.6 metres|
The oven has a total of 5 temperature sensors built into the system that can be selected individually or grouped for control purposes. Additionally, the heaters can be subdivided into as many as 114 separate zones, giving a wide range of control options. The oven is fitted with pneumatic cylinders, operated manually via two solenoid valves with the lower half used as a counterweight. At the end of the system is a closed fixed heating zone.
The heating system is vastly superior to those in use. An independent study was conducted by Dr. Robin Kent of Tangram Technology Ltd. that made direct comparisons between two thermoforming lines using identical tools, products, and cycle times. The Ceramicx heating system showed a decrease in the average power drawn from 56.16 to 32.85kW.
This confirmed a 40% energy saving for Linpac, by building their machine using infrared technology and building in a control system that would allow for cost-savings to be gained throughout their process.