Development of a method for application-specific parameterization of forming air impact technology – FIT 2.0

Research Project

Challenges

  • Inhomogeneous material distribution in thermoformed parts
  • High material usage to realize the required mechanical stability
  • Shortcomings with alternative technologies used to improve material distribution
  • Complex design of the technology

Research results

  • Parameterization tool for controlling the forming process
  • Information about the interaction between fluid flow, temperature distribution, and quality of the formed parts
  • Concept for the industrial application of forming air impact technology

Benefits

  • Optimized material distribution and resistance to compression
  • Reduced material usage
  • Optimized process control
  • Cost-efficiency due to minimal parametrization requirements
  • Easy tool change
Logo des BMWi als Hinweis auf die Förderung
Logo of the BMWi as a reference to the funding
Logo Industry Association for Food Technology and Packaging e.V.

Forming air impact technology for customized material distribution

The Forming Processes group at Fraunhofer IVV in Dresden is using a precisely directed flow of forming air to try and resolve the issue of technology-related variations in the material thickness of thermoformed parts.

Depending on the application and function of thermoformed parts, specific quality requirements must be met in terms of their geometry and resistance to compression. If the material thickness is uneven, more material is required in order to meet mechanical stability requirements.

The use of forming air impact technology makes it possible to achieve a defined distribution and thickness of material. The consequence of this is a better use of material, improved quality parameters and enhanced efficiency of the thermoforming process.

In order to achieve significant reduction in the time and cost to design this technology in line with required product specifications, the Fraunhofer IVV group is now developing a parameterization tool. This also addresses shortcomings with other technologies currently used to enable a customized control of the forming process. These technologies are maintenance-intensive, costly, difficult to parametrize, and often lead to a progressive deterioration of product quality over the course of the manufacturing process.

Parameterization of the airflow enables controlled thermoforming

Forming air impact technology subjects the substrate or semi-finished product to both a mechanical and thermal impact. First of all, the product is homogeneously heated and is then formed via a precisely directed flow of forming air from a nozzle system (forming air impact).

In order to develop a parameterization tool for the optimization of process design, a number of approaches were evaluated, including the Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) model and machine learning. We also analyzed their potential application for the purposes of tool parameterization in thermoforming.

The focus of the project is to develop a concept for an industrial use of forming air impact technology in a controllable forming process using compressed air. Here, the key challenges lie in not only the dynamic process itself but also the interaction between fluid flow and the forming of the plastic semi-finished product.  

What can the process be used for?

Forming air impact technology has huge potential for the manufacture of packaging. By focusing on the interaction between the cooling and forming of plastics by means of a fluid flow and the development of a parametrization tool, the project also creates numerous other openings in, for example, medical technology, the automotive industry, and the field of smart molded structures (SME).

Do you have any questions or require further information about this project? Then please get in touch with us!

 

Project term
April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2021
Project partner
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Project management/funding German Federation of Industrial Research Associations AiF (via the Industrievereinigung für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Verpackung e. V. (IVLV)) / Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

 

New approach: controllable material cooling by using forming air impact technology

As part of the FIT 2.0 research project, we are also investigating the interaction between the flow and temperature profile of the material.  We are interested in the extent to which the airflow affects the cooling of the plastic and thus its forming behaviour. The results of this research can be used to derive parameters for a targeted, effective design of thermoforming process. This will enable further savings in resources.