Ceramicx launched a revolutionary new IR heating tool known as "The Herschel" at K 2013. The new machine was on the Ceramicx exhibition stand and is now helping the worldwide plastics industries achieve pinpoint processing accuracy and increased profit margin through energy saving. Developed in partnership with Trinity College Dublin the Herschel now gives plastics processors an easy and automated way to measure and map a heat spectrum that was previously invisible.
Dr Cáthál Wilson and Dr Gerard McGranaghan of Ceramicx together with Dr Tony Robinson of Trinity College Dublin put the new system through its paces at K 2013; and showed plastics thermoformers and blow moulders how it could work for them, through more effective manufacturing and through better process design.
The Ceramicx machine tool enables:
- A greater understanding and measurement of how infrared heating elements of all kinds actually work and perform – mapping a previously invisible spectrum of IR radiant heat
- A greater understanding, measurement and predictability of how IR heat radiation affects target bodies; in the first instance a variety of plastic materials (to be shown at the K 2013 exhibition)
Ceramicx uses this machine:
- In the design and performance of its own infrared heating components
- In the design and build of thermoforming heaters and blow moulding machines and other machinery involving IR heating
- In the general testing and assessment of IR components and systems
Not only does the Ceramicx IR heat system free up original IR heat research – based upon empirical measurement - such research also enables increased production control, accuracy and cost savings in industry through much more effective IR heatwork.
The simplicity of the combined elements gives the IR machine tool a unique appeal: Sensors, robotics; thermocouples, and sophisticated post programming software are combined to provide the most practical method in measuring radiant heat flux distribution from any given heater system. From that base criteria the system can be tweaked to measure different effects. A variety of target bodies in plastics – polypropylene; polyethylene etc - can be experimented with in order to help with the design of different heater and reflectors and with the effects of different kinds of IR heat; short, medium and long wave.
Ceramicx has done considerable work in identifying areas where thermoformers typically leak profit and reduce margin. Most of these involve outmoded and unaware habits in relation to the design and operation of heat systems in thermoforming. Ceramicx stresses the accurate deployment of IR heat for reducing costs for thermoforming. Benefits include:
- 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
Ceramicx-designed thermoforming systems essentially convert incoming electrical power into infrared output more quickly and efficiently. The core of the Ceramicx quality assurance (QA) work also centres on developing systems of closely specified nominal wattage tolerances for the ceramic and quartz electrical elements. This control applies throughout the entire range of Ceramicx IR heating products. The semi-automated validation system with closed-loop process-control guarantees the product quality. It also assigns and records performance characteristics for each part as it is produced.
In thermoforming production a number of infrared ceramic heaters are generally mounted on reflectors which are then arrayed upon a platen structure which forms the heatwork in the production line. The performance of the background reflectors - their material composition - and the performance of the platen in general – are all vital factors in directing the infrared heating to the plastic. The new IR machine tool is now able to map the combination of these factors – and their effects on target plastic materials – like never before.