The IC-Thermoformer – A New Machine Generation which Thinks and Controls
With its “IC – ILLIG Intelligent Control Concept“, ILLIG is raising thermoforming to a new, higher level. The modules developed for this purpose are built to boost the productivity, repeatability, availability and operating convenience of a thermoforming machine or a full thermoforming line. Dynamic process optimization as one element of this concept makes it possible for the first time to benefit extensively, rapidly and with minimized operator intervention from the best-in-class thermoforming technology offered by today's consistently servomotor-driven machine technology.
The advantages provided by today's ILLIG thermoformers are undeniable, whether it's an RDK (combined forming and punching) or RDKP (separate forming and punching) unit for the production of trays, tubs or the like or an RDM-K series machine of the type referred to as automatic cup formers. Servomotor drives on all motion sequences ensure high levels of speed, precision and energy efficiency, while the superior positioning accuracy and repeatability of these drive systems supports maximum overlap between operations, thereby saving process time. As a result, a thermoformer run in this manner can achieve major cycle time reductions and the output of thermoformed parts is increased. Compared to the previous equipment generation, cycle rate gains of well over 30 percent can be realized in this manner.
Needless to say, as automatic thermoforming machines gain in functional complexity, they also become more complex to operate and control. Today's operators must possess a high degree of process competence, e.g., to optimize an integrated thermoforming line and to match all parameters in the best possible way. Only then can high cycle rates (i.e., high productivity) be combined with constantly high product quality.
ILLIG IC: The intelligent operating concept optimizes sequences automatically
With the new intelligent operating concept ILLIG assists the user in benefiting fully from this combination of high productivity, repeatability and machine availability rates while also simplifying the operator's tasks. To this end, the scheme comprises a number of mutually compatible modules:
- Dynamic process optimization
- Compensation of ambient influences in the process
- Accelerated mold change
- Self-adaptive start-up phase (sas-up®), and
- ILLIG NetService (troubleshooting and remote diagnosis support)
|Hinged pack made of PP on an ILLIG IC-RDKP 72 |
and APET cup made on an ILLIG IC-RDM 54K
ThermoLineControl: With the ThermoLineControl system, the operation of all individual machines of the thermoforming line can be centrally managed, monitored, optimized and controlled from the control panel of the forming station. This feature provides increased operator convenience, e.g., for process optimization and data management. It also saves time and effort during a mould or format change while raising the machine's availability rate (productivity) at the same time. Moreover, fault analysis and troubleshooting in the event of a malfunction are made easier and more effective.
|´The intelligent ILLIG IC control concept provides an |
automatic optimization of operating sequences in a thermoforming line.
Dynamic process optimization: The machine's operating sequences are managed via a so-called motion control system. It ensures that the position of each movement can be unambiguously determined and hence, accurately controlled at all times. This makes it possible to simplify the programs governing the thermoforming sequence, so that the task of selecting the right machine settings is facilitated. The operator no longer needs an expert's understanding of the interdependence of optimization parameters since the latter will be handled by the control system automatically and in real time.
When settings are changed, the machine's operating sequences are re-calculated and adapted while the preset process parameters are maintained. Downstream stations such as the steel rule punch press, hole punching unit and stacker are integrated into the dynamic optimization system. As a result, the operating sequence is always controlled so as to yield a maximum cycle rate for the highest achievable molding quality.
Compensation of ambient influences: Before, the machine frame would inevitably heat up as production progressed, resulting in temperature non-uniformity (temperature drift) of the material band, among other phenomena. A compensating controller is now used to ensure a constant film temperature via continuous automatic adaptation of the heating element temperature or heating time, respectively. At the same time, the forming air pressure, temperature and cooling water throughput are monitored inside the mold. All of these features promote a constantly high product quality.
Faster mold change: A structured help system displayed on the control screen guides the operator meticulously through the mold-change process. His tasks are thus facilitated, and valuable time is saved during a mold and/or format change. As a result, the machine's availability rate goes up.
Self-adaptive start-up phase (sas-up®): The "sas-up®" self-adaptive start-up mode provides a reduced cycle rate and process-optimized settings. It thus helps to reduce the consumption of semi-finished input material substantially. Later when the line is switched to production operation, it automatically shifts to a high cycle rate and matching heater output to heat the material band uniformly to its optimum thermoforming temperature.
ILLIG NetService: The intelligent control concept is supplemented by the option to run the production line with ILLIG NetService support. This enables technicians to review all system components via the Internet, working out of Heilbronn, and to carry out troubleshooting and rapid corrective steps where malfunctions are due to equipment settings. This service effectively assists users in safeguarding the high productivity level of their thermoforming lines.