BEAD.MACHINE sets new standards in particle foam processing
Particle foam, shapely and flexible: BEAD.MACHINE sets new standards in processing
Interview with Stefan Hofmann, Managing Director, Siegfried Hofmann GmbH
Exclusively for K-Mag
The BEAD.MACHINE from Siegfried Hofmann GmbH enables the efficient production of complex moulded parts from particle foam – setting new standards. Copyright: Hofmann
Lightweight with great significance: particle foam offers a wide range of applications – from automotive to packaging and lifestyle. The BEAD.MACHINE from Siegfried Hofmann GmbH marks a significant advance in the processing of this versatile class of materials: it enables the efficient production of complex moulded particle foam parts, setting new standards in terms of product quality and environmental friendliness.
Stefan Hofmann. Copyright: Hofmann
In an interview with K-Mag, Managing Director Stefan Hofmann talks about the BEAD.MACHINE and its innovation and contribution to sustainability, as well as the extent to which Siegfried Hofmann GmbH is helping to shape the plastics industry of the future.
Mr Hofmann, which particle foam materials can be processed with your BEAD.MACHINE?
Stefan Hofmann: Our moulding machine gets the best out of a wide range of materials: from EPP, EPA, E-TPU, EPS, EPE to m-PPE, lightweight end products with good shock absorption, insulating properties, energy absorption or high impact resistance can be produced as required. As an option, PP inlays can be encapsulated directly in the mould so that 2K products can be easily implemented. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for the sports and lifestyle, packaging or automotive sectors - with just one machine.
The BEAD.MACHINE can process a wide range of materials, including EPP, EPA, E-TPU, EPS, EPE and m-PPE. Copyright: Hofmann
Which technological innovations are decisive for the high product quality?
Hofmann: The basis for premium quality is our additively manufactured moulds, which are produced using 3D metal printing: Thanks to the invisible integration of the nozzle outlets into the mould, smooth surfaces suitable for visible areas are no problem. This means that previously unthinkable shapes and parts can be realised. A similar effect can only be achieved with conventional aluminium tools using expensive graining processes or laser ablation.
In addition, the secret of maximum dimensional accuracy lies in the technology of the BEAD.MACHINE: thanks to its electric spindle drive, it is probably the most accurately controllable particle foam moulding machine: High parallelism of the clamping plates and precise plate positioning of ± 0.01 mm ensure high-quality results. Adjustable travel dynamics, supplemented by any travel and embossing profiles, enable maximum customisation options with the best, consistent finish.
With the patented surface technology, fine details and detailed structures can be realised without visible nozzle outlets. Copyright: Hofmann
What new product possibilities and designs does the BEAD.MACHINE enable that were previously unrealisable in particle foam processing?
Hofmann: Thanks to the surface technology we have developed and patented, fine details and detailed structures can be realised without visible nozzle outlets. This enables our customers to realise high-quality products with interesting designs that were previously unthinkable. This innovation can be used to produce new creations and inspire end customers, particularly in the lifestyle sector. In this way, our technology can potentially give our customers a competitive edge.
This is particularly interesting in combination with plastic inlays: with the BEAD.MACHINE, these are easily encased in particle foam and firmly bonded to form a product. Our spiral ball demonstrator - developed jointly with WSVK Oederan GmbH – shows how dimensionally stable and flexible the result can be.
The spiral ball demonstrator was developed together with WSVK Oederan GmbH and shows how dimensionally stable and flexible the result can be. Copyright: Hofmann
How exactly does the machine contribute to environmentally friendly production?
Hofmann: Sustainability was particularly important to us when developing the BEAD.MACHINE: the machine is characterised by its low consumption of water, energy and compressed air. The 3D-printed moulds are up to 95% lighter than conventional alternatives and can therefore be heated and cooled much faster. The resulting reduced cycle time saves corresponding resources.
In addition, the high dimensional accuracy and reproducibility, combined with very stable cycles, tend to result in fewer rejects, which is reflected in lower material consumption – another plus point for the environment.
The machine is also sustainable in terms of transport: thanks to its compact footprint of approx. 5.8 m², the particle foam moulding machine fits on a normal truck. This not only simplifies logistics, but also saves CO2. A positive side effect is, of course, that it fits into small production halls and existing structures can therefore be optimally utilised.
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What customisation options does the BEAD.MACHINE offer?
Hofmann: The BEAD.MACHINE is available as part of a flexible system: The basis is always the moulding machine in combination with a specially developed filling container. Conveyor belts and customised automation solutions are available as options. Depending on their requirements, our customers can choose from various technologies such as handling systems, grippers or quality inspection technology, so that fully automated processes can be easily mapped. We have enough space to assemble and perfect turnkey solutions in-house according to our customers' process specifications and deliver them ready to use to the desired location worldwide. Of course, we also support our customers in mapping their processes with digital twins or simulations.
The BEAD.MACHINE is available as part of a flexible system: the basis is the moulding machine with a filling container. Customers can then choose from different technologies depending on their requirements. Copyright: Hofmann
What feedback have you received from your first customers?
Hofmann: As the BEAD.MACHINE is our first in-house product, we were naturally particularly excited about the feedback from our customers – we were all the more pleased to receive positive feedback. Our customers were particularly impressed by the flexibility of the machine and the quality of the end products. In fact, we have already received further enquiries and orders for BEAD.MACHINEs, which proves that we have hit a nerve in the market. One particular highlight was the positive feedback from Oechsler, which was published on their LinkedIn profile.
How do you see your role in the plastics industry of the future?
Hofmann: Basically, Siegfried Hofmann GmbH stands for innovative all-inclusive premium solutions in mould making and mechanical engineering with the best service, even after delivery. We don't leave our customers to fend for themselves, and this also applies to the ever-increasing demands in terms of sustainability. For example, we have been dealing with the issue of carbon footprint for a long time and are already listed on monitoring platforms such as Ecovadis and Integrity-Next to make it easier for our customers to fulfil legal or internal sustainability requirements. Sustainability combined with innovation and top quality – that is our goal.