The Niebling process:
in the forming of plastic films.
In 1989 Curt Niebling developed his process for the isostatic High Pressure Forming (HPF) of plastics. This “Niebling process” still sets standards today for processing plastic films and other thin-layer materials.
High-precision plastic formimg for high-end surfaces
The heart of the Niebling process is a non-contact heating system. It comprises heating modules with individual heating elements; the temperatures of the elements can be specifically adjusted. In this way a distinct temperature profile can be produced depending on the material and forming task.
During this process, unlike during thermoforming, the substrate is only heated to the “glass transition temperature” (e.g. polycarbonate: approx. 148° C), as result the material can be formed, but it is not melted.
Once placed in the form, the heated material is then formed using compressed air (forming pressures up to 300 bar). The result: low material stretching and minimal position tolerances for graphic motifs (depending on material and geometry 0.3 mm). At the same time, cycle times of 10 to 15 s can be achieved (Fully automatic PAMK systems).
The interaction of the heating system with a continuously pressure profile controller and ingenious, precise tool technology from our in-house tool making shop opens up for users completely new horizons in relation to quality, fields of application, material variety and productivity.
Discerning quality with large material thicknesses
Forming station – master form
The advantages of “isostatic” high pressure forming at a glance:
- Low material stretching
- Highest precision during the positioning of graphic motifs combined with reliable repeatability of the forming result
- Retention of gloss levels, surface structures and surface feel (e.g. on matt or textured films)
- Suitable also for large formats (up to 1,000 x 500 mm; forming height: up to 300 mm) and larger material thicknesses (up to 12 mm for polycarbonate)
- Large material variety: all common plastic films (e.g. PC, PMMA, ABS, PA) and also special materials such as PEEK, as well as metal films, wood veneers, leather materials and many more.
- Excellently suited to the forming of films with chemically-resistant and scratch-resistant surfaces or effect films (“high gloss”)
- Forming films with conductive structures (e.g. capacitive sensors)
- Few process steps, simple tool change, short downtimes