By Liz White, editor
Düsseldorf, Germany - Cutting tool manufacturer Sitola GmbH & Co. KG has found a niche in polyurethane equipment and set out to fill it: design of new knives and wires for equipment for cutting and shaping rigid and flexible polyurethane foam.
Sitola has just moved into a new facility in its home town of Freudenberg, Germany, and also set up a new service department, specifically offering new controls for old cutting equipment, according to sales director Rüdiger Simon.
The small company has taken innovation into an area no one else waspaying much attention to, and is gaining a reputation for good cuttingtools for foam and other materials.
"Customers bring us asample of foam, rigid or flexible and say we have not the right resultafter cutting, it is too ragged …" he said, in an interview on thecompany's stand at the K2007 exhibition in Düsseldorf.
Sitolagets many requests to develop a knife to do the job. "Customers aresaying I have only the standard cutting tool here and it is not theright one," Simon said. Makers of cutting machinery have not reallyinvested in this area, he indicated.
The five-year-old company claims to have made some advances in cutting - utilising special steels for the carrier and cutting wires used for rigid foams, and developing novel tooth designs for saws, for example. It has also devised band saws for foam slitters, which it grinds down to leave no weld lines. Such lines produce marks on the extremely fine sheets of flexible foam produced by massive slitting machines used for foam, used typically in medical tapes and babies nappies. Foamers clearly want such problems eliminated, as they can thus cut the need for foam inspection and reduce scrap rates.
Simon's 20-employee company has just moved into its new 1750 sq.m plant, and set up the new unit offering service for all types of cutting equipment. A specific focus here is on adding new control systems to equipment where the original control has failed, often putting a perfectly functional cutting machine out of action.
"These units can have a life of 30 to 40 years," Simon said, "but after 25 years the control panels are obsolete, new parts are not available and you have to build a new panel."
"The machine itself is fine, all the mechanical parts work well and with a new control the cutter can continue working well for many years," he explained. "Effectively a new control panel gives you a new machine," but for the Euro 15 000 cost of the new control, rather than the Euro 60 000 or 70 000 that a new cutter might cost, he concluded.
Pic: Simon at K with one of the new ground band saws for slitting flexible foam rolls