Kiefel expands natural fibre expertise with new tech centre

Kiefel expands natural fibre expertise with new tech centre

German machinery firm Kiefel GmbH has opened a new Technology and Material Centre at its headquarters in Freilassing, Germany. Thereby the mechanical engineering company's is increasingly investing in its own research activities into sustainable packaging solutions with a focus on natural fibres. The company, which provides plastic thermoforming and joining technology, opened up the additional business area of "Fibre Thermoforming" internationally last year. In future, the centre will be used for material research and tests, as well as for sample production and machine demonstrations.

"The Packaging Technology Centre and the connected Material R&D Centre, deepen our materials expertise and allow us to support our customers even more closely in the development process for everything related with fiber materials, products and machines,” explains Matthias Hausmann, Head of Central Development. "We are thus consolidating our role as a holistic solutions provider." With this investment, Kiefel says it intends to develop and use even more sustainable technologies, processes and materials.

The Material R&D Centre is the starting point for product developments for customers. Here, Kiefel researches, analyses, and categorises various natural fibres and designs coating concepts for packaging made from natural fibres. These are then tested on pilot systems and optimised for the manufacturing process. The Material R&D Centre complements Kiefel's Applied Polymer Research Centre in the Netherlands, which focuses on materials research into recycled and bio-based plastics.

In the Packaging Technology Centre in Freilassing, Kiefel demonstrates its machine portfolio for the production of fibre packaging to its customers: The Natureprep KFP series for high quality stock preparation of natural fibre pulp and the Natureformer KFT series systems, on which various fibre products, e.g. bowls, cups, secondary packaging for electronics, coffee capsules or flower pots can be manufactured.

The company also tests tools on the systems, carries out machine tests and small batches of sample production. Prototype testing also takes place here. Hausmann adds: "With our concept we achieve solutions that are optimally tailored to our customer requirements from material to machine."

A sustainability exhibition is also integrated into the Packaging Technology Centre. Cornelia Frank, Head of Sustainability at Kiefel emphasises: "We have been involved in various initiatives for a number of years, for example helping improve plastics recyclability. As a mechanical engineering company, we want to actively take responsibility in order to become the leading solution provider for the development and implementation of the most sustainable technology.”

As part of its "Rethinking Concept", the aim is to rethink materials, machines, processes and products, to ultimately achieve the ideal, most sustainable design for the customers. This is the case, for example, if the end product can be easily recycled in the circular economy or can be biodegraded.

In addition to this, Kiefel says it has now set goals in order to holistically identify sustainability potential and utilise it efficiently.


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