LÖMI GmbH, Grossostheim, Germany, has announced an investment by Austria’s GAW Group, with the two companies forming a strategic partnership to strengthen the growth of LÖMI’s core business of Metal Injection Moulding and Ceramic Injection Moulding debinding systems, as well as broadening its business activities into the solvent based plastics circular flow economy.
LÖMI is widely considered one of the market leaders for MIM and CIM solvent debinding systems. Its customers include a number of leading MIM and CIM part manufacturers worldwide, for example in the automotive, aerospace, medical and watchmaking industries. Following GAW’s investment in the company, management of LÖMI continues to be under its founder José M Dias Fonseca and Christian Ferreira Marques, who continue to hold a substantial share in the company.
A key driver in GAW’s decision to invest in the company is said to be its development of a new technology, in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV) and a multinational company, capable of selectively solving multi-layer film plastics waste, for example from food packaging, in a non-destructive manner enabling all the contained plastic fractions (PE, PP, etc) to be separated, purified and tailored for subsequent processing in as-new quality.
Ferreira Marques told PIM International, “Due to the continuously increasing customer demand, our company’s turnover has steadily grown, in the last two years by 46 and 65%, respectively, as compared to the year before. Therefore, it was the next logical step for us to find a strategic partner to further our internationalisation and the expansion of our business activities.”
“It was important to us in our search that this partner is capable of supporting us in our long-term goals and that it shares our values such as reliability, innovativeness and cooperative relationships with our customers, staff members and suppliers. We are very pleased to have found the perfect partner with the family-operated GAW Group.”
“Research and development have always been a key aspect in manufacturing our systems since the formation of the company in 1991,” added Dias Fonseca. “It is our vision to create new and very promising technologies and to achieve their breakthrough. As an example, we have introduced our solvent debinding systems to the market in 2001, and within just a few years, we have become one of the world market leaders. Now we are ready for the next step with our systems for the plastics circular flow economy.”
Robert Assl-Pildner-Steinburg and Alexander Rinderhofer, GAW Group, stated, “The prospects of LÖMI are exceedingly positive: the PIM industry keeps on growing rapidly, in addition more and more PIM part producers are switching to the solvent debinding process. Furthermore, the demand for clean processes will increase over the course of the next few years due to tightened legislation regarding environmental protection and occupational health and safety. The high-quality recovery of plastic material is a social responsibility that GAW Group and LÖMI are glad to meet together now.”
With solvent debinding, many different kinds of feedstock can be processed by a large number of solvents. This enables part producers to test new feedstock or binder systems and to optimise their processes without becoming dependent on a single feedstock producer.
“Furthermore, our solvent debinding systems are very compact in their dimensions, and through their little wear and tear and low energy consumption, they are very economic in their operation,” commented Dias Fonseca. “The solvent is continuously reprocessed with a rate of up to 99% by a solvent recovery system and returned to the process in a closed system. This makes our systems very safe and environmentally beneficial.”
“Currently, many MIM and CIM part manufacturers are switching to the solvent debinding process,” continued Ferreira Marques. “For example, one single customer in the watchmaking industry operates fifteen of our systems, and the world’s largest PIM part producer uses thirty-six large-scale LÖMI plants so far.”
The company’s debinding systems are available from 15–1,200 l of batch loading volume and can be extended on a modular basis. The PLC-operated front loaders perform the drying of the parts directly after the debinding process, therefore saving one handling step of the parts, while a touch display shows real-time process parameters and facilitates process control. A large number of standardised part trays and mobile loading carts save time and costs while charging the systems.
LÖMI added that it continuously enhances its debinding systems in close cooperation with feedstock and part producers. For example, its debinding systems for CIM have been optimised with regard to the requirements of part manufacturers in the medical and watchmaking industries: in order to avoid an accumulation of superfine particles on the parts’ surfaces, the debinding process has been modified, and the loading mechanism for the part trays in the process chamber was replaced by an abrasion-free alternative. Also, to ensure that the oftentimes very small and lightweight parts stay in their places on the part trays during the process, a custom-designed filling process was installed.