Molded pulp products are experiencing increased importance due to their environment-friendly characteristics with regards to both production and disposal. In this study, the thermoforming process for the production of molded pulp products was examined by means of two experimental campaigns, with the scope of distinguishing between the water removal due to only compression (better known as cold pressing) and the water removal under additional thermal conditions. The underlying multiphysics of the processes were identified by comparison with similar manufacturing processes found in available literature, and then implemented using a 1-dimensional finite element model in COMSOL software. This fast, simple model was able to predict the water removal for a specific set of process conditions and the results were supported by corresponding experimental observations. Within a process time of up to 15 s, temperatures ranging from 80 °C to 120 °C, and a final dryness between 40% and 65%, the simulations gave accurate estimates, with a difference in prediction down to 0.3%. The paper thus documents the first combined experimental-simulation study for thermoforming of molded pulp products.
- Molded pulp