28 May 2019

A well-known rooflights manufacturer turned to Cannon Ergos to thermoform his domes, increasing productivity by 100%


Attics can be illuminated and ventilated by different types of rooflights: fixed, aerating, tubular, electric, ect. Among these, domes rooflights have a rounded shape, in order to limit the entry of direct sunlight and thus avoiding overheating.

This type of rooflight consists of a transparent or semi-transparent panel (satin, texturized…), generally made of polycarbonate or acrylic materials – transparent and very resistant – enclosed in a frame, which can be of wood, aluminium or plastic.

To create the typical bulge, the transparent panel is thermoformed using a mould or even only air pressure, so that the “bubble” which constitutes its shape is created. The thermoformed panel is then assembled with the frame.

Compared to the mould, pressure allows greater freedom in the variation of the dome curvature even during the rooflights production cycle.

A well-known European manufacturer of dome with pressure has thus turned to Cannon Ergos to meet its need of domes flexible production and increase of productivity.

open roof window, Skylight; Shutterstock ID 420132523; Purchase Order: maggio 2019; Job: cannon news; Client/Licensee: cannon

Customer needs

The customer wanted to replace his thermoforming machine, in operation for about 15 years, with one:

  • Faster and more efficient
  • Able to ensure absolute repeatability
  • Fully automated
  • Very flexible

The target was to increase the production and make it more constant, releasing it from the dependence on the machine operator. The thermoforming machine already in use, in fact, required the operator to know the “recipe” by heart in order to obtain rooflights of the required quality. In case of absence of the operator, the production could suffer serious slowdowns.

Furthermore, the thermoforming process is largely dependent on environmental conditions: external temperature and humidity can have a significant impact on the work of the machine and, consequently, on the final result. The customer, therefore, wanted a machine capable of automatically eliminating the effect of these perturbation on the finished product.


CREA: the Cannon solution

Cannon has responded to the specific requests of the customer by supplying a CREA series single station thermoforming machine with several advanced sensors and high level of automation: the machine is able to produce the finished piece without any operator intervention. Once the rooflights parameters are set, the machine thermoforms the finished piece, leaving the operator to load the panel to be thermoformed, supervise the processing cycle and unload the piece once it has cooled.

Moreover, thanks to the sensors installed on the thermoforming machine, the system is able to adapt automatically to variations in the environmental working conditions (external temperature and humidity), and to create the correct pressure to obtain the desired crowning.

This guarantees maximum repeatability and an always excellent quality of the finished product.

To heat the polycarbonate panel, Cannon Ergos has opted for infrared high-speed quartz lamps, more suitable to treat materials with very delicate aesthetic performances; the use of this type of lamps eliminates the risk of opacifying or damaging the material during the heating process.

The experience gained by Cannon Ergos in the field of thermoforming, has allowed the company to provide the customer with an exclusive model of CREA, specifically developed to meet the rooflights manufacturer request of greater flexibility: in order to shape domes of different sizes, even during the same production cycle, Cannon Ergos has created a double forming area allowing the simultaneous but independent shaping of two pieces characterized by different final product height and tool dimensions.

The basic configuration of the forming surface involves the use of automatic adjustable plates used to increase or decrease the area to be thermoformed. In this way it is possible to model pieces with dimensions between 1200×1000 mm and 3000×2500 mm when forming with a single window or even down to 550×1000 mm when forming in double window configuration.

A dedicated team has developed a specific software for the automation and control of the machine main components: simple and immediate, the touch screen user interface allows the customer to view each parameter of the thermoforming machine in maximum 3 clicks.

Through this software, the machine operator can:

  • Regulate the closing of the plates: during the same cycle, the customer can thus thermoform pieces with different sizes
  • Determine how much pressure must be exert on all parts of the panel: in this way it is possible to produce domes of different convexities at the same time
  • Regulate the power output of each individual lamp
  • Monitor in real time the performance of the thermoforming machine
  • Generate a report of each production cycle

In addition, the software allows remote access to the machine in order to make a preventive diagnosis in case of anomaly.

With Cannon Ergos CREA thermoforming machine with divisible plate, the customer can now produce up to 45 pieces per hour, working with a double forming, and 25 pieces per hour in a single forming, compared to the 14 pieces per hour produced with customer’s previous machinery.

With the double configuration provided by Cannon, the production capacity of the rooflights manufacturer is therefore increased of the 100%.