20 April 2020

Rubber forming ensures higher cleanability and lower TCO

Phoenix 3D Metaal is going to make extra investments in marketing in the near future. The aim is to make the – still relatively unknown – metalworking process of rubber pad forming, in which the company specialises, more top of mind with engineers. The easy cleanability of the pressed metal parts will be given extra emphasis in the communication.


By Martin van Zaalen


Cleanability is one of the most important USPs of rubber forming. By definition, sheet metal produced in this way has corners with a fairly large radius and is therefore easy to clean. It is therefore not surprising that rubber forming specialist Phoenix 3D Metaal in Eindhoven has many customers in the food and medical technology sectors. It presses sheet parts for Romaco Kilian, a German manufacturer of pill production machines. And it supplies sheet metal to Pharmafilter, a producer of waste processing machines in hospitals, also precisely because its round shapes make it easy to keep clean, explains managing director Bernard van der Poel. “For hospitals, it is now more important than ever to keep everything they work with free of bacteria and viruses. And sheet metal should not have tight corners that are difficult to reach with cleaning agents.”



He wants to communicate this advantage of the still relatively unknown metalworking technology used by Phoenix more explicitly in the coming period. As Van der Poel knows, deep-drawing receives a lot of attention in technical education. This is a technology that requires a lower and an upper mould. In rubber forming, a lower mould is sufficient. A metal sheet is placed on top, which is then pressed into the mould by a powerful press with a large rubber block, he explains. “Many design and engineering offices do not include this technology in their design, simply because they are not familiar with it. So they are also unaware of the advantages of cleanability. These advantages translate into health safety and also into a lower tco due to lower cleaning costs. Also, our technology can be used to create round shapes that are more aesthetically pleasing. If an innovative device contains a lot of high-end technology, it must have that high-end look on the outside. Then you can charge the price it deserves. Also, the costs of rubber formwork are lower for small series because only one expensive mould is needed.”




Bernard van der Poel, in anticipation of a few months with declining sales, has already contacted his marketing agency to reposition the various USPs on the market. In particular, we could highlight the cleanability of our products more in our communication. Some extra marketing could be useful. Perhaps it is because many companies are now working remotely, but we have noticed that the number of requests and their quality has decreased somewhat. He has also noticed that orders are ‘deferred’. “Some customers have to hold back. Sometimes because they have supply problems that prevent them from continuing. But Lely, for instance, to whom we supply sheet metal for their scraper robots, has organised its supply chain very well and therefore expects little trouble in the short term. However, we also see parties whose deliveries are stagnating because installation at the end customer location is not possible at the moment.” Van der Poel is optimistic, however. “I think the ramp-up will be fairly quick for us. As soon as customers can start production again, they will come to us. After all, we are the only company in this part of Europe that can offer the advantages of rubber forming.”



At Phoenix, the production people, the planners and some of the engineers work on the premises. Many others work from home. Bernard van der Poel works partly from home and has mixed feelings about it. For initial talks with customers, at the start of projects, you have to be able to look each other in the eye and read each other’s body language. I also like to show customers our company, our production processes, precisely because these are often foreign to them. But if you have known each other for a long time and if you are further along in the process and it is mainly about coordinating current affairs, then the telephone or conference call is just as effective, while it saves travelling time. It is quite possible that in the future, especially in contact with the design agencies that employ many young people who make easier use of this digital communication, I will hold more remote meetings.’