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P.A.C.K. Flight Cases

How P.A.C.K. Flightcases provides the event industry with tailor-made transport packaging

Man-sized cases, ship’s chests, smaller and larger cases everywhere you look at P.A.C.K. Flightcases GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin. Deeply rooted in the event industry, the company has been building packaging for equipment in the show and event business for over 30 years – for lighting, cameras, screens, LED walls, loudspeaker boxes, cables, radios, microphones and much more. Initially, wood was the only material of choice, but this has changed since then. Especially for air transport, PVC hollow-chamber honeycomb panels are increasingly scoring points. Equipped with inlays made of Alveobloc slabstock foam from Sekisui that are adapted to the contours of the precious cargo, the equipment of the big bands, orchestras and shows arrives safely at its destination.

Text: Dipl.-Ing. Gabriele Rzepka, Editor K-PROFI

Client: P.A.C.K. Flight Cases
Ville: Berlin
Pays: Allemagne

The Berliners have been active in case construction for the event industry since 1987. First as a subsidiary of PAM Veranstaltungsgesellschaft, now as a separate company in which the two managing partners Holger Huth and Ruven Kempgen are rely at the helm. The affnity to the event industry is not only re ected in the product portfolio, but also in the location: since 2019, the packaging specialist has been producing on 1,000 m² of space in Pankow Park, the former site of the Bergmann-Borsig factory.

A microcosm of ist own

Where components for power plants were produced in GDR times, an event hot spot has developed today. The band Rammstein has its warehouse around the corner, the event technology company Black Box Music is right next door, and the Palastorchester is currently preparing for its next performance in the rehearsal rooms on the site. Ruven Kempgen explains: “We are very close to our customers here, have short distances and can react quickly to the needs of artists, tour entrepreneurs and event managers.” In keeping with this philosophy, the case builder delivers the lion's share of its products within Berlin and the surrounding area. “We are highly specialised,” Kempgen explains. “We share the business with a handful of case builders in Germany. They usually produce not only custom-made products, but also standard products. We, on the other hand, only produce one-offs.” Batch size 1 is not the exception for the Berliners, but often the rule. It does not go beyond batch size 50.

New CNC machine makes work easier

For each product, the specialists create an individual piece of packaging, adapted to the respective shape of the goods to be transported. If 3D models of the goods to be transported are available, Kempgen feeds them into the CAD software Solid Works. Often, however, they are not available. Kempgen smiles: “Then I measure by hand in a very old-school way and also transfer the measured values into the software by hand.” Based on this, the Berliners design the foam inlays that then line the inside of the case. When travelling by air, hollow-chamber PVC honeycomb panels are usually the material of choice. They are light, stable, and ame-retardant. P.A.C.K. processes panels with dimensions of 2,500 x 1,250 mm, which it splits in half with a separating cut before further processing. The thickness is 7 or 10 mm – depending on the weight of the transported goods. The new Rover Plast FT 1224 portal CNC machine from Biesse has been in use since 2020. The company has already been working with a Rover A 1332 ATF for wood processing from Biesse since 2012. According to Ruven Kempgen, one of the reasons for also relying on Biesse for plastics processing was: “We have had very good experience with the machine, and we can also use the same interface for transferring the data from the CAD programme for the new machine. The new Rover then runs the programme fully automatically. Especially the fact that we have the oscillating knife on the second Z-axis makes the work much easier.”

P.A.C.K. Flight Cases: Photo 1

The new machine scores with a liquid-cooled 13.2 kW 5-axis electric spindle. All spindles come from the Biesse subsidiary HSD. According to Biesse, the Rover Plast is the only machine type in series machine construction with a combination of 5-axis spindle and separately controllable cutter unit on a separate Z-axis carrier. The oscillating blade of the cutter unit enables the production of internal 90° edges. The blade with its 5,000 oscillations/min cuts foams, XPS, thin PET and of course the PVC twin-wall sheets with ease. The machine has a processing area of 2,400x1,200 mm and a processing height of 200 mm. While the machine for wood processing works with positionable suction cups to -fix the sheets, the workpiece is held by suction over the entire surface of the new machine. This is ensured by two large vacuum pumps. The workpiece is secured from the inside by a porous wooden panel and a fleece carpet on which it lies. Kempgen explains: “We can’t get very far with the positionable suction cups when processing slabstock foam, because the material would sag and be deformed by the suction cups. Before we had the new machine, we helped ourselves with self-designed support plates. The full-surface ¬ fixation on the vacuum table on the new Rover is really a blessing.” The machine can be walked on all around during operation. Bumpers are ¬fitted to each gantry, which cause the machine to stop when touched. A special restart process ensures that the machine continues the interrupted programme at the same point. When the new CNC gantry machine moved into P.A.C.K in 2020, the company worked hand in hand with Biesse to present the technology to other interested parties in the Berlin area. To this end, the company opened its doors for demo presentations so that potential buyers could see the machine's capabilities for themselves in advance. Ruven Kempgen looks back: “We were the first in our region to buy the machine for plastics processing. Since we have a very good relationship with Biesse, we were happy to agree to the proposal of demo presentations. It was interesting to see what is possible with the machine. We bene¬fited from that as well.

Case building live

A look into the production area allows live observation of case construction. A 7-mm twin-wall sheet is currently lying in the machine, which is being transformed in several steps into a case the size of a ship's chest. The plastic cases can carry around 300 kg. If the case needs to carry more weight, the Berliners resort to wood. After the board is cut to size, the individual parts go to the assembly department. Here, an employee cuts the 4 m long aluminium pro¬files to the size of the case. The all-round aluminium pro¬ les hold the cases in place and ensure stability. In this stage of production, the cases are punched, screwed, and riveted – all by hand. “The dimensions of each individual case are different. They depend on the goods being transported. And we then design the necessary inlays individually and precisely for each case,” explains Ruven Kempgen. CNC operator Maik Grebe, for example, is currently producing inlays for two screw clamps each. In future, they will find their place in a case together with a projector, cables and all the necessary connections. First the cutter unit cuts out the rectangular outer contour, then the gantry moves back and works out the inner contour with a 12 mm cutter. In the next step, a 6 mm milling cutter takes over the finishing touches and finalises the inlay.

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Especially the fact that we have the oscillating knife on the second Z-axis makes the work much easier.
Ruven Kempgen
Ruven Kempgen
P.A.C.K. Flight Cases: Photo 2

New for 2022: the Biesse Rover Plast FT 1224 portal CNC machine.

P.A.C.K. Flight Cases: Photo 3

The new machine produces inlays for two screw terminals each. First, the cutter unit cuts out the rectangular outer contour, then the milling cutters work out the inner contour.

P.A.C.K. Flight Cases: Photo 4

Black dominates with the cases, but special colors such as red or blue can also be realized in all imaginable sizes.

P.A.C.K. Flight Cases: Photo 5

Building sets and stages is a side business for P.A.C.K. Flight cases, which the company only does for its case customers.

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