Thermoforming Quarterly is a journal published quarterly by the Thermoforming Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers. The magazine is a great way to keep up with industry trends and developments. SPE Thermoforming Division members receive the magazine by mail four times a year. Non-members can access old issues here via PDF file. If you are not an SPE member this is a great reason to join! Become a member today to start receiving this valuable information in your mailbox.
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Second Quarter 2017
Volumetric Absorption Concept – Part 1, Model Building
by Jim Throne, Dunedin, FL
I lay the groundwork for a thorough comparison of radiopaque and volumetric absorbing heat transfer models. I define the technical models for thin-gauge thermoplastic sheet through what I have called the Lumped Parameter Model (LPM) where conduction through the plastic plays no role. And I define the radiopaque and volumetric absorbing models for thick-gauge thermoplastic sheet. I call these models the Distributed Parameter Models (DPM) where conduction plays an important role in energy transfer from sheet surface to core. This is preparatory to my solving the arithmetic for these models. In Part 2, I present solutions to the LPMs. In Part 3, I present solutions to the DPMs.
For some time now I have touted the importance of volumetric absorption of inbound radiant energy on the temperature profile in thermoformable plastic sheet (1,2,4-6). The source of this touting is far infrared spectra of thin films of common plastics. In doing so, I have raised the specter that the traditional model for predicting time-dependent temperature profiles is technically wrong. The reason behind this is that the arithmetic requires all thermal energy to the sheet is absorbed at the sheet surface. I’ve referred to this as the radiopaque model.
2017 North American Plastics Industry Study (NAPIS)
Published by Plante Moran, Cleveland, OH
Workforce productivity has risen to yet another 10-year high and continues to be a key driver of positive margins for processors. As a whole (not just the top performers), the plastics processors industry became more commercially disciplined, meaning that most processors stopped pursuing low margin work and/or shed unprofitable business.
Disciplined approaches to growth led to moderate but less significant increases in year-over-year sales for the average processor. Higher machine utilization and strong balance sheets suggest that many processors are being cautious with new capital spending and continue to work with existing machines.
Despite some of the positive trends, there are certain issues that are creating uncertainty that will play out over the course of 2017:
- The impact of foreign trade law changes under President Trump, especially as it relates to NAFTA.
- An expected continuation of rising interest rates.
- The strong U.S. dollar value is creating more pressure for global sourcing.
Our recommendation is to understand your company’s market position and to focus on your strengths to drive profitable growth. Staying focused on your top and bottom line can provide your best insulation from both the known and unknown challenges that lie ahead.
Full articles appears in print magazine mailed to members.