Quarterly Mags: 2007 1st

™
Non-Profit Org.

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SOCIETY OF
PLASTICS
ENGINEERS, INC

A JOURNAL OF THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS

P. O. Box 471
Lindale, Georgia 30147
CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

Our mission is to facilitate the advancement of thermoforming
technologies through education, application, promotion and research.
SPE National
Executive Director
Susan Oderwald
Direct Line: 203/740-5471
Fax: 203/775-8490
email: Seoderwald@4spe.org
Walt Walker
Prent Corporation
P. O. Box 471, 2225 Kennedy Road
Janesville, WI 53547-0471
(608) 754-0276 x4410 • Fax (608) 754-2410
wwalker@prent.com
Barry Shepherd
Shepherd Thermoforming & Packaging, Inc.
5 Abacus Road
Brampton, Ontario L6T 5B7 Canada
(905) 459-4545 x229 • Fax (905) 459-6746
bshep@shepherd.ca
Brian Ray
Ray Products
1700 Chablis Avenue
Ontario, CA 91761
(909) 390-9906 • Fax (909) 390-9984
brianr@rayplastics.com
Mike Sirotnak
Solar Products
228 Wanaque Avenue
Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442
(973) 248-9370 • Fax (973) 835-7856
msirotnak@solarproducts.com
Lola Carere
Thermopro, Inc.
2860 Preston Ridge Lane
Dacula, GA 30019
(770) 339-8744 • Fax (770) 339-4181
lcarere@bellsouth.net
CHAIR ELECT
TREASURER
SECRETARY
COUNCILOR WITH TERM
ENDING ANTEC 2009
Roger Kipp
McClarin Plastics
P. O. Box 486, 15 Industrial Drive
Hanover, PA 17331
(717) 637-2241 x4003 • Fax (717) 637-4811
rkipp@mcclarinplastics.com
PRIOR CHAIR
Executive
Committee
2007 – 2009
CHAIR
Conference Coordinator
Gwen Mathis
124 Avenue D, SE
Lindale, Georgia 30147-1027
706/235-9298 • Fax: 706/295-4276
email: gmathis224@aol.com
Website: http://www.4spe.org/communities/divisions/d25.php
or www.thermoformingdivision.com
Division
THERMOFORMING DIVISION HOTLINE 800-608-7542 Walt Walker, Chairman, Extension 4401# at Prent Corporation
2007 – 2009 THERMOFORMING DIVISION ORGANIZATIONAL CHART
Barry Shepherd
MinneapolisWalt Speck
A JOURNAL OF THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS
“WINNER 2003, 2004 & 2005 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE”
™
Industry Spotlight …
Universal Plastics: Accepting the ChallengeIndustry Spotlight …
Universal Plastics: Accepting the Challenge
FIRST QUARTER 2007, VOLUME 26, NUMBER 1FIRST QUARTER 2007, VOLUME 26, NUMBER 1

1 Thermoforming QUARTERLY
Contents
Thermoforming®
Q U A R T E R L Y
A NOTE TO
PROSPECTIVE
AUTHORS
TFQ is an “equal opportunity”
publisher! You will note that we have
several categories of technical articles,
ranging from the super-high tech
(sometimes with equations!), to
industry practice articles, to book
reviews, how to articles, tutorial
articles, and so on. Got an article that
doesn’t seem to fit in these categories?
Send it to Barry Shepherd, Technical
Editor, anyway. He’ll fit it in! He
promises. [By the way, if you are
submitting an article, Barry would
appreciate it on CD-ROM in DOC
format. All graphs and photos should
be black and white and of sufficient
size and contrast to be scannable.
Thanks.]
QUARTERLY
A JOURNAL PUBLISHED EACH CALENDAR
QUARTER BY THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION
OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS
Editor
Gwen Mathis
(706) 235-9298 • Fax (706) 295-4276
gmathis224@aol.com
Technical Editor
Barry Shepherd
Shepherd Thermoforming &
Packaging, Inc.
5 Abacus Road
Brampton, Ontario L6T 5B7
CANADA
(905) 459-4545 Ext. 229
Fax (905) 459-6746
bshep@shepherd.ca
Sponsorships
Laura Pichon
(847) 829-8124
Fax (815) 678-4248
lpichon@extechplastics.com
Thermoforming Quarterly® is published four times annually
as an informational and educational bulletin
to the members of the Society of Plastics
Engineers, Thermoforming Division, and the
thermoforming industry. The name, “Thermoforming
Quarterly®” and its logotype, are registered trademarks
of the Thermoforming Division of the Society
of Plastics Engineers, Inc. No part of this publication
may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without prior written permission of the publisher,
copyright holder. Opinions of the authors are their
own, and the publishers cannot be held responsible
for opinions or representations of any unsolicited
material. Printed in the U.S.A.
Thermoforming Quarterly® is registered in the US
Patent and Trademark Office (Registration no.
2,229,747).
These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY
TECHNICAL SECTION
Chairman’s Corner ………………………………………………………… Inside Front Cover
Membership ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
New Members ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
Spring Board Meeting Schedule ……………………………………………………………… 4
Thermoformer of the Year 2008 Criteria …………………………………………………. 6
Thermoformer of the Year 2008 Application …………………………………………… 7
2007 Parts Competition Announcement ……………………………………………….. 24
Industrial Thermoforming Symposium & Workshop ………………………………. 24
2007 Thermoforming Exhibits for Cincinnati …………………………………………. 25
Membership Application ……………………………………………………………………… 29
Index of Sponsors ………………………………………………………………………………… 32
Board of Directors List ……………………………………………………. Inside Back Cover
Spotlight on Industry
Universal Plastics: Accepting the Challenge………………………………………………………….. 8
Comments from the Technical Editor
Barry Shepherd ………………………………………………………………………………………………….11
History of Thermoforming, Part 5
The Golden Age of Thermoforming ……………………………………………………………………13
Thermoforming 101:
Process – Cycle Time …………………………………………………………………………………………..19
DIVISION ACTIVITIES
Thermoforming®
. Outstanding for ABS, PC/ABS, PVC and HIPS
.Weatherable and easy to fabricate
. Excellent gloss control – from flat matte to
ultra high gloss
. Chemical- , scratch- and UV-resistant
. Available in metallic, clear or any color
www.solarkote.com
Phone: 215.419.7982
Fax: 215.419.5512
E-mail:
andrew.horvath@altuglasint.com
Acrylic Capstock and Film
Capstock solutions for thermoformed sheet.
Altuglas® and Solarkote® are registered trademarks
belonging to Arkema.
© 2005 Arkema Inc. All rights reserved.

MEMBERSHIP

BY CONOR CARLIN, MEMBERSHIP CHAIRMAN

Out With the Old, In With the New

A
A
s we look back on
2006, we have an
opportunity to reflect on
the past twelve months. In
talking to thermoformers
around the country, all
indicators show that our
industry is enjoying robust
growth. It appears that the
changes made during the
lean years at the start of the
decade have paid off.
Profits are up and
reinvestment in the sector
is underway.

Plastics industry
publications usually feature
dire news about plant
closings or toolmakers
going out of business,
mainly in the large and
diversified injection
molding sector. Our
segment, however,
continues to grow as
companies increase market
share and compete more
effectively with alternative
techniques. Bolstered by
new technologies,
especially in the heavygauge
business,
thermoformers are making
the investments needed to
keep pace with today’s
changing market.

Signs of encouragement
and growth are all around
us. From new package
designs on store shelves to
innovative products in
diversified markets,
thermoforming is clearly an
integral part of the
consumer culture. In fact,
several parts that were
highlighted at the Nashville
Parts Competition can now
be seen on television
commercials.

The fact that
thermoformed products are
so important in today’s
economy really highlights
the need to stay informed.
New developments in
materials, new machine
designs and new tooling
techniques all combine to
improve the quality of the

goods and services
provided by the thermoforming
community. Our
division plays a crucial role
in that it provides an arena
in which many of these
evolutions can be seen and
understood before they hit
the market.

2007 is shaping up to be a
great year. The SPE board is
already building a strong
technical program for the
Cincinnati Conference. If
you have suggestions or
comments on something
you would like to see,
please contact us. Also,
please remember to
sponsor a new member this
coming year. This
organization derives
strength from its
membership and your
participation is paramount
to our success. ¦

Questions?
Comments?
Contact me at
conorc@stopol.com.

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 2

WELCOME, NEW MEMBERS!

Maxime Boissy – 254014

Camoplast Inc Fibrex
Division
3155 Boulevard Des
Entrepreises
Terrebonne, QC J6X 4J9
Canada

David J. Clark – 259490

Par-Pak Europe Ltd
37-39 Burners Lane
Kiln Farm
Milton Keynes, Bucks
MK11 3HA
United Kingdom

Charles H. Crowell 221501

Ray Products
1700 Chablis Avenue
Ontario, CA 91761

Nicolas S. Cruz – 259565

3035 Stevens Ave
Parsons, KS 67357

Martin Gibler – 224830

Stress Engineering
5380 Courseview Drive
Mason, OH 45040

Jeffrey A. Murray 228340

82 Gibson St
North East, PA 16428

Dan Rossi – 259548

Gros Plastics Recruiters
13 Ridge Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Eric Fiset – 259260

Plastique Tilton Inc
175 Rue Des Grands –
Lacs
St Augustin De
Desmaures, QC G3A 2KB
Canada

Fred J. Giordano 259415

W L Gore & Associates
401 Airport Rd
Elkton, MD 21921

Jason A. Jernigan 255893

ImagePoint Inc
7430 Industrial Rd
Florence, KY 41042

Stephen B. Konrad 259273

Indepak
2136 NE 194th
Portland, OR 97230

Tricia McKnight – 247193

Society of Plastics
Engineers
14 Fairfield Drive
Brookfield, CT 06804

Francisco Molina 259441

Thermo King Arecibo PR
Call Box 144060
Arecibo, PR 00614-4060

Wayne R. Smith – 242364

Fabri-Kal Corporation
600 Plastics Place
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Bill Sparling – 259299

Power Packaging
101-917 Cliveden Ave
Delta, BR V3M 5R6
Canada

David R. Zuehlke 259311

Sub-Zero Freezer
Company
4717 Hammersley Road
Madison, WI 53711

WHY JOIN?

It has never been more important to be a member of your professional society
than now, in the current climate of change and volatility in the plastics
industry. Now, more than ever, the information you access and the personal
networks you create can and will directly impact your future and your career.

Active membership in SPE:

• keeps you current
• keeps you informed
• keeps you connected
The question really
isn’t “why join?” but …

WHY NOT?

3 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMING DIVISION

SPRING BOARD
MEETING SCHEDULE

May 16th – 20th, 2007

Flamingo Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

**Rooms have been reserved in our block
starting Tuesday, 5/15/07, departing on
Sunday, 5/20/07. These rooms are limited, so
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE:

FOR RESERVATIONS, CALL: 1-800-8355686
– REQUEST SPE ROOM RATE OF
$119.00 OR GROUP CODE SFSPE7.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Executive Committee Arrives

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

7:30 – 8:30 am – Breakfast – Executive
Committee, Conference Suite A
8:30 am – 5:00 pm – Executive Committee
Meeting, Conference Suite A
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch – Executive
Committee, Conference Suite A
2:00 – 3:00 pm – Finance Committee
Chairman, Conference Suite A
4:00 – 5:00 pm – Technical Chairs meet with
Executive Committee, Conference Suite
A
Thursday, May 17th, 2007

8:30 – 10:30 am – Materials Committee
Breakfast, Conference Suite A
8:30 – 10:30 am – Processing Committee
Breakfast, Conference Suite B
8:30 – 10:30 am – Processing Committee
Breakfast, Conference Suite C
10:30 – 11:15 am – AARC Committee,
Carson City 1
11:15 am – 12:00 pm – Web Site Committee,
Carson City 1
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm – LUNCH ON YOUR
OWN
1:30 – 2:30 pm – Student Programs, Carson
City 1
2:30 – 3:00 pm – Recognition, Carson City 1
2:30 – 3:30 pm – 2007 Conference
Committee, Carson City 1
3:30 – 4:15 pm – Marketing Committee,
Carson City 1
4:00 – 5:00 pm – Membership Committee,
Carson City 1
Friday, May 18th, 2007

7:30 – 8:30 am – Breakfast – Board of
Directors, Laughlin III
8:30 am – 12:00 pm – Board of Directors’
Meeting, Laughlin III
12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch – Board of
Directors, Laughlin III
AFTERNOON ON YOUR OWN

6:00 – 7:00 pm – Hosted Cocktail Party
DINNER ON YOUR OWN

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

DAY ON YOUR OWN

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Depart

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 4

Need help
with your

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Save time and money on
your thermoform molds

When you use Alcoa 6013-T651 Power Plate™ aluminum
versus 6061, you’ll experience:

¦
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¦
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¦
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¦
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¦
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We will work with your machine shops so you can realize the
time and cost savings that will help you move ahead of the
competition.

technical school

or college

expenses?

I
I
f you or someone you
know is working towards
a career in the plastic
industry, let the SPE
Thermoforming Division
help support those education
goals.

Our mission is to facilitate
the advancement of
thermoforming technologies
through education, application,
promotion, and research.
Within this past year alone, our
organization has awarded
multiple scholarships! Get
involved and take advantage of
available support from your
plastic industry!

Start by completing the
application forms at
www.thermoformingdivision.com
or at www.4spe.com. The
deadline for applications is
January 15th, 2008. ¦

TK
Or contact John Perryman at (248) 233-5725,
e-mail: jperryman@tkmna.thyssenkrupp.com

6013-T651 Power Plate™ is distributed by:

ThyssenKrupp Materials NA

Copper and Brass Sales Division

A ThyssenKrupp Services company

ThyssenKrupp Materials NA, Inc. — AIN Plastics, Copper and Brass Sales, Ken-Mac Metals, TMX Aerospace,
ThyssenKrupp Steel Services, ThyssenKrupp Hearn, TKX Logistics

5 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR
CRITERIA FOR 2008

E
E
very year The SPE Thermoforming
Division selects a individual
who has made a outstanding
contribution to our industry and
awards them the Thermoformer of
the Year award.

The award in the past has gone
to industry pioneers like Bo Stratton
and Sam Shapiro, who were among
the first to found thermoforming
companies and develop our industry.
We have included machine designers
and builders Gaylord Brown
and Robert Butzko and toolmaker
John Greip, individuals who helped
develop the equipment and mold
ideas we all use today. We have
also honored engineers like Lew
Blanchard and Stephen Sweig, who
developed and patented new methods
of thermoforming. Additionally,
we have featured educators like Bill
McConnell, Jim Throne and
Herman R. Osmers, who have both
spread the word and were key figures
in founding the Thermoforming
Division.

We’re looking for more individuals
like these and we’re turning to
the Thermoforming community to
find them. Requirements would include
several of the following:

.Founder or Owner of a
Thermoforming Company
.Patents Developed
.Is currently active in or recently
retired from the Thermoforming
Industry
.Is a Processor – or capable of
processing
.Someone who developed new
markets for or started a new
trend or style of Thermoforming
.Significant contributions to the
work of the Thermoforming
Division Board of Directors
.Has made a significant educational
contribution to the
Thermoforming Industry.
If you would like to bring someone
who meets some or all of these
requirements to the attention of the
Thermoforming Division, please fill
out a nomination form and a oneto
two-page biography and forward
it to:

Thermoforming Division Awards

Committee

% Productive Plastics, Inc.

Hal Gilham

103 West Park Drive

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08045

Tel: 856-778-4300

Fax: 856-234-3310

Email:
halg@productiveplastics.com

You can also find the form and see all the past
winners at www.thermoformingdivision.com in
the Thermoformer of the Year section.

You can submit nominations and bios at any time
but please keep in mind our deadline for
submissions is no later than December 1st of
each year, so nominations received after that
time will go forward to the next year.

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 6

Thermoformers of the Year …

1982

William K. McConnell, Jr.
McConnell Company

1983

E. Bowman Stratton, Jr.
Auto-Vac Corp.
1984

Gaylord Brown, Brown Machine

1985

Robert L. Butzko

Thermtrol Corp.

1986

George Wiss, Plastofilm Industries

1987

Dr. Herman R. Osmers

Educator & Consultant

1988

Robert Kittridge
Fabri-Kal Corporation

1989

Jack Pregont, Prent Corporation

1990

Ripley W. Gage, Gage Industries

1991

Stanley Rosen
Mold Systems Corp.

1992

Samuel Shapiro
Maryland Cup
Sweetheart Plastics

1993

John Grundy, Profile Plastics

1994

R. Lewis Blanchard
Dow Chemical
1995

James L. Blin, Triangle Plastics

1996

John Griep
Portage Casting & Mold

1997

John S. Hopple, Hopple Plastics

1998

Lyle Shuert, Shuert Industries

1999

Art Buckel, McConnell Company

2000

Dr. James Throne
Sherwood Technologies

2001

Joseph Pregont, Prent Corp.

2002

Stephen Sweig, Profile Plastics

2003

William Benjamin
Benjamin Mfg.

2004

Steve Hasselbach, CMI Plastics

2005

Manfred Jacob
Jacob Kunststofftechnik

2006

Paul Alongi, MAAC Machinery

THERMOFORMER OF
THE YEAR 2008

Presented at the September 2008 Thermoforming Conference in Minneapolis, MN

The Awards Committee is now accepting nominations for the 2008
THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR. Please help us by identifying worthy candidates.
This prestigious honor will be awarded to a member of our industry that has made
a significant contribution to the Thermoforming Industry in a Technical, Educational,
or Management aspect of Thermoforming. Nominees will be evaluated
and voted on by the Thermoforming Board of Directors at the Winter 2008 meeting.
The deadline for submitting nominations is December 1st, 2007. Please complete
the form below and include all biographical information.

Person Nominated: _______________________________________ Title: _____________________
Firm or Institution: _________________________________________________________________
Street Address: _____________________________ City, State, Zip: ________________________
Telephone: _________________ Fax: _________________________ E-mail: _________________

Biographical Information:

•
Nominee’s Experience in the Thermoforming Industry.
•
Nominee’s Education (include degrees, year granted, name and location of
university)
•
Prior corporate or academic affiliations (include company and/or institutions,
title, and approximate dates of affiliations)
•
Professional society affiliations
•
Professional honors and awards.
•
Publications and patents (please attach list).
•
Evaluation of the effect of this individual’s achievement on technology and
progress of the plastics industry. (To support nomination, attach substantial
documentation of these achievements.)
•
Other significant accomplishments in the field of plastics.
•
Professional achievements in plastics (summarize specific achievements upon
which this nomination is based on a separate sheet).
Individual Submitting Nomination: _______________________ Title: _____________________
Firm or Institution: _________________________________________________________________
Address: ____________________________________ City, State, Zip: ________________________
Phone: ____________________ Fax: _________________________ E-mail: _________________

Signature: ______________________________________ Date: ____________________
(ALL NOMINATIONS MUST BE SIGNED)

Please submit all nominations to: Hal Gilham,
Productive Plastics, 103 West Park Drive
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey 08045

7 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

This article space in the Thermoforming
Quarterly alternates each year between
roll-fed formers and cut-sheet formers. The
This article space in the Thermoforming
Quarterly alternates each year between
roll-fed formers and cut-sheet formers. The
SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY

THERMOFORMING AT UNIVERSAL PLASTICS:
ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE MEANT ADDING
THIN-GAUGE PROCESSING

BY JOE PETERS, UNIVERSAL PLASTICS

Thermoforming Division Conference each year
divides its program the same way between thingauge
and heavy-gauge. At Universal Plastics they
certainly get their money’s worth out of those
articles and conferences because they employ both
processes in their plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
In order to satisfy as

represented most of
many customer

their output. These

Universal has adopted the motto “We Accept the

were days beforeneeds as possible,

Challenge” and living up to that motto has lead them to

CNC routers and allUniversal added

making the cooling ducts for the guidance system for the

of the closeroll-fed thermo

space shuttle, kayaks from recycled detergent bottles, the

tolerance cutoutsforming several

bows for the super secret (not any longer) submarine used

and trimming wereyears ago.

by the Navy Seals and the bus stop signs for New York

done on elaborate
had its beginning in City. The company has a reputation for getting the job routing fixtures

The company

1966 when James done and has some great employees who make it happen. using templates and
Peters took his 12

guide bushings in
years of experience and built his first two heavy

the router plate. They learned enough about
gauge forming machines from the ground up and

repairing router fixtures from those years that when
started forming tote boxes for many of the heavy

they saw their first Thermwood CNC router in the
manufac-turers in New England in the sixties. The

early 1980’s – they bought it on the spot. Looking
business evolved through the years and with the

back now it’s amazing how almost none of those
advent of the computer age and the development

big names in the computer industry are even
of the Route 128 computer corridor near Boston

around today. It’s not surprising that Universal has
with its big names from Digital, Raytheon and

had to adapt to its changing market.
Data General to Wang, Compugraphics, Polaroid

Universal has adopted the motto “We Accept
and Prime. In those days CRT housings and bezels,

the Challenge” and living up to that motto has lead
keyboard enclosures and circuit board trays

them to making the cooling ducts for the guidance

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 8

system for the space shuttle, kayaks from recycled
detergent bottles, the bows for the super secret (not
any longer) submarine used by the Navy Seals and
the bus stop signs for New York City. The company
has a reputation for getting the job done and has
some great employees who make it happen.

As a custom manufacturer, you have to adapt
and Universal saw opportunity in the jewelry,
cosmetics and POP fields for packages, trays and
displays. The journey into thin-gauge
thermoforming began with a salesmen bringing
in a shallow thin-gauge formed cup that was die
cut with a small flange. The customer had a
number of labor steps to transform the cup into a
satin- covered stand for a bracelet in an injection
molded box. This customer bought 3 million of

these a year! Universal was accustomed to 250and
500-piece orders so this number got their
attention. After much thought the designers were
able to propose an idea that eliminated many of
the labor operations. The problem was they would
be forming the part on a 64 impression mold on a
heavy-gauge machine at rate of about 25 blanks
per hour. At this rate it would take 3 people
working full time to make 3 million pieces a year.

They decided to buy a small roll-fed machine
and after setup and some training, one person could
run a year’s worth of product in 6 months. Now
they had to keep the machine busy the other six
months. New business soon appeared and they
now have two Sencorp 2500 in-line formers to
complement the heavy-gauge business consisting
of 12 vacuum and pressure forming machines
which include two rotaries and twin-sheet
capability. The largest press is a double-ender
boasting a 6′ x 16′ capacity.

Currently thin-gauge work represents about
20% of sales and has been growing steadily. Many
similarities exist but there are also some dramatic
differences between the two processes. Most
dramatic is the competitiveness of the thin-gauge
work. With thin-gauge, jobs are won and lost by
fractions of pennies per part. If you are $0.002 too

(continued on next page)

9 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

high – sorry!! In thin-gauge, inches add up quick.
Estimating a job that ends up with 1/2″ longer
index than planned can have a dramatic effect on
the bottom line – not to mention the rolls of
material that you can end up short at the end of a
job.

An area of similarity that has become more true
in both areas of the business is the need to be in
sync with your customer’s needs. Universal finds
they are working harder and harder to run ahead
of their customers. They have to keep more
inventory on hand, whether it is raw material or
finished goods. They also have worked to reduce
set-up times and reduce turnaround time. They use
3D CAD and are able to machine some molds inhouse,
especially when customers require shorter
then normal deliveries (sound familiar?).

While this journey for Universal Plastics was
into the world of “Thin,” they still find that they
are immersed in the world of “Lean.” The year
2007 will be an especially taxing one for the 85
employees at Universal Plastics as they will all be
more intensely trained in “lean manufacturing.”
The company was treated to a taste of lean
manufacturing through a training grant from the
State of Massachusetts in 2002 which gave them
exposure to many of the benefits.

In 2003 the factory moved out of a late 19th
century mill building where they occupied 100,000
sq. ft. on three floors into a new facility with 75,000

sq. ft. on one floor. It’s taken a couple of years to
get settled in but now they are ready to take on
“lean.” The next time we read about Universal
Plastics perhaps we will learn how they became
“lean” as well as “thin.” ¦

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 10

COMMENTS FROM THE TECHNICAL EDITOR

BY BARRY SHEPHERD

Newsletter History

The Thermoforming Division has been publishing this
newsletter for over 30 years. Bill McConnell, our longest
serving Board member, started it in the early 70’s and Gwen
Mathis, our Division Coordinator, took over as Editor in 1981.
Dr. Jim Throne took on the job of Technical Editor in 1998
until this year, a period in which we saw the Quarterly
develop into the award-winning publication that we know
today.

Jim Throne provided technical content for more than 32
volumes including 140 technical articles and 26 book reviews.
His “Thermoforming 101” collection of thermoforming basics
is a must for every plant library. I am excited about continuing
to write these articles from a slightly different perspective.
Jim has decided to move on to other things and I have taken
on the daunting task of carrying on as the Technical Editor
for this Quarterly. Gwen Mathis remains as Editor, a job which
she has enjoyed for over 25 years and for which I am most
thankful.

The Thermoforming Quarterly has not won all these awards
over all the other SPE newsletters without a great deal of hard
work and dedication. Meeting time lines, finding articles,
copywriting and proofreading for a publication that
sometimes consists of over 40 pages takes effort and the
responsibility for bringing it all together 4 times a year falls
on Gwen’s shoulders.

Content and Format

As for the content of future technical articles, I want to
repeat what I told the Board when I accepted this challenge.
Thermoforming has been my life and my family’s life for 22
years. Our Chairman, Walt Walker, sensed the passion that I
have for this industry when he agreed to let me take it on and
I hope that this passion will become evident in the technical
content of future Quarterly’s.

I would like to continue providing articles that contain new
and useful information for the most knowledgeable readers
but I also hope to add my own flavor to these articles that
will connect the theory to a real practical application. My
experience with building our custom thermoforming business
has exposed me to many technical problems so I hope to be
able to contribute some personal comment. Having said this
I am aware that there is a great deal of innovative work going
on in operations and institutions throughout the world by
individuals who are dedicated to a specific product or process
related to thermoforming. These operations have money, time
and highly skilled people that are doing things that will help
take our industry to new levels. Therefore I will endeavor to
solicit opinions from others on articles that contain
information beyond my scope of expertise.

I see no reason to alter the format to any great extent. I do
hope to maintain the Lead Articles, Industry Practice articles
and Thermoforming 101 articles. Dr. Throne has reviewed a
lot of books over the years and I am not sure there are any
more that could be considered Thermoforming related.
However, I would welcome the opportunity to comment on
any new industry related publications.

Some Personal Goals

As a personal project, I want to produce “A Reference Guide
to Advanced Thermoforming” using the technical articles that
have appeared in this Quarterly over the past 10 years. It will
take some time to categorize the information to allow quick
reference by industry engineers and practitioners to help solve
problems or improve quality or maximize efficiency. As new
articles are published they will be added to the Guide. It will
be available to SPE members in the electronic format via the
Division website.

My hope is to expand the “Industry Practice” segments to
look at how current trends and issues are affecting the way
we run our thermoforming companies. For example, how will
Walmart’s goal to reduce packaging 5% by 2010 affect
designers and producers of thermoformed packaging? Also
current trends to global sourcing and the depressed state of
North American automotive manufacturing have direct affects
on our industry. On the surface these issues would appear to
have a negative impact on our industry; however, as
thermoformers, we are known for our ability to adapt to
change quicker than other processes. If we are aware of the
issues and open our minds to our options we can create
opportunities for our companies.

Finally, I will be working to find ways to combine our efforts
here in North America with those in Europe to benefit our
industry on a more global stage. This is a personal goal but I
see several indicators that suggest we must do this. The SPE
magazine Plastic Engineering is combining with its European
counterpart starting in January 2007. The North American
and European Thermoforming Divisions now take part in each
other’s conference and of course globalization in general is
making it necessary for all of us to be aware of competitive
pressures in other countries. The Quarterly and the European
Thermoforming newsletter must collaborate to become the
vehicle for sharing ideas across the Atlantic.

It is with some apprehension that I take on this
responsibility after so many years in the hands of such an
industry authority; however, I look forward to it with
anticipation. I am proud of the Quarterly and eager to help
Gwen and the Board maintain its award-winning record. ¦

11 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

MARK
YOUR
CALENDAR!!!

The Thermoforming
Board of Directors has
taken your advise
from completing the
surveys and beginning
in 2008 we will be
going back to our old
dates –

DATES:

Saturday,
September 20th, 2008
thru
Tuesday,
September 23rd,
2008

MINNEAPOLIS
CONVENTION CENTER

HEADQUARTER HOTEL:
MINNEAPOLIS HILTON
& TOWERS

2008 Chairman:
Dennis Northrop
Avery Dennison
Performance Films

Cut Sheet Chairman:
Jim Armor
Armor & Associates

Roll Fed Chairman:
Phil Barhouse
Creative Forming

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 12

HISTORY OF THERMOFORMING – PART 5

The Golden Age of Thermoforming

BY STANLEY R. ROSEN, PLASTIMACH CORPORATION, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

T
T
he First National Plastics Exposition was held at
the Grand Central Palace, New York City, from April
22nd through the 27th, 1946 in conjunction with the S.P.I.
Spring Conference with a record assembly of 83,100
attendees. Much vitality and optimism flowed from those
attending the show which was evident from their enthu

siastic faces in this photo (Fig. 3-1.) World War II was
Fig. 3-1. First NPE Plastics show in New York City, 1946.
over and many in the crowd were discharged veterans
anxious to enter and embark on a new career. Visitors to
the show were intrigued by seeing operating equipment,
displays of new products and processes created from the
plastics resins. Critics of the show complained that more
than half of the visitors were not from the “trade” but
were only “ interested spectators.” How shortsighted it
was to throw cold water at prospective plastics industry
participants!

Many in attendance were the children of the depression
era whose parents’ dreams and ambitions were
quashed during those harsh economic times. This new
generation of prospective businessmen, technicians and

Ed. Note I: The philosopher Santana said, “Those who cannot remember
the past are destined to repeat it.” Stan Rosen, our
Thermoformer of the Year in 1991, is undertaking this project to
document the industry starting with early developments in the
1930’s. His first article (Part I) appeared in Volume 24, Issue #3.
This is the fifth in his series entitled “The Golden Age of
Thermoforming,” the second half of which will appear in the next
Quarterly issue.

engineers with confidence in themselves and the
economy visualized a bright future. Assistance came
from Congress with the passage of the GI Bill of Rights
which covered all of the expenses of any veteran interested
in pursuing a career as a technician or attaining a
university degree (which included this grateful author).
A pool of educated and confident entrepreneurs was created
at the same time evolving plastic processes permitted
many entry points into the industry.

Injection molding in 1946 was the leading process of
choice in which resin was converted into a saleable product.
Equipment and molds for injection molding are expensive
and the lead time for their procurement is quite
lengthy. The high cost was amortized for large quantities
of items, but smaller amounts often were priced-out
by metallic alternatives. Large injection molded parts
require high tonnage presses with huge area platens
which limited their adoption for big components. Unfortunately,
the cure for this dilemma of producing small
quantities of large parts was soon heralded as “Vacuum
Forming – the poor man’s injection molding.”

The deceptive slogan and attitude was further conveyed
to the design of equipment and molds which emphasized
cost rather than improving existing technology.
A low dollar price was highlighted in the machinery
brochures and press releases. Component suppliers
of radiant heaters and vacuum pumps offered free machine
drawings to “do it yourself vacuum forming machine
builders” (Fig. 3-2). This mindset also permeated

Fig. 3-2. Receive a set of free drawings to build a vacuum
former when purchasing a heater, 1954.

(continued on next page)

13 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

early marketing tactics and was used to garner
thermoforming orders which often resulted in inconsistent
part quality and disappointed customers.

At the Packaging Institute Annual Forum October
1954 in New York City, C. W. Harper of retailer Sears
Roebuck blasted the poor quality and reliability of his
thermoforming supplier’s performance. His kindest remarks
included comments concerning peddling of inferior
products, charging what the market would bear and
that unqualified people were crowding to get into a good
thing. This disappointed purchasing agent was the largest
thermoforming buyer of his time so these arguments
had the power to make the industry sit up and take notice.
Eventually the thermoformers modified their sales
strategies and sold their strengths- rapid tool scheduling
and tightened control of the process. Product designers
were then induced to accept the physical limitations of
designing a thermoforming part and to circumvent these
restraints.

Thermoformed components produced earlier than
1950 were formed on proprietary machinery as no commercial
equipment was available for sale. These pioneering
thermoforming firms had differing objectives and
had to develop equipment that was specific to their own
needs.

Gustave W. Borkland, an inventor and founder of
Borkland Laboratories, Marion, Indiana, filed for his first
plastic sheet forming patent in 1941 and was awarded a
number of other vacuum forming patents during the
1940s. He produced and formed parts using both mechanical
deep drawing methods as well as manufacturing
his advertised “Suction forming machines” (Fig.
3-3). This equipment was originally available by license
only, with none being sold outright until competing com-

Fig. 3-3. Borkland Lab’s “suction forming machine,” 1955.

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 14

mercial vacuum forming machinery caused a change in
his policy.

Plaxall Corp. (Div. Design Center), founded by
Louis Pfohl, utilized the experience gained from the
design of his roll fed mechanical deep drawing equipment
(1940s) to develop inline pressure thermoforming
and trimming machines in 1953 (Fig. 3-4). It is surpris-

Fig. 3-4. Plaxall Corp. inline proprietary thermoformer, 1953.

ing that commercial inline roll fed pressure formers utilizing
steel rule die cutting were not available until the
Brown Bantam 16 (mold size 16 W. x 8 L. inches, 406 x
203 mm) was marketed in1965 at a reasonable price of
$10,000 (Fig. 3-5). Plaxall maintained a lead far ahead

Fig. 3-5. Brown inline thermoformer and steel rule die cutter,
1965.

of their competition because they had been willing to
invest in equipment that was quite visionary. This firm
was acclaimed by the packaging industry for its creativity
and production of high quality formed parts it continued
on as a family owned entity into the present time.

Kraft Foods, Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1940s,
needed a single service portion blister package for jellies,
jams, etc. for its restaurant customers. Before these
individual sealed packs were available, most restaurants
provided unsanitary common-use containers for the dining
public. Portion package designs and equipment described
in an article in Modern Plastics, May 1952 was
acquired by Kraft from the firm, Foodies of Manhattan
Ltd. The production rate of 300 units/minute probably
was achieved using a rotary drum thermoformer. An
earlier Kraft patent (Fig. 3-6) described the pressure

Fig. 3-6. Kraft Foods portion blister packaging, fill and seal
machine designed by Theodore Lowe. Filed 1952.

forming of this container as a component of an inline
fill and seal machine operating at a much lower production
rate.

The specialized thermoforming equipment described
here were not low cost universal machines which could
be adapted for small part quantities or for large area components.

Bow Stratton of the Army Map Service published a
detailed and comprehensive article in Modern Plastics
magazine, September 1950, of the many years of experimentation
to vacuum form contour maps (Fig. 3-7).
His description and photos of the mold, radiant heater,
vacuum system and clamp frame was sufficient for any
competent machine designer to develop commercial
versions from this information.

Industrial Radiant Heat Corp., Gladstone, New Jersey,
in 1950 negotiated the first sale of a commercial
vacuum forming machine (Fig. 3-8). This equipment
contained many elements of the Army Map Service
vacuum forming designs, including:

Fig. 3-7. Army Map Service vacuum former served as a prototype
for commercial equipment, late 1940s.

Fig. 3-8. Industrial Radiant Heat Corp. double mold vacuum
former, 1953.

Traveling Super Heater consisting of bare nichrome
wire sewn into a fiberglass cloth which provided an even
heat up to 700°F (371°C). This oven was manually
moved to and from the clamped sheet and mold by the
operator.

Hinged Top Clamp Frame firmly held the plastic
sheet directly against a raised wall built around the periphery
of a female mold during the heating cycle.

Duct Tape an Essential. Used to seal the mold to
prevent vacuum leaks and to the author’s mind, was the
main tool employed by many of the early thermoforming
operators for multiple purposes. It was applied to cuts
and bruises, repairing leaking air and water hoses and
also substituted for nuts and bolts and served as a fastener
to repair equipment.

Blow off Valve. Supplied compressed air to eject the
formed parts from the mold cavities and negated the incorporation
of a mechanical stripper within the tool for
difficult to release shots.

Industrial Radiant Heat Corp. was the first firm to advertise
and demonstrate its vacuum forming machine at
a trade show in 1952. Some of its early customers were

(continued on next page)

15 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

quite varied and comprised a broad range of industry –
Auburn Button Works, National Organ Supply,
Kelvinator Corp., Dow Chemical, Pratt Institute,
Gladwin Plastics, Einson-Freeman, etc. The firm appears
to have left the industry by 1955 as no mention was noted
in periodicals after that period.

Autovac Corp., Bridgeport, Connecticut, incorporated
in February 1953 by Bow Stratton and partner Bob
Butzko, marketed a line of vacuum formers with solid
engineered features. Their oven contained tubular heating
elements, a metallic heat reflector with thermal insulation
which was regulated by a temperature controller,
a timer and used pneumatic cylinders to drive the
oven. Very soon the complete cycle was automated which
contributed to consistent forming and high quality finished
products (Fig. 3-9).

Fig. 3-9. Autovac Corp. The first commercial roll-fed continuous
vacuum forming or skin packager, 1954.

In 1953, an important advance in sheet clamp frame
design was embodied in a two-piece assembly with an
upper member hinged to the lower section and the whole
unit was then moved vertically up or down. Previously,
the clamp frame was stationary with a hinged section
that clamped the sheet directly to the female mold. Hence
only female or shallow male cavities could be formed
using this early type of clamp frame. Nor is it clear how
compensation for hot sheet sag was achieved. The new
vertical moving clamp frame was advertised to be used
either for drape (male cavities) or vacuum forming (female
cavities) and also to assist ejection of a formed
shot from the mold (Fig. 3-10). Modern thermoformers
are now rarely designed with a stationary mold and a
vertically traversing clamp frame instead the mold is
secured to a moving platen and the sheet line is fixed.

The drape feature appeared simultaneously in 1953
on both Autovac Corp. and Vacform Corp., Port Wash-

Fig. 3-10. Autovac Corp. cut sheet vacuum former with a fully
adjustable clamp frame for the various mold areas. The frame
can accommodate male or female cavities, 1954.

ington, N.Y. vacuum forming machines. Sanford S.
Zimmerman, founder of Vacform Corp., built his ma-
chinery in a very robust manner and the designs were
very well engineered. This company was eventually sold
to Emhart Corp. (glass machinery builder) of Hartford,
Conn. (Fig. 3-11).
Fig. 3-11. Vacform Corp. Drape vacuum forming clamp frame,
1953.
Skin packaging, a close relative to thermoforming,
substitutes a consumer product for a male cavity. The
part is encased with hot plastic sheet which is tightly
drawn by vacuum and sealed to an underlying porous
printed card coated with heat activated cement. This pro-
cess requires loose products not to shift from their reg-
istered spots on the card that had been previously placed
on the machine’s stationary base. The clamp frame then
actuates vertically bringing the heated sheet to the parts
for packaging. During this early development period,
Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 16

vacuum forming equipment advertising promoted its dual
ability as a skin packager. Later the two processes separated
and each type of machine was specifically designed
and sold only for a single purpose.

David Zelnick, President of Atlas Vac Corp., Rochester,
N.Y. in 1954, designed and constructed a complete
line of vacuum forming machines. Mr. Zelnick in
his prior position as a plastic sheet salesman for U.S.
Rubber Corp. constructed his first vacuum former using
an old refrigerator compressor (for vacuum) which
his firm demonstrated at the National Plastics Show in
1952. Since this early entry into thermoforming, Mr.
Zelnick and his family members continue to operate Zed
Industries of Vandalia, Ohio whose machines range
from sample prototype to high volume thermoformers
and many auxiliary machines.

Chicago, Illinois was a heavily industrialized area
which quickly encouraged the growth of thermoforming
machinery manufacturing. Comet Industries, Franklin
Park, Illinois in 1955, advertised double forming stations
serviced by a single pivoted oven rotating overhead
between stations. The founding Kostur family of
father and sons built many types of thermoformers but
were best known for their advocacy of electric motor
driven platens rather then air cylinders for cut sheet form

ers (Fig. 3-12). This type of platen drive was further per-

Fig. 3-12. Comet cut sheet vacuum former with electric motor
driven dual platens, 1959.

fected and became a specialty of the MAAC Machinery
Corp., Carol Steam, Ill. established by Paul V.
Alongi in 1982. ABBOTT Plastic Machine Corp.,
Chicago, Illinois, built very inexpensive large area

vacuum formers which were heavily promoted in 1954
(Fig. 3-13). Eventually the equipment was modified
to suit the special needs of the skin packaging industry.
¦

Fig. 3-13. Abbott Machine Corp. large area vacuum former,
1954.

References

Note: Patented Machines were often sold before the patents
were filed.

Article – First National Plastics Exposition – Modern Plastics,
July, 1946, Editorial.

Ad – Radiant Heat Inc. – Plastics World, June 1954.

Article – Packaging Institute Forum – Vacuum Formed
Thermoplastics – New, Needed, but not by Novices –
Modern Packaging, December 1954.

Ad – Borkland Laboratories, Inc. – Modern Plastics, April
1955.

Article – Plaxall Corp. – Automatic Sheet Forming -Modern
Plastics, July 1953.

Brown Machine Co. – Inline thermoformer and Steel Rule Die
Cutting – Brown Patent No. 3,513,505 filed October 5,
1966.

Article – Kraft Foods – One Portion at a Time – Modern
Plastics, May 1952.

Kraft Foods – Single portion package -Patent No. 2,736,150
filed February 28, 1952 and Patent No. 2,649,392 filed
March 30, 1950.

Article – Bow Stratton, Printed Sheets Precision Formed –
Modern Plastics, September 1950.

Ad – Industrial Radiant Heat Corp. Vacuum Former – Modern
Packaging, April 1953.

Fifth National Plastics Exposition – Industrial Radiant Heat
Corp. demonstrated the first commercial vacuum former –
March 1952 in Philadelphia, PA.

Article – Autovac Corp. – Notice of founding of firm – Modern
Plastics, February, 1953

Thermtrol Corp. – Contact Heat Pressure Former – Patent No.
3,113,345 filed August 24, 1961.

Shuman – Large Manual Vacuum Former – Patent No.
3,553,784 filed December 14, 1967.

(continued on next page)

17 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

Packaging Industries – Form, Fill and
Seal – Patent No. 2,970,414 filed
December 18, 1958.

Autovac Corp. – Roll Fed Vacuum
Former – company literature.

Ad – Autovac Corp. – Drape Vacuum
Former – Plastics World –
December 1953.

Autovac Corp. – Cut Sheet Vacuum
Former – Patent No. 2,836,852
filed March 8, 1954.

Vacform Corp. – Drape Vacuum
Forming – Patent No. 2,989,780
filed July 2, 1953.

Atlas Vac Corp. – History of company letter
from Dave Zelnick, CEO
(2005).

Ad – Comet Industries – Dual Station
Vacuum Former – Modern Plastics,
February 1955.

Comet Industries – Motorized Platen
Vacuum Former, Patent No.
3,025,566 filed February 9, 1959.

Ad – Abbott Plastics Machine Co. –
Large Manual Vacuum Former –
Plastics World, August 1954.

Plax Corp. – Contact Heat Pressure
Former – Patent No. 3,004,288
filed October 19, 1955.

Tronomatic Corp – Roll Fed Vacuum
Former – Patent No. 3,153,813.

Brown Machine Co. – History of
Company – Internet.

Brown Machine Co. – 42 P.
Thermoformer Press – Patent No.
3,346,923 filed July 10, 1963.

Brown Machine Co. – Web Indexing
Chain – Patent No. 3,216,491 filed
October 28, 1963.

Article – Hydro-Chemie – Vacuum
Molding- Modern Plastics,
November 1953.

Article – British Sheet Forming
Progress – Modern Plastics, April
1953.

Article – Edwards & Co. Ltd. – Vacuum
Forming Machine – Plastics World,
July 1954.

Article – Morane Plastics Co. Ltd. –
Skin Packaging Machine -Modern
Plastics, September 1955.

Adolf Illig Maschenbau – Company
History – Internet -UA-100
Vacuum Former – photo from
company literature.

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

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Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 18

Process – Cycle Time

BY BARRY SHEPHERD

(Editor’s Note: This is the
first Thermoforming 101
article written by your new
technical editor. Dr. Throne
wrote 34 articles that date back
to 1998, Volume 17, Number 3.
He had originally intended to
write a series of 18 general
interest articles but the 101
series has become a mainstay
of the Quarterly. The year-end
booklet that contains every 101
article to date is a great
reference source for
thermoforming practitioners.
This technical editor has every
intention of maintaining the
series and the booklet which is
becoming the perfect reading
material for people entering
the industry or seasoned
personnel who need help on a
specific problem. Jim wrote 4
articles last year that dealt with
part design. I hope he will
forgive me for not continuing
with the “Trimmed Edge” topic
he suggested for this lesson. I
will deal with this topic when
we take a closer look at the
subject of “Die-Cutting.” This
Thermoforming 101 article
deals with a subject about
which we should all be more
diligent. Foreign competition
has forced us to maximize
efficiency and become more
competitive. So let us review
the basic factors that determine
cycle time.)

THERMOFORMING
101
General Assumptions

We all should be aware that if
we let the operator determine
when a machine cycles, our
production rate will suffer.
Running thermoforming
machines on manual mode is
necessary for set up and of course
if all you have is a simple shuttle
machine with rudimentary
controls you have no other
choice. So let’s just deal with
thermoforming in automatic
mode. We will only deal with the
forming part of the process.
Trimming of heavy gauge parts
is another topic. Also for this
purpose we will assume that
when thinking roll-fed, we are
using a machine with in-line diecutting.

The Basic Concept

If we take all the segments of
the rotary or in-line
thermoforming process: heating.
indexing the sheet, closing the
press, forming the part, cooling
the part, opening the press,

trimming and stacking (if in-line),
the cycle time is dictated solely
by the slowest segment of the
process. Most people looking at
our process for the first time will
say it has to be the heating
segment that is the slowest part
of the process. This is not
necessarily so.

Roll-Fed

It is especially not so with rollfed
machines that usually are
designed to have 4 indexes in the
ovens. For example if the
maximum mold size in the index
direction is 36″. The oven length
will be roughly 4 times 36″ or 12
feet long. So if you are running
.020 PVC which would normally
be in the oven for 20 seconds to
get up to forming temperature,
your cycle time, based on a 4
index oven, is 5 seconds (20
divided by 4) or 12 cycles per
minute. This is not bad for
running smaller and medium size
quantities but it can be a lot better.
I will explain later.

(continued on next page)

19 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

Sheet-Fed

OK, so what about heavygauge,
sheet-fed forming? The
same principle applies. In North
America the machinery
manufacturers recognized early
on that they must do something
about the length of time it takes
to heat the sheet evenly and
thoroughly. So the 4 station rotary
machine was designed which cut
heating time dramatically by
using 2 heater banks through
which the sheet travels on its way
to the mold. So why not build a 5
station rotary with 3 heater banks
and really cut heating time? The
answer is, there would be no point
unless the part could be formed
and cooled in a time less than one
third the heating time. In fact the
cooling of some materials is so
difficult that one heater bank on
a 4 station would have to be shut
off or set at a lower temperature
to allow time for proper cooling.
So if we can do things to speed
up the heating of the sheet, what
can we do to cool the part
quicker? This is where it gets
tricky.

The Forming Segment of
the Cycle

On roll-fed machines, unless
you are dealing with super fast
lines, you can forget about the
trimming and stacking segments
of the cycle when looking for
what is slowing you down.
Concentrate on the forming
segment from the time the sheet
leaves the heaters to the time the
formed part leaves the form

station. Let’s break down the
actions that take place.

Index speed is the speed that
the sheet travels from the heaters
to the form station. Roll-fed pin
chains can travel up to 95 inches
per second. A rotary turntable
moves a lot slower. On both rollfed
and sheet-fed lines the
stopping and starting actions can
become too violent if the index
speed is too fast which may cause
the hot sheet to move as the mold
closes on it. Move the sheet as
fast as possible but make sure that
the drape is stationary when the
mold closes.

Shut height or platen travel is
the distance the form platens must
travel from the open position to
the closed position. All too often
set-up people will not take the
time to reduce the shut height to
optimum levels. I have seen a
roll-fed job running very shallow
pill blisters with a female tool on
the bottom and the plugs on the
top showing 3 inches of daylight
between the plugs and the sheet
line because the operator did not
lower the shut height of the top
press. This added at least 1 second
to the cycle time and over a 30
hour run at 15 cycles per minute
added over 2 hours of
unnecessary labor and machine
time. If you don’t have shut
height adjustment on your form
press the only way to do this is to
add build ups behind the tooling.
Fortunately the new machines
have electric presses which make
setting the shut height so much
easier.

Press speed affects the length
of the cycle time but sometimes
it is necessary to slow the press
closing speed to accommodate

plug or assist action. If you are
having difficulty with de-molding
you may need to slow the opening
speed. Other than these
conditions, you can move the
platens as fast as you want. Third
motion tooling or independent
plug control with individual
cavity clamping can greatly
improve cycle time but this is
getting beyond the scope of a 101
article.

Cooling time is by far the most
important factor in achieving a
fast cycle time. In my very early
days of thermoforming we tried
running an epoxy mold on a
modern in line machine. Even
with a water cooled base under
the mold the best we could do is
2 cycles per minute simply
because the mold never got a
chance to cool down. Using an
aluminum mold on a water
cooled base allows you to run
most jobs at reasonable speeds as
long as the height (or depth if it’s
a female) of the mold is no more
than say 2 inches. To achieve
maximum efficiency and reduce
cooling time the mold must be
kept at the target temperature as
specified by the material supplier.
Hot material at 350 degrees F
hitting the metal mold requires a
very efficient cooling system to
maintain that mold temperature
that may have to run at 200
degrees F constantly to run fast
cycles. The only way to do this is
to run cooling lines in the mold
itself usually no more than 2″
to 3″ apart depending on the size
and configuration of the mold.
Cast-in lines are the norm for
aluminum cast molds and
machined in lines are the norm
for machined aluminum molds.

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 20

Cooling time on sheet-fed
rotary machines running thick
HDPE can be improved by
using external fans, water mist
or cold air directed onto the part
but care must be taken not to
form in stresses. A well built
water cooled mold is still
necessary for the most
significant improvement in
cycle time.

So how do some roll-fed
thermoformers get 50,000 parts
per hour? This will be the
subject of technical articles in
the future. It’s not a subject for
the 101 series but here is a hint:
third motion tools, cavity
clamping, pre-heaters and great
cooling in the molds.

Cycle time is just one way to
make our operations lean and
more competitive. Other ways
will be discussed in future
Thermoforming 101 articles. ¦

2008 EUROPEAN

THERMOFORMING

CONFERENCE

ANNOUNCED

April 3 – 5, 2008

Berlin, Germany
Maritim Hotel Berlin

For further information,

contact Kitty Beijer at

Beijer_k@senoplast.com

ThermoformingSI@aol.com

Spe.Europe@skynet.com

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QUARTERLY

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21 ThermoformingQUARTERLY

Help Sponsor

Thermoforming®

Q U A R T E R L Y

ONE YR. SPONSORSHIPS

**Please note the increase in sponsorship
rates. This is the first increase since the
inception of the Thermoforming Quarterly
in 1981. We appreciate your continued
support of our award winning publication.

Patron – $625

(Includes 2.25″ x 1.25″ notice)

Benefactor – $2,000

(Includes 4.75″ x 3″ notice)

Questions?

Please Contact:

Laura Pichon

Ex-Tech Plastics
847/829-8124
lpichon@extechplastics.com

We Appreciate Your Support!

From The Editor

Thermoforming Quarterly

welcomes letters from its
readers. All letters are subject
to editing for clarity and space
and must be signed. Send to:
Mail Bag, Thermoforming
Quarterly, P. O. Box 471,
Lindale, Georgia 30147-1027,
fax 706/295-4276 or e-mail to:
gmathis224@aol.com.

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Thermoforming
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Thermoforming

QUARTERLY

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QUARTERLY

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………………………………………………………
…………………………S
………………………………………………………………………………T
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……………………………………………………………………..S
.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

2007 THERMOFORMING CONFERENCE
September 16th – 19th, 2007
Duke Energy Center & Millennium Hotel
Cincinnati, Ohio

23 ThermoformingQUARTERLY

2007 PARTS COMPETITION ANNOUNCEMENT

BY HAYDN FORWARD, PARTS COMPETITION CHAIRMAN

W
W
elcome to our introduction of
the 2007 Parts Competition.

These are exciting times for our
industry and the 2007 Parts
Competition will again showcase
advancements in thermoforming
design, innovation and capabilities.

I’m confident all of you have
experienced and introduced many
changes in your business over the last
year and change is in the air for this
year’s competition format. I’m
pleased to say the changes are in
response to numerous ideas and
recommendations to enhance the
viability of the competition.

Media has shown a strong interest
in thermoforming and has requested
improvements to assist them in
publicizing well deserved
recognition of the parts and award
recipients.

We will be opening the part
entrance door wider by inviting a
broader range of those involved in
part development, which will
generate a new category and winner.
In respect to our history of close
competition, other award categories
will be rolled into a larger grouping
and multiple winners announced
from that grouping. Contrary to the
past, part entries that might have been
“a close second place” will now have
a greater opportunity of industry
recognition.

A simple stream-lined entrance
process will be introduced for rapid
international announcement of the
winners.

The conference committee is
gearing up to help educate the
industry this year and our parts
competition will be part of that effort.

Each submitter’s representative
will have the opportunity to speak
with the press, your peer’s, designers,
tool makers and OEM’s, at a
dedicated time and gathering for the
occasion.

History has shown that every part
entered deserves recognition, but
unfortunately every part does not
receive an award. In light of this, each
entered submittal will receive a
“Certificate of Acknowledgment”
from the SPE.

Details on these exciting changes
will soon be found on our website
www.thermoformingdivision.com
and in the next Quarterly.

It’ll be easy to start thinking now
about how to take advantage of this
once a year opportunity to showcase
your capabilities, research and
introduce your firm to and through
the press.

I’m encouraging you to take a few
moments and forward your e-mail
address to me at hforward@smimfg.
com. Once sent, you’ll be on the
list to receive the necessary, short and
easy, instructions to enter the 2007
SPE Thermoforming Division Parts
Competition. ¦

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 24

2007 THERMOFORMING
EXHIBITS FOR CINCINNATI

Get an early start – reserve your space now …
call Gwen Mathis at 706/235-9298.

ALCOA KAMA CORPORATION
ALLEN EXTRUDERS, INC.
AMERICAN TOOL & ENGINEERING, INC.
AMETEK LAND, INC.
ARISTECH ACRYLICS LLC
BASELL
BROWN MACHINE LLC
EX-TECH PLASTICS, INC.
GEISS THERMOFORMING USA, LLC
INVISTA S.A.R.L.
KLEERDEX COMPANY LLC
KLOCKNER PENTAPLAST
MAAC MACHINERY
MODERN MACHINERY OF BEAVERTON, INC.
NEW HAMPSHIRE PLASTICS
ONSRUD CUTTER LP
PORTAGE CASTING & MOLD, INC.
PREMIER MATERIAL CONCEPTS
PRIMEX PLASTICS CORPORATION
PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES
RAYTEK CORPORATION
ROYCE ROUTERS
RTP COMPANY
SENCORP, INC.
SENOPLAST USA
SPARTECH CORPORATION
STOPOL, INC.
THERMWOOD CORPORATION
TOOLING TECHNOLOGY LLC
TOPAS ADVANCED POLYMERS, INC.
ZED INDUSTRIES

25 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Thermoformers, have
you discovered a
forming tip that you
are willing to share
with your fellow
formers?
A time saver?
Or a cost saver?
Or something that
will save wear and
tear on your machine?
Or your employees?
Then the

TIPS

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is for you!

Just send Barry Shepherd a
fax at 905-459-6746, outlining
your tip in less than a couple
hundred words. You can
include drawings, sketches,
whatever. Thanks!

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QUARTERLY

FormingMore Than Machines.
We’re more than just thermoforming machines.
Brown is a process engineering team and a
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Contact us today at www.brown-machine.com

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 26

These sponsors enable us to publish

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QUARTERLY

Thermoforming

QUARTERLY

We
need
your
continued
support
and
your
efforts
on
membership
recruitment!!
27 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMING
DIVISION DVD’S
STILL AVAILABLE

The first DVD is titled:

“WHAT EXACTLY IS
THERMOFORMING?”

This six-minute DVD introduces
the viewer to the thermoforming
process with examples of parts
produced and a video of the
process. Both thin gauge roll fed
and heavy gauge cut sheet fed
aspects of thermoforming are
illustrated. It is for students,
industry and anyone who
wished to learn more about
thermoforming.

The second DVD is titled:

“FORMING EDUCATIONAL
OPPORTUNITIES:
GRANTS AND
SCHOLARSHIPS
OFFERED BY THE
SOCIETY OF PLASTICS
ENGINEERS –
THERMOFORMING
DIVISION”

This six-minute DVD discusses
the 13 matching equipment
grants of up to $10,000 and 20
scholarships up to $5,000 for
college students. Information is
provided for applying to these
grants and scholarships. The
Thermoforming Division of SPE
has contributed over $150,000
in equipment grants and
scholarships as of this date.

Both DVDs are free of charge and
available from SPE through
Gail Bristol at phone number
203-740-5447 or Gwen Mathis,
Thermoforming Division, at
phone number 706-235-9298.

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QUARTERLY

2952 N. Leavitt x
Chicago IL 60618 x
Ph (773) 281-4200 x
Fax (773) 281-6185

THERMOFORM TOOLING
———-
———-
sales@umthermoform.comwww.umthermoform.com
Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 28

® ®
Society of Plastics Engineers

MEMBERSHIP

P.O. Box 403, Brookfield, CT 06804-0403 USA
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29 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 30
info@cmtmaterials.com www.cmtmaterials.com
TEL (508) 226-3901 FAX (508) 226-3902
CMT MATERIALS, INC.
Innovative Tooling Materials for Thermoforming
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Thermoforming
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• Machines • Accessories • Automation • Consulting
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Thermoforming

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Ph: 804/236-3065
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31 Thermoforming
QUARTERLY

 Thickness from 0.028” to 0.500”
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ISO 9001:2000 and
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INDEX OF SPONSORS

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KIEFEL TECHNOLOGY …………….. 27
KYDEX …………………………………… 32
LANXESS ……………………………….. 12
MAAC MACHINERY …………………… 6
McCLARIN PLASTICS………………. 30
MODERN MACHINERY ……………. 26
NEW HAMPSHIRE PLASTICS …… 18
ONSRUD CUTTER …………………… 22
PLASTICS CONCEPTS …………….. 23
PLASTIMACH ………………………….. 26
PORTAGE CASTING & MOLD,

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PREMIER MATERIAL CONCEPTS. 27
PRIMEX PLASTICS ………………….. 30
PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES .. 30
PRODUCTIVE PLASTICS, INC. …. 23
PRODUCTO CORPORATION ……. 30
PROFILE PLASTICS ………………… 23
RAY PRODUCTS, INC………………. 31
RAYTEK …………………………………. 23
SELECT PLASTICS………………….. 31
SENCORP ………………………………. 32
SOLAR PRODUCTS ………………… 31
STANDEX ENGRAVING GROUP .. 31
STOPOL INC. ………………………….. 18
TEMPCO ELECTRIC ………………….. 4
THERMWOOD CORP…….Inside Back

Cover
TOOLING TECHNOLOGY, LLC ……. 4
TPS ……………………………………….. 31
ULTRA-METRIC TOOL CO. ……….. 28
WECO PRODUCTS …………………. 12
WELEX, INC. …………………………… 21
XALOY …………………………………… 31
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ADVANCED VENTURES IN
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ALCOA GLOBAL MILLS
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ALLEN EXTRUDERS ……………….. 30
AMERICAN CATALYTIC
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AMERICAN THERMOFORMING
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ALTUGLAS INTERNATIONAL ……… 1

BROWN MACHINE ………………….. 26
CMS NORTH AMERICA ……………. 31
CMT MATERIALS, INC. …………….. 30
COPPER AND BRASS DIVISION …. 5
EDWARD D. SEGEN & CO. ………. 28
FOXMOR GROUP ……………………. 30
FUTURE MOLD CORP. …………….. 31
GN PLASTICS …………………………. 22

Thermoforming
QUARTERLY 32

CHAIRMAN’S CORNER

2007: A Year to Nurture
Future Leadership

My Hard-Charging New Year’s
Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again … for New

Year’s Resolutions. As usual, mine focus
on health and fitness. Unfortunately, I find myself looking back
with dismay at my unfinished 2006 personal resolutions. Too
little physical activity. Not much movement on the weight loss
front! But with a renewed sense of vigor, I’m charging hard
into 2007!

But in addition to personal resolutions, I also made three
SPE Thermoforming resolutions. As your new Chairman …

•
I resolve to guide your organization with the integrity
and energy you expect.
•
I resolve to bring continuing relevance to your
organization through conferences, seminars, technical
information and networking opportunities.
•
And – most importantly – I resolve to nurture new
people for your organization’s leadership.
Currently, we are blessed with an incredibly capable group
of professionals who are extremely generous with their time.
And, by the time you read this, you will already have voted on
an outstanding slate of 2007 candidates to the Board of
Directors.

But my “leadership” resolution is really about planting and
germinating the seeds of interest in 2007 and harvesting
Division leadership for 2008 and beyond. To each of you, I
ask: Have you ever considered joining the Board of Directors
to help plan and execute the many initiatives of your
organization?

My Challenge to You

Take it from me – from someone who’s been involved in
Thermoforming Division leadership for a number of years – it
is extremely rewarding and gratifying to give back to my
vocation.

Every day we “take, take, take” from the thermoforming
industry; after all it’s where we derive our livelihood. So, I
challenge you – especially the thin- and heavy-gauge
thermoformers – to get involved. Consider “giving back” to
your industry through Board leadership. Each year one-third
of our Board members either rotates off or is up for reelection,
so each year there are a number of new openings. We especially
need a few more practicing thermoformers interested in Board
membership.

Please don’t be shy. If you would like to know more about
Board activities, I encourage you to contact a current or past
Board member … someone you may know, someone in your
industry or someone in your geographic area. They would be

BY WALT WALKER, CHAIR

delighted to talk with you about what Board membership means
to them and the duties involved.

To All Members: Cultivate and Nourish Potential
Leadership

But wait, there’s more to my resolution. This leadership
appeal wouldn’t be complete without also asking ALL members
to cultivate and encourage others to consider a leadership
position. Nine times out of ten, people don’t get involved unless
they’re asked. So, ask. Ask the best and the brightest you know.
Or contact an existing Board member with a name, so we can
begin nourishing that leadership relationship.

Thank You, Jim Throne

Long-time technical editor of Thermoforming Quarterly, Jim
Throne (Sherwood Technologies, Inc.,), has put down his pen
and retired from his editing duties. Author of several books,
Jim generously shared with us his deep knowledge of the
thermoforming industry for many, many years. Thank you, Jim,
for your true dedicated service. You’ll be much missed. Picking
up Jim’s mighty-mantle is Board Chair-Elect Barry Shepherd
of Shepherd Thermoforming & Packaging, Inc. in Ontario.
Welcome, Barry!

2007 Conference Planning Underway

At our February Board meeting, we’ll be reviewing the
agenda for our upcoming conference in Cincinnati from
September 16th-19th, 2007. Conference Chairman Ken Griep
and Technical Co-Chairs Conor Carlin, Brian Winton, and
Haydn Forward will be presenting the upcoming conference
agenda. We’ll also be talking about our 2008 Minneapolis
Conference, plus a possible alternative to our 2009 Conference.
There has been some interest in holding several regional oneday
technical sessions across the country to provide
professional development opportunities to more people.

Is a European Conference in Our Future?

Also at the February Board meeting, we’ll be discussing a
possible joint conference with the European Thermoforming
Division. It’s a very small world today. Perhaps there’s some
value in sharing a conference date, exploring common global
issues and industry challenges. There is much to explore and
debate. What do you think?

Happy New Year!

Finally, I wish all of you a healthy and prosperous new year.
And, if you’re interested in taking up my leadership challenge,
give me a call!

It’s a great day in thermoforming!

Walt Walker

THERMOFORMING DIVISION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
James A. Alongi – 2009

MAAC Machinery
590 Tower Boulevard
Carol Stream, IL 60188-9426
TEL (630) 665-1700
FAX (630) 665-7799
jalongi@maacmachinery.com

Machinery Committee

Jim Armor – 2008

Armor & Associates
16181 Santa Barbara Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
TEL (714) 846-7000
FAX (714) 846-7001
jimarmor@aol.com

Materials Committee

Phil S. Barhouse – 2009

Creative Forming
100 Creative Way

P.O. Box 128
Ripon, WI 54971
TEL (920) 748-1119
FAX (920) 748-9466
phil.barhouse@creativeforming.com
Materials Committee

Michael Book – 2007

6259 Rime Village Dr. Apt. 208
Huntsville, AL 35806
TEL (256) 230-5442
michaelbook@hotmail.com

Processing Committee

Arthur Buckel – 2008

McConnell Co., Inc.
3452 Bayonne Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
TEL (858) 273-9620
FAX (858) 273-6837
artbuckel@thermoforming.com

Processing Committee

Conor Carlin – 2008

Stopol, Inc.
31875 Solon Road
Solon, OH 44139
TEL (440) 498-4000
FAX (440) 498-4001
conorc@stopol.com

Machinery Committee

Haydn Forward – 2009

Specialty Mfg., Inc.
6790 Nancy Ridge Drive
San Diego, CA 92121
TEL (858) 450-1591
FAX (858) 450-0400
hforward@smi-mfg.com

Processing Committee

Roger Fox – 2007

The Foxmor Group
373 South County Farm Road
Suite 202
Wheaton, IL 60187
TEL (630) 653-2200
FAX (630) 653-1474
rfox@foxmor.com

Marketing Committee

Richard Freeman – 2009

Freetech Plastics
2211 Warm Springs Court
Fremont, CA 94539
TEL (510) 651-9996
FAX (510) 651-9917
rfree@freetechplastics.com

Processing Committee

Hal Gilham – 2007

Productive Plastics, Inc.
103 West Park Drive
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08045
TEL (856) 778-4300
FAX (856) 234-3310
halg@productiveplastics.com

Processing Committee

Wm. K. McConnell, Jr. – 2008

Robert G. Porsche – 2009

Ken Griep – 2008

McConnell Co., Inc.

General Plastics, Inc.
2901 Portage Road

Portage Casting & Mold, Inc.

3030 Sandage St.

2609 West Mill Road

P.O. Box 11512
Milwaukee, WI 53209
Fort Worth, TX 76110

Portage, WI 53901

TEL (414) 351-1000

TEL (608) 742-7137

TEL (817) 926-8287

FAX (414) 351-1284

FAX (608) 742-2199

FAX (817) 926-8298

bob@genplas.com

ken@pcmwi.com

billmc@thermoforming.com

Processing Committee

Machinery Committee

Materials Committee

Walt Speck – 2007

Steve Hasselbach – 2008

Vin McElhone – 2007

Speck Plastics, Inc.

CMI Plastics

Stand-Up Plastics

P. O. Box 421
P.O. Box 369
5 Fordham Trail

Nazareth, PA 18064

Cranbury, NJ 08512-0369

Old Saybrook, CT 06475

TEL (610) 759-1807

TEL (609) 395-1920

TEL (860) 395-5699
FAX (609) 395-0981

FAX (610) 759-3916
steve@cmiplastics.com

FAX (860) 395-4732

wspeck@speckplastics.com

vin@standupplastics.com

Processing Committee

Materials Committee

Donald C. Hylton – 2007

646 Holyfield Highway

Stephen R. Murrill – 2009

Dr. Martin J. Stephenson, Ph.D. –

Profile Plastics Corp.

Fairburn, GA 30213

2009

65 S. Waukegan

TEL (678) 772-5008

316 Boulevard Ave.
don@thermoforming.com

Lake Bluff, IL 60044

Belleville, WI 53508

TEL (847) 604-5100 EXT. 29

Materials Committee

TEL (608) 424-3837

FAX (847) 604-8030

dezmar@hotmail.com

Bill Kent – 2008

SMurrill@thermoform.com
Brown Machine

Materials Committee

Processing Committee

330 North Ross Street

Jay Waddell – 2008

Dennis Northrop – 2009

Beaverton, MI 48612-0434

Plastic Concepts & Innovations,

Avery Dennison

TEL (989) 435-7741

Automotive Division

LLC

FAX (989) 435-2821

650 W. 67th Avenue

1127 Queensborough Blvd.

bill.kent@brown-machine.com

Schererville, IN 46375-1390

Suite 102

Machinery Committee

TEL (219) 322-5030

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

FAX (219) 322-2623

Don Kruschke – 2007 TEL (843) 971-7833

Dennis.Northrop@averydennison.com

Stopol, Inc.

FAX (843) 216-6151

Materials Committee

31875 Solon Road

jwaddell@plasticoncepts.com
Solon, OH 44139

Joe Peters – 2007

Processing Committee

Universal Plastics

75 Whiting Farms Road

TEL (440) 498-4000

Brian Winton – 2007

FAX (440) 498-4001

Holyoke, MA 01040

Modern Machinery

donk@Stopol.com

TEL (413) 592-4791

P. O. Box 423
Machinery Committee

FAX (413) 592-6876

Beaverton, MI 48612-0423

petersj@universalplastics.com

Mike Lowery – 2007

TEL (989) 435-9071

Processing Committee

Premier Plastics

FAX (989) 435-3940

9680 S. Oakwood Park Dr.

Laura Pichon – 2008

bwinton@modernmachineinc.com

Franklin, WI 53132

Ex-Tech Plastics

Machinery Committee

TEL (414) 423-5940 Ext 102

P.O. Box 576
FAX (414) 423-5930
11413 Burlington Road
mikel@lowerytech.com

Richmond, IL 60071

TEL (847) 829-8124
FAX (815) 678-4248
lpichon@extechplastics.com

Processing Committee

Materials Committee

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