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SPE Thermoforming Quarterly®

Fourth Quarter 2021

Executive Forum Summary

The Thermoforming Division Board of Directors hosted an invitation-only executive forum to explore technical, commercial, and financial aspects of both thin- and heavy-gauge thermoforming. Chaired by Roger Jean and Steve Zamprelli, participants engaged each other via roundtable discussions with moderators. Small groups of 4-5 business leaders talked about topics facing our industry today such as labor shortages, succession planning for small or family businesses, software and technology changes, and lean manufacturing practices. Macro-level topics such as the perception of plastics among the public and general sustainability themes were also discussed, but with less emphasis given the manufacturing focus of the participants. In keeping with the history of collaboration among thermoformers, there was plenty of knowledge sharing and open discussion about how companies can help each other to the broader benefit of the thermoforming process…

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Fourth Quarter 2021

3D Printed Thermoforming Tools Save Time & Money

Additive manufacturing has completely changed the way thermoformers and OEMs view tooling in terms of production time, cost, and quality. When compared to traditional metal tooling, Catalysis, a tool fabricator, can 3D print tooling in half the time for half the cost while maintaining the same level of quality. 3D printing also allows for the design of more complex tooling for low-to-medium volume production parts, removing constraints inhibited by traditional tooling design.

3D printed thermoforming tools can be manufactured in less than 2 weeks and have significantly lower costs than aluminum tools. 3D printed tooling can be a good alternative to traditional RenShape, wood, or aluminum tooling, but it is only one tool in the toolbox and will not replace traditional tooling…

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