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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First Quarter 2021
Advances in Digital Thermoforming
For many years now, thermoforming companies have searched for technology which can inject life into an aging, analog industry comprised of long runs, extended lead times and limited vertical market expansion. It is a culture searching for ways to reach new customers with new applications in order to stay relevant in a fast-changing market. The recent pandemic has only accelerated this need.
HP’s Latex inks were introduced to the market at the DRUPA trade fair in Germany in 2008, offering a sustainable solution of water-based inks to an industry that was accustomed to printing with solvent-based inks with hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a distinctive smell. Though only available in roll-to-roll printers at the time, HP’s ink technology has since advanced to a current fourth-generation ink set, rolled out with the commercialization of the R Series printers. This new generation has a much more appealing ecological footprint as it does not use reactive monomer chemistry.
Certain end-users such as sign shops, screen printers and commercial printers are now able to reach a broader customer base with more applications. Companies that were only offering signage now offer high-demand décor solutions such as feature walls, wall coverings, canvas printing, and even durable textiles. This transformation allows companies to tap into a new wave of products, all driven by personalization and shorter runs and faster go-to-market development. These companies now address a larger customer base, win larger margin potential, and have breathed new life into their sales and operations teams.
Managing Intrinsic Viscosity in PET Extrusion
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or polyester), is one of the most commercially recognized, versatile, clear, strong, lightweight, and recycled plastic materials in North America and worldwide. This material was first synthesized in the US in the mid-1940s by Dupont in search of a new synthetic fiber. Later, in the early 1970s, a technology was developed to blow and stretch mold PET into bottles and that’s when single serve water bottles came into creation. Since then, use of PET in a vast range of consumer products applications from food-grade single-serve takeout containers to critical medical & pharmaceutical packaging applications, to the all-present plastic water bottle, has taken off drastically. More than 50% of the fibers commercially available and used for various apparel and industrial applications are made of PET.
Adding to its sustainability profile is the energy-efficiency of PET. Although the feedstocks for PET are petroleum based, the environmental impact of this material is less than non-plastic alternatives such as glass and aluminum. This has to do with the capacity-to-weight ratio, which allows for more product in a lighter weight packaging solution, resulting in less solid waste by weight and fewer emissions. Advancements in precision extrusion and materials technology further contribute to the energy efficiency of production.
Full articles appears in print magazine mailed to members.