It's been a bit quiet on the blog front these days, but rest assured we are hard at work on some new projects. In fact, we are just about to submit our presentation to the good people at AMI in advance of the Thin Wall Packaging Conference in Wheeling, IL (May 23-24). In short, we have developed new data sets illustrating the effect of plug material choice on overal material distribution. This isn't entirely novel, but what we've done in this case is link the differences in average minimum thickness to part costs and overall job profitability. In essence, we answer the question, "How much is 0.001" worth?" We're looking forward to presenting the data and getting feedback from our industry peers.
When we decided to focus on understanding the challenges faced by heavy gauge thermoformers, we thought about a kaleidoscope: turn the lens and see the shapes change. Our industry colleague, Steve Murrill of Profile Plastics, neatly captured the array of variables in thermoforming at the recent European Thermoforming Conference in Spain. When discussing the evolution of thermoforming, one must acknowledge the dilemma posed by the fact that standard part acceptance is driven by statistical process control (SPC) in a closed-loop, injection molding world. Because thermoforming is an open-loop process, the variations in sheet, forming, trim fixture fit, etc., processors are constantly tweaking trim programs at great cost. This leads to the eternal question: how to tighten the process to improve consistency? Better sheet, better forming process control through IT and data analysis and better trim programs will all help, but costs need to be understood and managed so that thermoforming doesn’t lose its competitive edge.
This week we are sending a notice to those customers who use our co-polymer syntactic foam materials: HYTAC FLX, FLXT and C1R. The text of the email can be seen below. HYTAC W, WF, WFT, B1X and XTL are not affected by this change.
Heavy gauge/cut sheet thermoformers from companies across the US recently came to learn processing techniques, scientific principles, new material offerings, and more at the Pennsylvania College of Technology Plastic Innovation and Resource Center (PIRC). The program provides a 50/50 blend of classroom instruction with hands-on lab time in a lively 3-day setting. Program and Technical Service Manager Chris Gagliano developed the program to incorporate the expertise of consultant Jay Wadell with the science of plastic material properties from Dr. Kirk Cantor and the physics of thermal transfer from Dr. Joseph LeBlanc.
This week we received a package with a damaged plug and its mounting system. After reviewing the plug material and the failure modes, we suspect the cracking was due to a mismatch of thermal conductivity rates in a tightly confined area. The plug design was efficient and neatly put together - at room temperature. The chosen plug material, HYTAC-WF, is a thermoset epoxy-based material formulated for low thermal conductivity and minimal thermal expansion to provide consistent performance when contacting a heated sheet. In this particular plug design, those same properties provide a challenge for the mounting system and result in significant stress on the most brittle element – the syntactic foam.
This week we have posted 2 new case studies to our website. If you haven't already received copies from us, be sure to take a look and let us know what you think:
It's not often that we will single out a material for special consideration, but given some recent thermoforming test results, we think HYTAC C1R deserves some love.
SPECIAL GUEST POST: Sven Engelmann, Dipl. -Ing. Director of Research & Development, EBB Microparts, Crailsheim, Germany
We've seen a lot of new, custom cast requirements in recent weeks. These tend to be large or oversized parts where a standard, stock-sized piece of syntactic foam will not do the job. In most cases, these projects are the result of multiple discussions with customers on specific application requirements. While we have always offered this service, it has sometimes been unclear what options are available and what the limitations are. Now we are releasing new product data sheets (PDS) on custom cast work as well as new HTYAC LPX.
Here at CMT Materials, we like to work with partners and end-users to develop practical information that can help you get more from your plugs. We recently received a summary of tooling and plug trials done by a large thermoforming company and we wanted to share it with you.