CMT Europe B.V. Begins Shipping HYTAC®

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CMT Materials, Inc. Begins Shipping HYTAC® Materials from Dutch Facility

September 3, 2013 – Attleboro, MA and Sprang-Capelle, The Netherlands

CMT Europe BV, designated as a new facility for CMT Materials, Inc., is now open for business and fulfilling orders. The new facility provides customer service and technical support plus same-day shipping within Europe, reducing lead times and transactional costs. CMT customers in Europe will benefit from greatly reduced shipping costs, transactions in Euro and local inventory with duties already paid.

“Improved customer service, faster response times, overall cost savings – I am very pleased with the new set-up, especially since K is just around the corner,” says Conor Carlin, International Sales Manager from CMT Materials, Inc. “Thermoformers and toolmakers have access to the full inventory of HYTAC® syntactic foam products. We’ve had very positive feedback from customers who appreciate the new European presence as well as custom-cut services.”

CMT Europe has 2 full-time employees including a sales engineer and a logistics manager. HYTAC® product manufacturing remains at the US headquarters in Attleboro, Massachusetts to ensure product consistency and quality control.

For more details, contact hytac@cmtmaterials.eu or +31 416 369 094.

About CMT Materials

CMT Materials is the acknowledged leader in the design and development of syntactic foams for use as plug-assist materials. The innovative HYTAC® family of products has been designed specifically for the thermoforming industry.  Plug assist technology allows plastics processors to reduce starting gauge, reduce cycle times and improve material distribution. CMT Materials will be promoting its new line of XTL thermoplastic syntactic foam at several major tradeshows this year including, SPE Thermoforming Conference in September and K in October. For more information, visit www.cmtmaterials.com.

Thermoforming Polypropylene: Syntactic Foam vs. Solid Polymer

We’ve had a lot of discussions over the years with plastics processors about thermoforming polypropylene (PP) cups. PP is susceptible to scratching, especially with deep draw parts such as drink cups. While syntactic foam has become the preferred plug assist material, the high glass content can cause issues with scratching. Therefore, solid engineered thermoplastics such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and polyetherimide (PEI) are sometimes used as plug assists to minimize scratching in transparent PP parts. As we know, several other variables are at play in thermoforming and in the case of PP, sheet temperature can never be overlooked.  Just a few degrees can be the difference between a beautiful, high-clarity part and an imperfect one with scratches.

Digging into the archives, we published a paper showing the results of tests comparing our HYTAC materials with solid polymers. We’re making it available again here via a republished blogpost in case you missed it a few years back.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have challenges with PP? What steps have you taken to improve the process?

CMT Field Notes: 2013 SPE Thermoforming Conference – Part 1

The 2013 Thermoforming Conference has just ended in Atlanta, GA. While the final numbers are still being tallied, judging from the traffic at CMT’s booth, we would suggest that it was another successful event. In fact, we have so much good stuff to share that we’re going to split it into 2 separate blog posts.

Our GM, Terry Woldorf, played a leading role in Monday’s roll-fed thermoforming seminar dubbed, “Mythcrushers: Separating Black Art from Science”. The goal of the seminar was to bring a new level of scientific understanding to the thermoforming process. Dr. Joseph LeBlanc of Penn College presented information on heating and cooling the plastic sheet and mold, drawing from his knowledge as an aerospace engineer. Ian Strachan discussed the many factors that have led to a perception of thermoforming as a “Black Art” while Mark Strachan of uVu Technologies summed it all up with details relative to tooling and techniques to connect the science to the process.

CMT’s perspective on thermoforming is all about the plug assist materials, but we know that our HYTAC materials do not operate in a vacuum (they operate with vacuum, but that’s a bad joke). Because of the multiple variables involved, we stress that processors should appreciate the interplay of sheet temperature, tool design, friction and associated plug choices such as material and geometry.

Beyond the equations and hard science, however, we have seen how best practices can be standardized to give processors the ability to ramp up more efficiently without as much trial and error. As shown in our machining guidelines, we spent 12 months working with toolmakers and suppliers to develop these metrics. Based on the questions posed to Terry after his presentation, it is clear that many people still want guidance on how to mill, polish and clean HYTAC® plugs. Here is an abbreviated version of the Q + A session:

Q: Is centered turning the only way to make plugs from rods? 

A: No, many people use centerless turning machines or even milling machines with cut pieces of rod. Our online turning and/or machining guides contain complete details for the best types of tools, feed and speeds and depths of cut for all types of equipment and sizes of material.

Q: What material do you use for turning?

A: As with milling, solid carbide inserts with positive rake provide the best results.

Q: Should we mill HYTAC materials dry?

A: Yes. Generally speaking, coolant doesn’t really help. In the case of the thermoplastic materials (B1X, XTL), the coolant will actually roughen and destroy the surface as it is machined. Many times, people run their feed rates too slowly or use dull cutting tools so they see overheating and use coolant.  The use of sharp carbide tools and proper feed rates will result in a tool operating near room temperature. Following these steps will provide the best plug surface results.

Q: What’s the best way to clean the plug?

A: Isopropyl alcohol (pure, not those diluted with water) is typically a good option. A light touch with a very fine scuff pad generally works well.

In the next post, we’ll write about the many heavy-gauge projects we discussed where syntactic foam can provide a competitive edge. In the meantime, check out this post on using HYTAC® as a mold material.

CMT Field Notes: 2013 SPE Thermoforming Conference – Part 2

This is the second in our 2-part summary of the 2013 SPE Thermoforming Conference in Atlanta, GA. As we hinted at the end of our last post, CMT had many engaging conversations with heavy gauge thermoformers. The rapidly growing interest for syntactic foam plug assists in the heavy gauge world seems to stem from the following factors:

  • a steady increase in the price of plastics
  • an increase in quality demands from the market
  • an industry-wide focus on reducing scrap, i.e. eliminating waste
  • many, many companies looking to implement “Lean” or Continuous Improvement projects

Our work with Penn College and a number of processors has shown that HYTAC® can be used with great success in thick-sheet, deep-draw applications.

Because many heavy gauge projects have short runs (from a few dozen to several thousand parts) compared to thin-gauge or roll-fed applications, processors tend to be very cost-conscious when it comes to plug materials. Given that syntactic foam can range from $500-1000/ft3, this is not unreasonable. In many cases, a simple wooden plug can be slapped together and short runs can be achieved with minimal problems.  When one stops to consider the total cost of ownership, however, the calculus changes. While wood offers low costs and easy manufacturability, it has limited temperature resistance which becomes problematic for longer dwell times associated with many heavy gauge projects. Wood also has a tendency to mark-off on the plastic which, if texturing and surface finish are important, can result in rejected parts. When used as a plug material, aluminum offers benefits beyond what you get with wood, but aluminum plugs must be heated and precisely controlled in order to achieve optimally formed parts. This adds a level of cost and complexity to the process.

As a result, syntactic foam is gaining acceptance as an option for large part plug assists. Low heat transfer, durability and minimal mark-off are three key reasons why some heavy gauge thermoformers will use syntactic foam. During the show in Atlanta, we had numerous conversations with processors about their positive results with HYTAC® materials. In some instances, they are using HYTAC® in limited fashion as pushers to eliminate webbing while improving material distribution. In other scenarios, syntactic foam can also be used on the clamp frame to minimize chilling of the sheet.

In July 2012, our senior materials engineer, Kathleen Boivin, published a paper that appeared in Plastics Technology. The following excerpt is taken from that piece as it neatly encapsulates much of what we talk about in heavy gauge thermoforming:

“Production volume is the main consideration when deciding whether to go with a full-size plug or localized pusher. For a 24/7 manufacturing operation, the cost of a full-size syntactic plug can be easily justified by the 15% to 20% cost savings per part. The bulk of this savings is achieved through better material distribution, allowing for down-gauging, which also leads to reduced cycle time and lower energy costs.”

If you weren’t at the show and want to learn more about how syntactic foam can work for you, give us a call at 508.226.3901 or fill out our application form.