CMT Materials Gears Up for K 2013

In just two weeks, the tri-annual K Fair will kick off in Dusseldorf. The venerable global plastics trade show is now its 60th year and we’re sure that the halls of the massive Messe will be crammed full of international visitors. Beyond business meetings in the multi-level booths from polymer giants and plastics multinationals, attendees will be treating themselves to the hearty German fare being served up. Schweinhaxen, anyone?

Given the correspondence in recent weeks, it’s clear that tool designers, processors and machinists from all over the world will be congregating at our booth in Hall 3, Stand B52. We’re planning on serving up plenty of information, tips and guidelines on HYTAC® syntactic foam with an emphasis on new XTL thermoplastic syntactic. We’ll be there with our distribution partners from Europe and Asia to display cutting tools and share best practices from around the world. Here’s a short version of our dance card:

HYTAC® XTL: The Next Generation Thermoplastic Syntactic.  This mauve colored material was developed to improve our popular HYTAC®-B1X line by creating a thermoplastic that was both easy to machine and polish.  HYTAC®-XTL also surpasses B1X in toughness while offering the lowest thermal conductivity and lowest thermal expansion of any thermoplastic syntactic foam.  Developed in 2012 and commercialized in 2013, it is quickly growing in popularity as the “do-it-all” syntactic plug material.  The easily polished surface is ideal for use with transparent plastics and easy sheet release while surviving the most demanding applications.

HYTAC® plug material is being used in multiple show tools for all the major OEMs including IlligKiefelGablerOMGGNWM and it will also be on display for several key thermoform tooling companies including BoschSprangMarbachTermostampiMould & Matic and Techno Tool A/S

So if you’re going to Dusseldorf, be sure to visit us in Hall 3, Stand B52. And if you can’t make it, be sure to check back with us to read our report of the show.

Syntactic Foam and Package Design

It’s very easy to spot a thermoforming professional in the grocery store. The person craning their neck to look at the bottom of a package isn’t your average shopper. Most people don’t stop to admire the latest in packaging innovations, but they certainly shout from the rooftops when they can’t open a sealed clamshell.

We often talk about thermoforming in terms of ‘black art vs. science‘ but when it comes to package design, it’s all about science. There are several key pre-requisites for any thermoformed package across industries, including rigidity and clarity. Features such as impact resistance and ease of de-nesting (the ability to stack, or ‘nest’, one tray on top of another without sticking) are considered. Material selection therefore is of primary importance. Each material type has its own characteristics and film suppliers generally provide the appropriate documentation outlining specific properties including specific gravity, tensile strength and, perhaps most importantly, thermoforming temperature. But it’s not only about the sheet. Our extensive work on the interplay among several variables including sheet, plug and temperatures reveal distinctions that can make a big difference in final part quality.

Syntactic foam plug assists are purpose-engineered for thermoforming and provide unique properties that result in superior packaging. When it comes to package design, form and function must be balanced. Design engineers use state-of-the-art software to create innovative and eye-catching packages while still maintaining the fundamental goal of protecting and displaying the product inside. Syntactic foam plug assists aid in the design process by pre-stretching the sheet into position without removing heat or affecting its formability.  This is critical because the design work is based on material specifications which are based on specific, optimal sheet forming temperatures.  Overheating a sheet is often the cause of loss of plastic orientation, lower strength, loss of clarity, sheet stick to the plug and a wide range of uncontrolled issues, all due to compensation for a plug that chilled the sheet on contact.

So the next time you check the bottom of the package or cup and you’re thinking about the recycling code, stop for a few seconds to consider the amount of upstream design and engineering that went into the plastic shape that is protecting your purchase.

K 2013 Comes to a Close

After a solid 8 days at the Messe Dusseldorf, the CMT team is heading home. The K Fair is a truly global event and with stacks of business cards from thermoformers and toolmakers all over the world, the prospects for syntactic foam plug assists are looking bright.

Many conversations began with, “What is the best material for PET / PP?” With HYTAC plugs in almost every major thermoforming booth, users could see for themselves the benefits of different plug properties and geometries. Whether it was XTL in the Bosch-Sprang booth or B1X in the Illig booth, PET cups were cyrstal clear. GN and Kiefel ran with FLX and FLXT plugs for PP and PET cookie trays and drink cups.

What is also clear is that HYTAC translates quite easily into many languages! German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Mandarin… our booth was filled with international visitors, partners, distributors and thermoforming experts looking to learn more about XTL, the newest and toughest syntactic foam on the market.

K is a fantastic event, but after this trip, we’re glad it’s only once every 3 years. Tschuss!