2021 SPE Thermoforming Conference: Grand Rapids

After a year of shutdowns, speculation and doubt, the thermoforming industry converged on Grand Rapids, MI for its bi-annual SPE Thermoforming Conference. In a normal year, the SPE conference serves as an opportunity to network with industry colleagues or perhaps see the unveiling of new products. This year however, offered everyone the ability to do something we haven’t been able to do in almost 2 years; come together and meet face-to-face.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging for many companies to visit customers or stay in touch with connections around the thermoforming industry. With travel restrictions slowly relaxing and updated guidelines for indoor capacity gathering, there was a sense of normalcy that many people found refreshing. The CMT sales team was eager to see everyone and to share what we have been working on over the past 24 months.

The conference kicked off with two insightful workshops, one pertaining to thin gauge thermoforming led by Mark Strachan and one focused on heavy gauge thermoforming led by Robert Browning and Don Hylton of McConnel Company. Both sessions had strong in-person attendance as well as the online livestream. The workshops were organized in a hybrid format that allowed people to tune into the livestream and view the presentations. There was also a live Q+A forum online that virtual attendants could use to raise questions to the presenters. This was a good opportunity for exhibitors and other industry members to gain useful knowledge, whether they are a seasoned pro or completely new to the industry everyone had something they took away from these workshops.

As the show opened on Tuesday and attendees started filling the aisles, the CMT booth soon found itself full of familiar faces. The main topics of conversation were how to best optimize your thermoforming processes to get the most out of your plug assist material, which material would be best suited for certain applications, and the two new products that CMT was displaying during the show.

Two newly designed HYTAC products made appearances for the first time and were met with positive feedback from customers. We will have more information as we get closer to launching the two products; please reach out to the CMT sales staff for more information. There were plenty of queries about our existing product line as well; with customers asking for recommendations of which plug assist material to pair with the plastic film they were working with.

CMT Materials also had the chance to participate in a presentation session where CMT Sales Manager, Jamie Stebbins, joined Julie Griswold of Sharples to discuss advancements in steel rule die and plug assist technologies. They led a discussion about new developments at their respective companies and what trends they were seeing in the market. CMT shared information about their current product line, future products, and what changes we’ve made to better improve our products and processes. The Q+A portion of the presentation saw several thoughtful questions regarding our new upcoming HYTAC material and the different application it can be used for, as well as questions regarding machining and operating tips.

CMT Materials was proud to be a sponsor of the conference and we were encouraged to see the level of attendance and engagement from both exhibitors and attendees. We value the opportunity to share information on our material and foster valuable relationships within the industry.