CMT Field Notes: Early Thoughts from NPE 2015

We have just wrapped up the first 2 days of NPE 2015 in Orlando, Florida. With almost 60,000 attendees expected, the halls and booths at the show are buzzing with activity. Our booth has been a hive of activity with customers and partners from all over the world coming by to talk about the finer points of plug assisted thermoforming as well as other tooling materials for thermoforming.

The big news for us is the release of our HYTAC C1R study which we developed in conjunction with partners at Milliken Chemical and uVu Technologies.

Here is a summarized version of the release. Keep an eye out for the full story in the plastics trade press this month:

CMT Materials Study Reveals Performance Benefits of Syntactic Plug Assists for Thermoforming of Transparent PP Parts

Findings Show Superior Performance in Haze, Material Distribution and Crush Strength Compared to Solid Polymer Plug Assists

ATTLEBORO, Mass., March 23, 2015 – A new study released by CMT Materials, Inc., the world’s leading supplier of plug-assist materials for the thermoforming industry, reveals that syntactic foam plug assists deliver greater performance benefits than solid polymer plug assists for thermoforming of transparent polypropylene (PP) parts. While measuring the influence of different plug-assist materials, CMT scientists found statistically significant improvements in haze, material distribution, and crush strength for thermoformed PP parts which utilized syntactic foam plug assists. Plug surface quality which was affected by machining and polishing techniques was also identified as a critical factor

“Many thermoformers are responding to the increased use of PP for high-clarity applications, primarily in the food and beverage sectors,” says Conor Carlin, HYTAC Sales Manager. “Because PP has a narrow thermoforming window compared to PET or PS, it is critical that the interface between the heated sheet and the plug-assist material is well understood.”

The formed part was a 3.5-in (89 mm) tall cup with a rim inner diameter of 2.6-in (66 mm) and a bottom diameter of 2-in (51 mm), resulting in a draw ratio of 3.4. HYTAC®-C1R resulted in cups with 20% lower haze compared to PEI.  Forming cups with C1R instead of PEI also resulted in a 10% increase in cup weight. In addition, cups formed with C1R weighed 3% more than those formed with acetal.

“HYTAC®-C1R has a high-friction copolymer base which maximizes the ability to pull sheet material into the tool compared to other plug materials,” said Kathleen Boivin, Materials Engineer at CMT, who led the study. Forming with HYTAC®-C1R increased the minimum sidewall thickness by 28% compared to PEI and 20% compared to acetal. For thermoformers, part thickness is related to crush resistance. 

We’ll be back with more thoughts and insights from the show during the week. For more instantaneous updates, check out our Twitter feed @cmtmaterials.