Next week we’ll be in Chicago (well, Wheeling, IL) for the annual Thin Wall Packaging Conference (link to full program here). Our colleagues at CMT Europe attended the European event in Cologne in December and we exhibited at the North American event last May. With thermoforming, extrusion and injection molding technologies at the core of the program, this event appears to be gaining momentum and credibility as an important venue for the packaging industry.
This year, we’ll be presenting a paper titled, “Light-Weighting 101: The Impact of Plug Material Selection on Overall Part Cost.” For those who are not able to attend, an abstract is offered in this blogpost. If you plan to attend, be sure to stop by our tabletop and bring your toughest thermoforming questions.
The ability to down-gauge plastic sheet in the thermoforming process is greatly enhanced through the judicious use of plug-assist techniques. Through optimized material distribution, thermoformers can improve process efficiency and achieve lighter weight products without sacrificing quality.
Plug-assist materials typically comprise a small percentage of the overall costs associated with a thermoformed package project. When viewed relative to the cost of the finished part however, one sees that careful selection and processing of plug-assist materials can have an outsized impact on part quality, part weight and therefore part cost. So how does one make a determination between one plug material and another?
In this presentation, we will examine the different features and benefits of plug-assist materials with particular emphasis on 3 properties: coefficient of friction, surface roughness (Ra) and thermal conductivity. In addition, we will discuss methods to achieve the optimal surface characteristics for syntactic foam plug materials that will lead to consistent plug performance.