When we decided to focus on understanding the challenges faced by heavy gauge thermoformers, we thought about a kaleidoscope: turn the lens and see the shapes change. Our industry colleague, Steve Murrill of Profile Plastics, neatly captured the array of variables in thermoforming at the recent European Thermoforming Conference in Spain. When discussing the evolution of thermoforming, one must acknowledge the dilemma posed by the fact that standard part acceptance is driven by statistical process control (SPC) in a closed-loop, injection molding world. Because thermoforming is an open-loop process, the variations in sheet, forming, trim fixture fit, etc., processors are constantly tweaking trim programs at great cost. This leads to the eternal question: how to tighten the process to improve consistency? Better sheet, better forming process control through IT and data analysis and better trim programs will all help, but costs need to be understood and managed so that thermoforming doesn’t lose its competitive edge.
We agree, and we propose that engineered materials, specificially designed for thermoforming, can help reduce variability and improve overall process control. When working with engineered plastic such as TPO, the tools of yesterday simply won’t work for the demands of tomorrow.
HYTAC-LPXT is the newest offering in the CMT lineup of syntactic foams engineered for specific plug assist requirements. LPXT is impregnated with PTFE to provide a smooth, no-stick and mark-off free surface. It is uniquely formulated to meet the requirements of the custom cast and cure approach used for large, complex part geometries in the heavy gauge thermoforming industry. A crack-arresting additive ensures product life for cycle after cycle and year after year performance.
HYTAC-LPXT is available as a solid syntactic or as the outer layer of a two-part system consisting of a core of epoxy-coated large, hollow composite spheres and an exterior of high-performance syntactic foam. It has been designed to enhance the cosmetic appearance of parts made from TPO and other capped materials.