Field Notes: National Hands-On Thin Gauge Thermoforming Workshop

By Terry Woldorf, General Manager, CMT Materials

“Highly interactive.”   “Informative.”  “Surprising.”  “Great combination of lab, lecture and science and fun.”  These are just a sampling of comments overheard at the 4th annual National Hands-On Thin Gauge Thermoforming Workshop.

CMT Materials, Inc. again was invited to present in the lectures and participate in the lab.  The three day course equally balances classroom instruction time with hands-on lab time. The workshop covers a wide range of planned topics but also intentionally allows for flexibility to cover unplanned topics raised by participants.

The workshop takes place each year at Penn College of Technology campus in Williamsport, PA and is part of their Workforce Development and Continuing Education program in the Plastics Innovation and Resource Center (PIRC).  Attendees from as far away as Wisconsin, Florida, Texas and Michigan mixed with others from nearby states to fill the roster to its cutoff capacity of 30 people.  Keeping the group small ensures instructors and guest speakers are able to interact and fully explore topics, effects as well as the inevitable surprises from process-related matters in the extrusion, thermoforming or testing labs.

Hosted by Chris Gagliano, PIRC Program Manager –Thermoforming, and instructed by Mark Strachan, President of uVu Technologies, lectures included:

Dr. Kirk Cantor (Penn College):                   “Raw Material & Sheet Extrusion for Thermoforming”

Mark Strachan (uVu Technologies):          “Fundamentals of Thermoforming, Advanced Thermoforming Techniques, Trimming and Stacking”

Robert Wandelt (uVu Technologies):        “Thermoforming Quality Control and Process Monitoring”

Julie Griswold (WR Sharples Co.):              “Structural Design Considerations When Building Steel Rule Trim Dies”

Terry Woldorf (CMT Materials):                  “Plug-assist Material Selection, Geometry, Processing Methods and ROI Calculations”

Robert Borse (Angle Tool Works):                “Tool Design”

Dr. Joseph LeBlanc (Penn College):             “The Physics of Heating and Cooling the Sheet”

Bill Norderer (Raytek):                                     “Thermal Imaging Tools and Techniques”

These topics combined with multiple break-out group lab sessions where participants ran equipment, tested new and old procedures, interacted with each other, students and full-time PIRC employees. Participants generally tried to prove/disprove a wide variety of theories and traditional “best-practice” approaches to the thermoforming process.

If you missed out on this year’s event, be sure to contact the school to sign up next year.