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SPE thermoformers tag winners

By: Bill Bregar

September 28, 2012

A large house for raising dairy calves netted silver for Hampel Corp. of Germantown, Wis.

Hampel has sold more than 400,000 of the calf houses worldwide, since it introduced the proprietary product line in 1981. Those shelters provide an optimal environment for the growth of nearly 2 million calves a year.

The part requires a 67-inch draw depth. It measures 98.5 inches long by 60.5 inches wide by 57 inches tall — formed from a single sheet of high-molecular-weight polyethylene. The raw sheet is 0.375 inch thick; the finished material, 0.1- to 0.2-inch thick.

Because the part was so big, and so it could run on existing thermoforming machines, Hampel designed a draw box, in which the pneumatic doors close to create pre-draw and then open back up to aid the cooling process.

The shelter contains an undercut that was designed to release itself from the tool, without the need for a core pull.

Hampel officials said this is the only brand of calf housing on the market made by the thermoforming process.

Pressure forming:

Molded Plastic Industries Inc. of Holt, Mich., took silver for its compressed natural gas tank for a pickup truck, featuring molded-in features.

Molded Plastic forms the heavy-duty part from Mytex Polymers’ coextruded MetaForm engineered material. Designers had considered fiber-reinforced plastic and metal, but neither material offered the flexibility of design for the styling required.

The customer is Westport Light Duty Inc. of Plymouth, Wis.

Castek Aluminum Inc. of Elyria, Ohio, build the forming tools, on a lead time of less than eight weeks.

On the show floor in Grand Rapids, the natural gas tank sat in the bed of a Ford F-250 Super Duty XLT pickup. Molded Plastic officials said the tank meets Ford Motor Co.’s tests for durability, load tests and tests to measure drop impact of a shovel, pitchfork, sledge hammer or 2-by-4 board.

Judges Award

 The Judges Award went to vacuum former Craft Originators Inc. of Hamilton, Ontario, and molder Tasus Corp. of Bloomington, Ind., for an automotive audio speaker grill. The film for thermoforming is a Sabic high-gloss piano-black polycarbonate that meets Chrysler Group LLC’s DX9 specification.

Stabilization of the material was achieved with an extended pre-bake phase, and vacuum forming was performed under strict mold, material and air temperature controls.

Precision formed and trimmed parts were inserted into the grill mold and backshot with PC/ABS.