logo

Thermoformer Tru-Form diversifying into aerospace market

By: Roger Renstrom

June 11, 2013

Custom thermoformer Tru-Form Plastics Inc. of Gardena, Calif., has positioned itself for additional aircraft business as a complement to its strength in housings for medical gear.

For the medical and aerospace markets, “the common denominators are quality, moderate volume, low tool cost and short lead time,” said Jack Schrieffer, sales manager.

Tru-Form decided in September 2011 to begin an ISO certification process, in part to expand its market opportunities providing parts to original equipment manufacturers and replacement suppliers for aircraft interior and galley applications.

To gain the credentials, Tru-Form invested slightly more than $100,000 for consulting fees, registrar procedures and project-related employee time en route to certification to ISO 9001:2008 and AS 9100:2009 in accordance with the requirements of aerospace-oriented AS 9104A.

The effort involved reviews of Tru-Form’s quality management system including procedures and controls, employee training, process documentation, implementation of process metrics and pre-audit assessments.

National Quality Assurance USA of Acton, Mass., issued the certification to Tru-Form on Feb. 4. NQA conducted a preliminary review in the fall of 2012 and a three-day audit starting Jan. 2. NQA is a trading name of Ascertiva Group Ltd., a subsidiary of the London-based Electrical Safety Council.

In conjunction with the advance, “we went to a new computer operating system that was helpful for the ISO certification process but not strictly for this purpose so related costs are not included in the $100,000,” Schrieffer said.

Currently, Tru-Form’s largest end markets are medical test equipment enclosures and panels and transportation components for recreational vehicle, automotive aftermarket, marine, motorcycle and golf cart applications.

Also, Tru-Form has a lighting business that includes lenses, reflectors and other components for indoor and outdoor commercial lighting fixtures.

Tru-Form has listings with UL LLC, the safety science and standards development firm, for specialized capabilities to shield materials and substrates of electronic equipment from waves causing electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference.

Tru-Form occupies 50,000 square feet and operates six ZMD International Inc. machines. Four are dedicated for vacuum forming, and two have capabilities for both vacuum and pressure forming.

Recently, Tru-Form decided to remove from storage, and revamp, a Drypoll-made pressure forming press. Tru-Form aims to begin operating that seventh press in July.

Tru-Form operates two DMS and two MotionMaster computer-numerical-control trimming centers. Each has five-axis capability and a standard-size table of 5 feet by10 feet. Tru-Form uses the tooling centers for tool builds and the machining of metal and plastic parts.

Established in 1956, privately-owned Tru-Form employs 35 including two programmers for CNC machines and tool-build processes and, typically, one or two operators for the tooling centers.

For the five months ended May 31, Tru-Form recorded 2013 sales growth of more than 18 percent versus the comparable period in 2012, Schrieffer said.