INDEPENDENCE, OHIO - If Gerard Furbershaw of Lunar Design Inc. were judging a parts competition, he would look for cleverness, craftsmanship - and whether the vendor remained true to the customer's vision. Sophistication and visual appeal distinguish a product from other ``blobjects'' in its class, said Furbershaw, who heads product design at the Palo Alto, Calif., firm. For thermoformers, the test is how well they can replicate the complexities of the product's design.
Judges of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division's annual parts competition held this year in Independence probably would agree. They picked this year's winners based on mold complexity, the challenge of the trim, process innovations, part features and material difficulty, while seeking out the ``uniquely different,'' said Roger Fox, event coordinator. Fox is sales manager at Maac Machinery Co. Inc. in Itasca, Ill.
Profile Plastics Corp. of Lake Bluff, Ill., made a close-tolerance, three-piece medical enclosure for Cabot Medical Corp. that captured the award for heavy-gauge pressure forming. The unit, formed from an ABS/PVC blend, features snap fits, raised lettering, molded-in inserts and undercuts. Many people had a hand in the project, including industrial designer Robert Case + Associates of Chicago, said Profile sales manager Joe Bachochin. Profile's main challenge was in matching multiple pieces using a one-sided tool, he said.
A military aircraft duct took the twin-sheet award. Specialty Manufacturing Inc. of San Diego made the S-shaped duct for an undisclosed customer. The firm chose twin-sheet forming for the part, which requires ``a very secure bond along the seam line,'' to endure extreme pressures and temperatures, said sales manager Haydn Forward.
Hoosier Fiberglass Industries Inc. of Terre Haute, Ind., won the heavy-gauge vacuum forming award for a hovercraft used in the agricultural industry, made for Eglen Hovercraft, also of Terre Haute. The vehicle contains 450 pounds of plastic, an ABS/PC blend, and is five times stronger than steel by weight, said Hovercraft President Dick Tucker.
Winners in other categories:
A guide-wire protector made by Method Associates Inc. of Keypoint, N.J., won the thin-gauge vacuum forming award.
Creative Forming Inc. of Ripon, Wis., received the thin-gauge pressure forming award for its easel roll dispenser made from reprocessed PET.
The People's Choice Award went to a blood anaylzer that Gregstrom Corp. of Woburn, Mass., pressure formed for Bayer Inc.