FORT MITCHELL, KY. - A seat for small children with physical disabilities took the innovation award at the SPE Thermoforming Division's parts competition, held during its recent conference in Fort Mitchell. In all, seven thermoformed parts, out of 32 entries, won honors in seven categories, including for value-added assembly, a brand-new category this year. Judges looked at innovation, part features, mold and trim complexity and material difficulty. Their collective expertise covered the complete range of criteria, said Paul Spies, who coordinated the event and owns Dynamic Plastic Solutions, a thermoforming equipment representative and consultant in York, Pa.
Prestige Pattern & Model Inc. is in its second run of the child's seat, which comprises 11 separate parts - 10 colored ABS components and a clear tray of glycol-modified PET, said spokeswoman Laura Cramer. Prestige took over the seat's production from Stan-ford University, which was eking out about one a month, she said.
Prestige makes, assembles and ships 200 seats every six months or so from its Holland, Mich., plant to Bissell Inc.'s Sammons Preston Division in Bolingbrook, Ill.
When customers reported problems assembling the unit, such as being unable to distinguish shoulder straps from seat belts, the company brought assembly in-house. The seat sells for more than $1,000.
Profile Plastics Corp. of Lake Bluff, Ill., took the heavy-gauge pressure formed part award for the second year in a row, this time for a family of eight acrylic/PVC control panel covers for an X-ray table manufactured by GE Medical Systems in Waukesha, Wis. Profile used a machined aluminum tool with a fine acid-etched texture to create a cosmetic surface without painting, said sales director Joe Ba-chochin. The covers replaced structural foam parts.
The twin-sheet prize went to an enclosure for the pulley assembly on a combination trainer for exercise equipment maker Precor USA of Bothell, Wash. Spencer Industries Inc. of Dale, Ind., formed two 250-mil sheets of high-impact polystyrene to make the cover, which is 23 inches deep, said Spencer President Tom Messmer.
A surgical air filtration system, made and assembled by McClarin Plastics Inc. of Hanover, Pa., won the first-ever value-added assembly award. The filtration system featured multiple parts thermoformed from flame-retardant ABS, undercuts, bonding and assembly. McClarin also built the molds.
Universal Protective Packag-ing Inc. won in the thin-gauge category with a bi-fold package it de-signed and vacuum formed of static-dissipative PVC, for a printed circuit board. The PCB is loaded into the center panel, which snaps shut, sealing it off from diskettes and manuals packaged with it.
``Once the desired amount of pressure on the button snaps was achieved, we were able to settle in and produce them repeatedly,'' said George Herman, design engineer for the Mechanicsburg, Pa., thermoformer.
When Monroe Truck Equip-ment Inc. needed to convert a Chevy truck to right-hand drive, it asked Paramount Plastics Inc. to design the dash panel. That 16-piece ABS panel won Paramount of Elkhart, Ind., the heavy-gauge vacuum forming award. Para-mount undertook the project sans a blueprint-its Monroe, Wis., customer sent it a truck to study, said Rex Lim, Paramount president. The panel is being exported as a kit to South Africa.
The popular pick among attendees this year was Freetech Plastics Inc.'s submission: six separate thermoformed painted ABS covers for a laser used in cosmetic facial surgery. Freetech makes the enclosures for Coher-ent Medical Group's UltraPulse laser, which uses quick, high-energy pulses to vaporize tissue.
The 5-year-old technology has been housed in Freetech's handiwork for about 11/2 years. The molds were designed and built in-house at Freetech's Fremont, Calif., plant, said Rich Freeman, who heads Freetech.
All six pressure formed parts had undercuts, and required ex-tensive CNC machining. The front cover - a deep-draw part - has big, molded-in air vents and 1-inch undercuts, which hide fasteners, giving it a clean look. Freeman accepted the People's Choice award at the Sept. 30 awards banquet in Fort Mitchell.