Success for thermoformers comes to those willing to change the perception of what the process can do.
Award winners at the Society of Plastics Engineers annual Thermoforming Conference, held Sept. 15-17 in Nashville, took on work that normally would not have gone into production through thermoforming.
That ability to adapt is part of the industry's growing technological capabilities, according to Jay Waddell, conference chairman.
``The industry is becoming more precise about what we can do,'' he said.
Waddell pointed to the overflow crowds for some technical sessions at the conference - with total attendance for the event at 1,098 - as evidence that thermoformers are anxious to do more.
The adaptability of thermoforming came through for Thermoform SA of Bogot , Colombia, the winner of the automotive award in the cut-sheet division.
French automaker Renault SA wanted to increase local supplier production for its cars produced in the South American country, aiming to have a regional firm turn out bumper fascia for its small cars. The production base there, though, was not able to produce an injection molded component for the low-volume production of 7,000 vehicles per year.
Mold builder Borke Mold Specialists Inc. of Hamilton, Ohio, made the aluminum tool for Thermoform.
Universal Protective Packaging Inc., meanwhile, was able to convince its end customer that plastic could make a functional container for a crayon box.
Binney & Smith Inc., the owners of Crayola crayons, first planned to use a nonfunctional plastic wrapper around its box of 96 crayons and a CD-ROM as part of its interactive coloring book package.
Thermoformer Universal Protective Packaging Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., came up with a new concept, a functional PVC container to replace the standard paperboard.
The part, using a mold from L.L. Brown Inc., won the award for consumer packaging in the roll-fed division.
Dimension One Spas of Vista, Calif., used thermoforming on an aquatic version of a treadmill and won the conference's People's Choice award. The AquaFit line includes one spa measuring 19 feet long, 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep.
Other categories and winners in the cut-sheet division are:
* Consumer entertainment, Profile Plastics Corp. of Lake Bluff, Ill., for side covers for a recumbent stationary bicycle.
* Material handling, TriEnda Corp. of Portage, Wis., for an exhaust manifold pack.
* Electronic enclosure, Specialty Manufacturing Inc. of San Diego for the Versadoc imaging system.
* Multipart assembly, Productive Plastics Inc., Mount Laurel, N.J., for a medical assembly.
* Industrial, Spencer Industries Inc. of Dale, Ind., for the ``stealth model'' twin-sheet grille.
* Point of purchase, Alltrista Thermoformed Products Inc. of Portage, Wis., for its 72-inch-round banquet folding table.
Other categories and winners in the roll-fed division are:
* Consumer housewares, Creative Forming of Ripon, Wis., for a clamshell for a box insert into a window box.
* Critical barrier packaging, Prent Corp. of Janesville, Wis., for a medical tray with enclosed protective drape.
* Consumer electronics, Andex Industries Inc. of Escanaba, Mich., for the clamshell packaging on a binocular system.
* Food container, PBM Plastics Inc. of Newport News, Va., for an infant formula bottle liner.
* Industrial packaging, Universal Protective Packaging for a five-lens tray.