Ian Strachan, a 45-year thermoforming veteran, is the new Thermoformer of the Year, the Society of Plastics Engineers' Thermoforming Division announced March 21.
Strachan will receive the award at an awards dinner held at the SPE Thermoforming Conference, Sept.26-28 in Schaumburg, Ill.
“Ian Strachan is a major contributor in process development and improvement in the thermoforming industry,” said Bret Joslyn, chairman of the SPE Thermoforming Division. “He continues to innovate and to consult around the world to help improve thermoforming and auxiliary processes. Ian has also played a pivotal role in assisting small and developing countries to adopt thermoforming technology for the food and fruit processing industries.”
A native of South Africa, Strachan entered the thermoforming industry in 1971, when he became general manager of the Elvinco Group of Cos. where he worked in thermoforming, injection molding, blow molding and extrusion. Before that job, Strachan worked in specialty metal production, and with the South African Mint to upgrade and implement its production management and control systems.
From 1974 to 1988, Strachan was managing director for Nampak Ltd.'s Mono Containers unit, involved in thermoforming and steam chest molding of packaging products. He went on to manage several subsidiary companies specializing in thermoforming and extrusion, where he developed new packaging manufacturing processes that are still used today in those markets.
With the support of Strachan's friend, Frank Nissel, Mono Containers developed multi-layer barrier packaging in the first applications outside of the United States, according to SPE.
Strachan also was the first to introduce crystalline PET (CPET) packaging outside of the United States, with the blessing of a past Thermoformer of the Year, George Lueken, who invented the process.
Strachan also developed thermoformed in-mold labeling and several other technologies for Unilever in the mid-1980s.
From 1988 to 1992, Strachan served as CEO and deputy chairman of the Sun Packaging Group, a major packaging company in South Africa, with an international presence and operations in Japan and the United States. Sun operations led the development of biopolymers.
He later formed MGA Southern Africa Pty. Ltd. and MGA Inc., an international consulting firm focused in packaging and thermoforming. More recently, he acquired ToolVu LLC, which provides a real-time process management system that monitors what is happening in a thermoforming mold.