Schaumburg, Ill. — Noel Tessier, a chemical engineer, got into composites working at a U.S. Army research center through a co-op program — where his work included thermoforming a Kevlar fabric-reinforced ABS part for a helicopter step well.
And he helped popularize plug-assist tools for thermoforming as one of three founders of CMT Materials Inc.
That work earned Tessier the Lifetime Achievement Award at a banquet Sept. 27 during the Society of Plastics Engineers' Thermoforming Conference.
The materials scientist has more than 35 years of experience in composites. He is senior materials engineer at CMT in Attleboro, Mass.
Before CMT developed the syntactic foam plugs, Tessier said, thermoformers used wood, metal and other materials for plug-assist. The plug pushes the sheet info the female cavity of a thermoforming mold.
Tessier focused on materials research and the glass microspheres that became a key component in syntactic foam structures.
Tessier earned a chemical engineering degree from Northeastern University, and went to work in the Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center. He went on get a master's degree in plastics engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. From then on, he worked with thermoforming and syntactic foams.
It was during a stint as technical director at microsphere maker Emerson & Cuming where he was introduced to composite foams as plug materials for thermoforming. Company salesman Jim Teague introduced Tessier to industry leaders at the second SPE Thermoforming Conference in Saginaw, Mich.
Following that conference, he worked with consultant Bill McConnell. At another conference, he spent time with John Griep, the founder of Portage Casting & Mold Inc.
“We had adjacent booths and I learned from him as we talked,” he said. “I also spent much more time with Ian Munnoch and thermoformers at this conference.” He met Karel Kouba, who had modeled the thermoforming process.
After leaving Emerson & Cuming, he joined with Tony Colageo and Thomas Murray to form CMT.
Bret Joslyn, chairman of SPE's Thermoforming Division, called Tessier “a true trailblazer.
“This vast experience and remarkable accomplishments are inspirational to us all,” Joslyn said.
Tessier said going to the thermoforming conferences got him excited about the industry. “I set a goal to come up with new thermoforming products,” he said. “I never dreamed I would be standing here receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.”