Thomas W. Winstead, who co-founded plastics packaging maker Hedwin Corp. in 1946 and invented the Cubitainer collapsible cube-shaped container with a recessed spout for pouring liquids, died Jan. 14. He was 101.
Today Hedwin, now a division of Zacros America Inc., still makes the Cubitainer. Zacros Americas' website said the polyethylene container is very versatile.
"The Cubitainer has served as the shipping package for everything from battery acid to delicate Japanese sake to inert deionized water."
According to a company history posted on the Zacros America website, Winstead and Lenox Burkhed started Hedwin in Baltimore. The company made plastic bottles and vessels. About 10 years later, Winstead filed patent applications for new products and manufacturing processes — early plastics packaging that became the Cubitainer.
At first, the Cubitainer was formed by manually stapling polyethylene sheets to a frame. The frame was heated, softening the plastic, and then each half-container was thermoformed in half of a mold. Two mold halves were then pushed together to seal the two sheets, forming the cube. When the sheets were cooled, an operator cut out the finished cube.
Today, fully automated production lines in Newark, Del., turn out thousands of Cubitainers every day.
Hedwin also developed pail and drum liners and blow molded containers.
The founders sold Hedwin to Solvay Corp. in 1958 and Winstead founded Thomas W. Winstead & Co. to develop and manufacture extrusion equipment, as well as Gulf States Plastic Corp.
Hedwin remained part of the global plastics and chemical firm until 2004. Workers then took over the business through an employee stock ownership plan.
The Baltimore plant was damaged by fire in mid-2013, leading Hedwin to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It closed in 2016. The operation owned by Zacros,moved to a larger, more modern production facility in Newark.
Other film packaging products made by Zacros America include the Flowpack single use pouches for liquids and Z-Tainer, gusseted bag for bag-in-box applications.