CMT Materials is a designer and manufacturer of syntactic foam materials for the thermoforming industry. The Attleboro, Mass.-based firm offers a full inventory of Hytac-brand plug-assist materials in standard rod, sheet and block formats.
CMT Managing Director Terrence Woldorf recently took some time to share his thoughts on K 2019 and on the industry in general with Plastics News.
Q: What type of growth is your firm seeing in its plastics business this year? Which end markets are performing best?
Woldorf: With the current attack on the plastics market, CMT growth comes from the many companies working on more intricate and detailed thermoformed plastic parts. While our products continue to have strength for food and drink packaging, stronger growth is coming from medical and electronics markets seeking to reduce time to market for their offerings. This, in turn, leads to growth of our higher-performance (high friction/high durability and easily polished surface) Hytac products.
Q: What is your firm's focus at K 2019? Why is the event important?
Woldorf: K remains the world premier event for engineers, toolmakers and producers of plastic products. CMT['s] focus has always been one of mutual education between our product development/how-best-to-use instructional teams and our customers' need to minimize the amount of plastic required to produce their products. The end result of reduced costs and improved performance for our customers inevitably leads to new product developments at CMT.
Q: Where is your emphasis on new products via research and development now?
Woldorf: While CMT Hytac's unique properties as plug assist are well known and remain unchallenged in the thin-gauge market, differing challenges in the heavy-gauge market currently engage our R&D team in development of new Hytac formulations/processes to optimize plastic sheet distribution when used as a positive drape forming material. We are seeing great results in reducing starting gauge thickness, tightening dimensional tolerances and reducing part-to-part deviation for CMT customers. Our focus is to provide heavy-gauge toolmakers with an optimized tool without the high cost and limitation of a fully temperature-controlled aluminum mold.
Q: How are global economic conditions affecting your plastics business? Is the firm concerned about a possible global recession?
Woldorf: While we have not seen any significant decrease in overall CMT business, we do see shifts in the type of markets producing new plastic product designs and seeking entry into plastic packaging. As noted earlier, our focus on close interaction with CMT customers to optimize their thermoforming process through use of Hytac plug-assist technology keeps us quite busy.
Q: How is your firm working to meet its own sustainability goals or those of its customers?
Woldorf: CMT sustainability goals continue to drive a continuous improvement process focused on balancing the challenges of immediate economic pressure with environmental concerns and social conscience. With regard to economic pressures, we now find customers previously complacent using our most popular products to be testing both our lower-cost materials and our specialized performance products. In nearly all cases, the customers have found significant wins in reducing their plastic use and waste through use of a specialized performance — for example, higher friction/more easily modified surface — products. Environmentally, we are finding new uses for our own internal waste stream improves employee satisfaction and creates new market opportunities. On the social side, like others in the industry, we remain frustrated at the misinformed efforts of those thinking "no plastic" is a better solution than increasing recycling capabilities and changing consumer behavior on trash disposal.
Q: What are your firm's expectations for the plastics market in 2020 and beyond?
Woldorf: While CMT products are used in many industries, our Hytac-brand product focus in the plastic market remains front and center. We anticipate continued growth far in to the future.