Schaumburg, Ill. — Profile Plastics Inc. was the big winner at the parts competition at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Thermoforming Conference, picking up two awards for heavy-gauge parts and the People’s Choice Award.
A housing for a surgical waste management system used in hospital operating rooms netted Profile Plastics the gold in the heavy-gauge pressure formed category, plus the People’s Choice, which is voted on by conference attendees.
Profile Plastics, of Lake Bluff, Ill., made the cover for an earlier version of the waste system for the unnamed customer. Mark Murrill, vice president of sales and marketing, said this new model hit the market earlier this year.
“It’s a big difference” from the earlier model, said Ramesh Mehta, design and project engineering manager. Company officials talked about the winning medical cover in a Sept. 28 interview at the SPE Thermoforming Conference in Schaumburg.
Profile Plastics played a key role in the new design, working with the customer. “They took a lot of our design suggestions,” Murrill said. “It wasn’t just, ‘Hey here’s a print, make this part.’ It was very interactive, very consultative.”
One big manufacturing change: Profile used negative pressure forming tools instead of the positive vacuum forming tools that had been used in the earlier generation of the part, resulting in improved cosmetic appearance, fewer parts, faster assembly and lower cost.
“It’s more economical cost-wise,” Mehta said. “And also you get a nice appearance like an injection molded part. So that was the whole concept by going from vacuum forming to pressure forming.”
The total assembly —which is done by Profile — uses “very complex tools,” Mehta said. The front cover has seven vacuum-form and three pressure-formed tools, with seven pneumatic slides. The top cover also is a machined aluminum, pressure form tool with five pneumatic slides. Both molds have an in-mold, acid-etched texture.
On the top cover, using the previous positive tool, a required undercut was glued on. “Now on the female tool, it’s molded in,” Murrill said. Profile Plastics was able to reduce primary assembly components by 75 percent, and cut cost by 25 percent.
The main white housing is formed from Kydex acrylic/PVC sheet. Profile Plastics forms the see-through window areas from polycarbonate. Mehta pointed out the warning label, a decoration on the inside of the see-through PC section. The outside surface is clean and smooth. “You can clean this, wipe it. No problem,” Mehta said.
Profile Plastics also grabbed the gold for heavy-gauge innovation, for body protection plates for the chest and back. The parts, formed from anti-fungal thermoplastic urethane, are designed to absorb large amounts of energy, for use in a personal protection application.
The tooling is machined aluminum for the twin-sheet parts, with temperature control. The TPU material and part design require a special trimming system and equipment to cleanly carry out more than 150 high-tolerance vent-hole cuts.
A complex alignment system precisely forms parts on a large number of critical connection points.