Thermoforming parts – winning designs

THE Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Division has announced the winners of its annual parts competition.

“A variety of heavy and thin gauge parts of exceptional quality were submitted to this year’s competition,” noted Matt O’Hagan of the SPE Thermoforming Division’s Board of Directors. “This year’s winning entries highlighted the innovation that continues to evolve in the thermoforming industry.” The gold winner in the People’s Choice & Heavy gauge pressure form categories was Profile Plastics for ‘medical cart enclosure’.

The medical cart is an innovative surgical system providing flexibility during various surgical procedures. The primary cart unit consists of seven pressure formed enclosure parts, and the secondary cart unit consists of three pressure formed enclosure parts, both using PC‐ABS material to meet a stringent rigidity, chemical, heat and highly cosmetic requirements. Customer parameters required zero or minimum mechanical attachment features which presented many unique forming challenges. Many of the attachment features were innovatively moulded‐in to meet the customer’s requirements. Bonded-in fastening features on the non‐cosmetic side of the part were also required to be kept at zero or at a minimum.

The final design incorporated numerous movements on each tool to provide fastening features as well as cosmetic finished seams. The primary cart’s interaction between the rear top cover and the side covers presented numerous challenges to achieve a hidden fastening system and maintain cosmetic alignment between the parts.

Complex core pulls were used on the upper cover to incorporate slots for a work surface table. While the secondary cart’s large front cover presented numerous challenges with 4‐way undercuts due to the extreme draw depth. The final design on this part allowed the elimination of additional side panels and reduced overall tooling cost. With the application being used in a surgical environment, the customer also required stringent and detailed validation and thorough quality procedures and documentation.