Thermoforming has traditionally been a large consumer of the plastic sheet marketed by our industry
and yet it is an often overlooked manufacturing
conversion process due to the “low tech” but vital steps
required to produce a commercial product.
According to Plastic Engineering’s Thermoforming
Buyers’ Guide, there were over 150 companies in the US
engaged in the manufacturing of either thermoforming
equipment and/or producing thermoformed plastic products,
primarily from sheet. It is estimated that this process
consumes over 50% of the thermoplastic sheet product
produced in the US.
Thus, it behooves all in our industry to learn more about
this market and to participate in its growth, which is estimated
to be in double digits per year, for the balance of
Speaking of growth products and markets, in another
category – high-tech future materials – comes organic
light emitting diodes (OLEDS). An innovative plastic
screen was unveiled this year on a digital camera from
Kodak, based on the materials research team of Dow
Chemical, Motorola and Xerox. They developed polymer
inks and printing methods that can spew out plastic circuitry,
generate their own light and are unbreakable,
unlike LCD’s. DuPont is also at work on this technology.
This might one day lead to video wallpaper studded with
millions of light-emitting specks of plastic. So walls could
turn into TV sets or change color to match the season. The
implications for the thermoplastic micro-gauge film extrusion
and casting industry are enormous and commercialization
is expected within the next five years.
Concerned with the proliferation of abbreviations for
many of the plastic materials used in our industry? What
is SPPSS? VLDPE? PCTFE? (for answers, see last line in
this column.) A very useful guide to these and many hundreds
more of common (and not so common) Acronyms of
the Plastics Industry, is Acronymania, published by the SPI
– yet another acronym. I suggest it as a standard reference
tool for all in our industry.
Finally, as 2003 winds down the cry “wait ‘till next year”
may finally be heard, as our industry emerges from a 3-4
year record slump in growth and enters 2004 with
renewed vigor and optimism and results that start
approaching 2000-2001 sales and profits. A look back at
some classic writings from the book The Complete English
Tradesman, written by Daniel Defoe in the early 1700’s:
The tradesman who buys warily always pays surely. If
he has money to pay he need never fear goods to be had:
the merchant’s warehouses are always open, and he may
supply himself upon all occasions as he wants, and as his
Some tradesmen are fond of seeing their shops well
stocked, and their warehouses full of goods; this is a snare
to them and brings them to buy in more goods than they
want…a well experienced tradesman had rather see his
warehouse too empty than too full; if it be too empty he
can fill it when he pleases, if his credit be good or his cash
strong; but a thronged warehouse is a sign of the want of
customers and of a bad market, whereas an empty warehouse
is a sign of quick demand.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all our readers.
Answers to Acronym Quiz:
Polyphenylene Sulphide Sulfone;
VLDPE=Very low density
For more information, click on the Author Biography link at the top of this page.