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Top 3 Reasons Why Your Thermoformed Plastics Supplier Should Have a Brown Machine

Many factors influence which vendor a company chooses to supply their formed or molded plastics.  At the top of that list of factors should be the type of thermoforming equipment their vendor uses.

Advantages of Thermoforming

Thermoforming is a manufacturing process used for creating things out of plastic. Sheets of plastic are heated to a pliable state and then molded into the desired shape through vacuum forming or pressure forming. Finally, the formed plastic is trimmed to deliver the exact size and shape needed to create packaging, tools, and parts for various consumer goods from toys to automobiles.

There are many benefits to thermoforming over alternative plastic technologies such as injection molding. For example, thermoforming provides faster time-to-market, increased economies of scale, cheaper tooling, and reduced initial investment. Design options are practically limitless. Consumer goods suppliers can increase their brand recognition through the creative use of color, shapes, textures, and text. Sizes range from pill packaging measured in centimeters to automotive parts a meter in length or more. Another advantage is durability. Thermoformed packages are tamper-resistant and resilient, which offers a range of benefits from product protection during shipping to multiple sealing options that increase product shelf life. Thermoforming is a cost-effective technology. Not only do thermoformed plastics cost 15-20% less than injection molding, but thermoforming is also a less labor-intensive technology that saves human resource costs. Finally, environmental sustainability is an advantage. Thermoforming lends itself well to using recycled materials, while less plastic material can be used to achieve the same product integrity or strength. This results in lighter weight, more environmentally friendly parts.

Thermoforming has been around as a technology since the first half of the 20th century. Since then, various materials have been optimized for a variety of use cases. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) has a high strength-to-density ratio and is used for cutting boards, piping, and building materials. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) is ideal for medical device packaging because it holds up well to heat sealing, radio frequency sealing, chemical sterilization, UV light, and other techniques required to keep products sterile and ready for medical use.

Like plastic materials themselves, plastics suppliers have continued to optimize their processes and equipment.  One of the most important considerations when choosing a supplier of thermoformed plastics is the type of thermoforming machine they use. In the world of thermoforming, no piece of manufacturing equipment can compare to a Brown Machine.

The Brown Machine and Modern Thermoforming

All thermoforming machines are not the same. The type of machine affects the value a thermoforming supplier brings to its customers. According to the Plastics Engineering article, The Dawn of Commercial Thermoforming, in 1965 Brown Machine developed an inexpensive, roll-fed pressure former, which ushered in the modern thermoforming era. That machine was the first to produce thermoformed parts that emerged from the machine already trimmed and ready to be shipped. Since that time, Brown Machine has consistently set the bar for high-performance thermoforming machines.

Fast forward to 2020, and in the world of thermoformed plastics for automotive, aeronautics, electronics, and more, the Brown Machine continues to outperform and provide tangible competitive advantages for plastics manufacturers and their customers.

Among these advantages, three stand out as clear benefits for anyone who needs thermoformed plastics as part of their supply chain.

Time-to-Market

Thermoforming is well-known for fast-turn prototype and production tooling. Compared to tooling for injection molding, thermoforming tools are quicker and simpler to produce. Replaceable inserts can add new styling features, logos, openings, or other variations. However, prototyping, ramp, and production times vary across thermoforming machines, and the Brown Machine is the fastest. Advanced quick-change equipment allows product-to-product changeover in two hours or less. The Brown Machine enables manufacturers to increase the throughput and efficiency of thermoforming operations dramatically. This high-speed manufacturing is advantageous for customers with a JIT (just-in-time) production strategy and short lead times to get products to market in as little as a few weeks.

Scale

Because of the low tooling costs, thermoforming lends itself well to low volume and prototyping through mass-market volume manufacturing. Design changes and product enhancements at the early stages of a product’s lifecycle can happen quickly without pushing a project over budget. That flexibility also means it’s simple to modify tooling when it’s time to redesign or update your thermoformed products. Once a product becomes successful and demand increases, it is easy to ramp to high volume output. Thermoformed plastics suppliers using a high throughput Brown Machine have a greater capacity for more significant volumes with consistent quality and accuracy. The Brown Machine enables products to scale from 1000s to 10s of millions of parts and is designed to accommodate heavy-duty, high-speed, high-volume forming of virtually all commonly thermoformed raw materials.

Size

When it comes to plastics suppliers, size matters. Thermoforming allows both small and larger sized products to use less plastic material, which provides advantages in product weight, materials costs, and environmental sustainability without sacrificing product quality or durability. Thermoforming can work for large plastic products, unlike most other plastic molding processes limited to smaller items. With the Brown Machine, manufacturers can achieve a larger forming area, up to 78 inches long, with high and consistent accuracy, meeting the most challenging customer specifications. There is always a cost associated with every individual supplier a company needs to bring into its supply chain. Not every manufacturer can deliver both large and small size medical-grade plastics. Working with a plastic manufacturer that uses a Brown Machine allows customers to work with one supplier for the broadest possible range of sizes and shapes, textures and colors for the widest variety of products.

Tru-Form Plastics’ Offers Thermoforming with Our Brown Machine

Now that you know why it matters choose a thermoformed plastics vendor with the best machines available. Tru-Form is one of a handful of U.S. suppliers with a Brown Machine, providing you with superior products and service to meet all your thermoforming needs across sectors including consumer, automotive, aerospace and defense, medical, and more. With manufacturing based 100% in the United States, the Tru-Form Plastics team prides itself on the ability to deliver value, efficiency, and quality for our customers. Our high-throughput Brown Machine enables us to achieve the fastest delivery worldwide, whether you are launching a niche product or need millions per month.

Reach out to us today with your thermoformed plastics needs.

Top 5 Reasons Why the Type of Thermoforming Machine Your Medical Product Packaging Supplier Uses Matters!

Thermoforming Plastics for Medical Product Packaging

Thermoforming is a popular manufacturing process used to mold plastics for all kinds of products. During the thermoforming process, plastic sheeting is heated to a pliable temperature, molded into shape, and trimmed to create various parts and packaging for products we use every day. Advantages over other popular plastic manufacturing processes such as injection molding include lower tooling costs, rapid product development and prototyping, a more comprehensive range of possible sizes and shapes, more color and texture options, and almost infinite adaptability.

One sector that has greatly benefited from advances in plastics is the medical supply chain. Medical-grade plastics have enabled a combination of sterile barrier solutions, safety, cost-containment, and manufacturability that have greatly improved patient outcomes. Thermoforming is the most common production process for manufacturing packaging for medical devices and lab equipment, which require a sterile manufacturing environment.

While thermoforming is a mature and well-understood technology in the medical supply chain, there are still subtle differences in manufacturing processes that deserve attention when choosing a medical product packaging supplier. In addition to strict adherence to the various levels of cleanroom requirements published by ISO, there is a critical differentiator that enables one plastic packaging supplier to perform beyond others.

The type of thermoforming machine used affects almost every performance metric in medical product package manufacturing.

The Sencorp Ultra

All thermoforming machines are not created equal, and there is one, in particular, that stands out above the rest for its ability to deliver on a wide range of packaging requirements. The Sencorp Ultra offers superior performance in various ways that benefit both the manufacturer and the entire value chain. Sencorp calls their thermoformer the “workhorse of the industry,” and plastic packaging manufacturers that invest in this machine quickly learn why. With the ability to handle blister, clamshell, and stretch packaging, a 111-inch 42-zone radiant quartz oven, and a 115-ton trim press, this machine’s speed and versatility are unmatched. It’s easy to understand why those who spend their careers optimizing thermoforming manufacturing processes get excited about this machine.

But the real question is, “Why should medical product suppliers care what kind of machine manufactures their packaging?” There are five critical reasons why the kind of thermoforming machine used makes a difference.

Plastics and The Environment

Top of mind for everyone who touches the plastic packaging industry in any way is the environment. In the medical sector, single-use plastics are critical for delivering high-quality care to patients and keeping caregivers safe. Single-use plastics provide a lower risk of infection in the clinical environment and a lower risk of cross-contamination in the laboratory environment.

PlasticsToday has reported on past initiatives to recycle medical plastics in hospital settings, principally involving packaging and other items that were not exposed to patients or contamination. The outcomes generally were problematic. One article  concluded that properly sorting recyclables in intense hospital environments was “fraught with difficulty and that the economic value was not sufficient in the current climate.”

While the issues around single-use plastics are complicated at best, there is one thing the production facility can do to reduce the amount of plastic in medical products. The Sencorp Ultra can use less plastic while achieving equal if not better integrity or strength than other machines. Its heavy-duty rail transport system allows for less material use and less waste.

Time-to-Market

There has never been a time more illustrative of the need to quickly ramp medical-grade materials than the year 2020 and the battle against COVID-19. From face shields to hand sanitizer bottles to plastic barriers for separating cubicles, the need to protect essential workers in healthcare and food service from the virus’s spread became priority number one. Shortages of these essential items hampered efforts to contain COVID-19. Manufactures rushed to ready their production lines to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and produce enough to meet worldwide demand from the multiple Coronavirus surges.

The thermoformed process is perfect for medical products that urgently need to achieve a fast time-to-market.  By driving heat into the medical grade sheet, thermoforming enables a high integrity package that can pass medical validation requirements the first time. That being said, production time varies among thermoforming machines, and the Sencorp Ultra is the fastest. 40% shorter cycle times and an integrated robotic stacking system make it the go-to equipment for the fastest possible ramp of mission-critical, medical-grade plastics.

 

Scale

Similar to the ability to meet fast times to market is the ability to scale.  If you have ever chosen a vendor that delivers the first few hundred of a new product but then fails to produce higher volumes when demand for your product takes off, then you know why the ability to scale is essential. Delivering 1000 medical device packages should be as easy as delivering 1,000,000 or even 10,000,000.  And the quality and speed of delivery should be repeatable such that the 10,000,000th part produced is as good as the first.

The high throughput of the Sencorp Ultra, with Siemens S7 series PLC controls, deliver repeatable, consistent quality at low volumes and high volumes.

 

Product Size 

There is always a cost associated with every individual supplier a company needs to bring into its supply chain, and not every manufacturer can deliver both large and small size medical-grade plastics.    Working with a plastic manufacturer that uses Sencorp Ultra machines allows customers to work with one supplier for the broadest possible range of sizes and shapes, textures and colors for the widest variety of products.  One supplier can create one-ounce plastic bottles for hand sanitizer, face visors, and 36-inch plastic barriers, all in the same factory.

 

PETG

The ability to process PETG is an essential requirement for the production of medical-grade plastics.  PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) is an additive for plastics that need to go through extreme heat to achieve a sterile environment. Due to its strength, clarity, surface qualities, and low cost, PETG is used to make sterile, single-use disposable containers for cell cultures and many other biomedical applications.

PETG is used with thermoforming for medical product packaging because it holds up well to heat sealing, radio frequency sealing, chemical sterilization, UV light, and other techniques required to keep products sterile and ready for medical use.  Medical product packaging, electronic equipment covers, internal components, sidewalls, and even hospital room panels take advantage of thermoformed PETG to keep environments sterile and patients safe.

 

Tru-Form Plastics is here to serve your medical product packaging needs.

Now that you know why it matters, choose a medical product packaging supplier with the best thermoforming machines available to suit ALL your medical plastic needs. With manufacturing based 100% in the United States, at Tru-Form Plastics, we pride ourselves on delivering the most environmentally friendly PETG packaging for medical products. We provide our customers with packaging options others cannot, meeting your needs for small packaging up to 72 inches long by 34 inches wide. Our high-throughput Sencorp Ultra machine enables us to achieve the fastest delivery across North America, whether you are launching a niche product or need millions per month.

Reach out to us today with your medical product packaging needs.

How to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste in Medical & Dental Offices

In medical and dental offices, single-use plastics are easy and convenient. Although this may be true, the continuous use of these plastics increases the carbon footprint, making it detrimental to the earth. Without the earth, we won’t need medical or dental offices, right?

The pandemic has forced everyone to take a long, hard look at the way things are done. As items become scarce, the need to re-use products becomes a priority. In turn, this creates new opportunities to recycle, reduce waste, and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.

As a result, medical and dental offices have begun using face shields as part of their personal protective equipment.

What are face shields?

Face shields are protective masks healthcare workers now use for extra protection. They are especially important in medical and dental facilities due to close contact procedures taking place and more effective in the prevention and spread of bacteria and viruses. Created with PETG thermoplastic polyester, the shield covers the entire face to avoid splatter from either party. One of the benefits of using face shields is that they can be sanitized for continual reuse.

Tru-Form Plastics provides three different styles of face shields: standard, deluxe and industrial. Advantages of these face shields:

  • Can be sanitized for continual reuse
  • Lightweight and can be worn for long periods
  • Does not fog up
  • Additional foam pad provides additional ventilation
  • PETG does not break down in UV light
  • Plastic is much thicker than others

Cleaning and sanitizing face shields

Properly cleaning a face shield without ruining it is key. Additionally, ensuring the cleaning agent is sterile enough to sanitize the face shield is important. Each medical and dental facility using face shields should have a cleaning protocol in place on how to do this. The use of a mild liquid detergent along with a soft cloth or sponge works well. The face shield must be thoroughly rinsed and dried with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.

If the shield is cleaned with a surface disinfectant, it may leave a residue, which makes it ineffective for use. If alcohol wipes are used, all directions should be followed to ensure the shield is dry and residue-free.

Removing single-use plastics from medical facilities

Single-use plastics help prevent infection in medical and dental offices. They are also affordable and convenient for staff and patients. In order to get a handle on the harm being done to the environment, alternative uses must become a priority. Here are a few ways single-use plastics can be removed:

  • Cups – Plastic cups are very sanitary and widely used throughout medical and dental facilities. Switching from plastic to paper will help.
  • Toothpaste tube and floss containers – While plastic tubes are used and distributed in dental offices, advising the staff and patients to recycle their plastics after use can help cut waste and reduce harm to the environment.
  • Plastic tips – These are used for air, water and suction but can be switched out for reusable sterile ones.
  • Plastic barrier sleeves – These sleeves are used to cover air and water syringes to prevent cross-contamination but are usually one use. Finding an alternative for this would be key.
  • Propylaxis angles – These are the cups that hold toothpaste for polishing. In most cases, they are disposable rubber. By switching to metal or recycled plastic that can be reused, this will help in reducing plastic waste.

Dental and medical professionals have a lot to consider while providing the best care and safety for their patients. As a whole, the healthcare industry can work on doing their part to prevent the use of single-use plastics and help protect the environment. These professionals have a duty to help protect the environment and are favorably viewed among their patients when going green. In time, the cost savings will outweigh the extra efforts and will help in creating sustainable practices in their facilities.

How Can Dentists Use Plastics to Protect Patients?

In this era of COVID-19, protecting patients is more crucial than ever. Although patients may come into the facility for services wearing a mask, what happens when it’s time for them to sit in the chair? There are a few things dental offices and dentists can do to protect themselves and their patients, such as wearing plastic face shields.

What are plastic face shields?

Plastic face shields help provide barriers between the dentist and patient. Although the actual face shield is made of plastic, these shields are designed to prevent the spread of infection. They are cleaned and disinfected on a continuous basis to maintain the integrity of the shield.

Face shields are a good solution for dentists because they don’t have to be touched while working with the patient. Additionally, they don’t itch like face masks do, which also works as a preventative measure against touching the face. Tru-Form Plastics are a leader in this area.

What’s so special about Tru-Form Plastics?

Tru-Form face shields are lightweight, allowing consistent motion and the ability to see multiple patients at a time. The face shield does not fog, and the smaller foam pad adds an additional layer of ventilation. Tru-Form’s plastic is also more than twice as thick as other face shields on the market, creating a more durable shield to work with. The shields come in 3 different options: standard, deluxe, and industrial.

These shields are constructed with PETG material, mentioned as one of the best materials for face shields by the FDA. PETG does not break down in UV light, providing a much longer shelf life than shields made with PVC or other materials. Tru-Form Plastics uses the thermoforming process, which is heating a thermoplastic sheet until it is soft enough to stretch over a mold where it cools and solidifies into a desired shape for use.

How are diseases and infections transferred in a dental office?

There are a number of ways diseases and infections can be transferred. This includes by direct contact or droplets of blood and saliva. Additionally, if tools and areas touched by the dental professionals are not properly sanitized, this increases the likelihood of infection.

Safety is the first priority

Using plastics in dental offices helps reduces the risk of exposure, transference of germs and infection for employees and patients. Barriers, or Sani-Shields work to protect office workers while remaining compliant with social distancing guidelines where high traffic is the norm. Lightweight and easy to install, each shield is customizable.

Face shields are for protection against spray and splatter without interfering with line of sight. Additionally, face shields should be large enough to protect the face and head. Since these are reused, proper care and cleaning procedures should be implemented. This involves using surface disinfectant wipes and other solutions approved by the manufacturer.

Dental health workers are deemed high risk, so proper PPE is key. That means covering all dental tools and disinfecting them on a continuous basis. This may also involve keeping them in protective covers until used. Cleaning face shields away from patients will also help in alleviating the spread of germs.

To find out more about how Tru-Form Plastics can be beneficial in protecting your dental office, contact our team today!

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