Grants help Kettering add thermoformer to its plastics lab

Jul 8, 2013

“Thermoforming is a common technology, used across a variety of industries, especially packaging,” said Mark Richardson, Manufacturing Engineering lecturer at Kettering.

The Kettering University Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department has a new thermoformer for its students thanks to $40,000 in grants from three organizations.

Mark Richardson and Claudia DeschaineClaudia Deschaine, grants manager for the Dart Foundation, was on campus in April to present a $20,000 grant to purchase the machine. Kettering also received a $10,000 matching grant from the Society of Plastics Engineers’ SPE Foundation and $10,000 from MAAC Machinery, the world’s largest thermoforming machinery manufacturer.

The machine, used to form a variety of plastics products, replaces a thermoformer that Kettering had since the 1960s that was no longer operational. The process includes loading sheet plastic into the machine, which is sent into an oven. A form is then pushed into the plastic and a vacuum draws the sheet into the form, creating the product.

“Thermoforming is a common technology, used across a variety of industries, especially packaging,” said Mark Richardson, Manufacturing Engineering lecturer at Kettering.

The thermoformer will be used in IME 100 classes, as well as two plastics processing courses, IME 401 and 402.

The check presentation

“All of our freshman engineering students will get to use the machine in IME 100 and get a basic understanding of how it works,” Richardson said. “The students in our plastics courses will get a core understanding and strong functional knowledge about the technology.”

Funding for the thermoformer was aided by alumni connections. Eric Short, who is a class of 1996 graduate, and Brian Winton, whose father is a Kettering graduate, are both members of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division and helped Kettering with the grant. Tyler DeLong ‘94 of Dart Container Corp. and Paul Ryan of MAAC were also influential in helping Kettering obtain the necessary funds to get the thermoformer.