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Roll-Fed Thermoformer Adds to Center of Excellence at College

A custom-built, roll-fed, thin-sheet thermoformer is the latest addition to the Thermoforming Center of Excellence at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Thermoforming is a process by which plastic film or sheet is heated and then molded into three-dimensional shapes for such everyday uses as packaging, displays and components for a variety of transportation applications. The new equipment is a semi-commercial scale thermoforming machine that feeds rolls of plastic film into the thermoformer to produce and duplicate multiple formed packaging techniques used in industry.

According to Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager, Thermoforming Center of Excellence, “This equipment expands Penn College’s capability, which already includes a heavy-gauge thermoformer, to support additional (research-and-development) projects and teach incumbent workers and students using the latest technology.”

A roll-fed thermoformer has been added to the inventory of plastics equipment at Penn College, yet another learning tool for students and industrial partners alike.
A roll-fed thermoformer has been added to the inventory of plastics equipment at Penn College, yet another learning tool for students and industrial partners alike.

According to Plastics News, the thermoforming industry had $11.6 billion in sales last year, representing packaging and industrial sectors. Of the 550 plastics companies in Pennsylvania, many are making products that are thermoformed.

Penn College R&D projects will focus on opportunities in the development, manufacture and improvement of thermoformed products. Thermoforming companies, sheet extruders, resin suppliers, mold builders and equipment manufacturers are expected to use the facility and equipment.

A significant issue facing the plastics industry is the need for employee understanding of plastics technology to capitalize on the latest manufacturing advancements. There is a need for education and training that prepares students to make significant contributions as they enter the workforce.

The Thermoforming Center of Excellence will provide opportunities for those students to be involved in innovative industry projects. The educational experience gained in those projects will allow graduates to have a competitive advantage during their job search in a growing thermoforming industry.

Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for Penn College’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence, operates the new equipment.
Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for Penn College’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence, operates the new equipment.

“We were able to purchase this piece of equipment with the ongoing support of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division and Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Brentwood Industries, who all understand the importance of training using the latest technology,” said Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development.

Penn College, a Penn State affiliate, offers a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology and an associate degree in plastics and polymer technology. Students from both majors are expected to benefit from hands-on experience using the new equipment.

The college is home to the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, one of the nation’s top facilities for research, development and education related to injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, rotational molding and thermoforming.

For more information about national plastics workshops at Penn College, including the annual Thin-Gauge/Roll-Fed Thermoforming event or customized training and project opportunities, visit the PIRC or call 570-321-5533

For information on plastics majors offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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