Penn College Students Compete with SPI Materials

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

[This blog post was originally published on the PCToday website by the Pennsylvania College of Technology  on September 18, 2015.]

Two plastics students at Pennsylvania College of Technology partnered with a global company to use a new technology for a major industry competition.

Plastics and polymer engineering technology majors Madison T. Powell, of Linden, and Jacob W. Fry, of Hughesville, worked with Bloomsburg-based SEKISUI SPI in their roles as research assistants at Penn College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.

SEKISUI SPI is a thermoplastic leader serving a range of industries in 34 countries. The company contacted the PIRC in the summer requesting that students work with a new, innovative technique in thermoforming.

Plastics and polymer engineering technology majors Jacob W. Fry and Madison T. Powell hold one of the parts they made for a recent competition at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference in Atlanta. Christopher J. Gagliano (far left), program manager for the Thermoforming Center of Excellence at Penn College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, supervised the student project.

A common manufacturing process, thermoforming heats plastic sheet material and uses vacuum to form products such as trays, clamshell packaging and medical device housings.

The students used SEKISUI SPI’s Infused Imaging, proprietary technology that creates patterns or images in thermoplastic sheets, for the recent parts competition at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference in Atlanta.

“The method enhances a part’s design without the extra cost of machining a new tool or the challenges that traditional lamination or capping can bring,” Powell said. “The new technology integrates design into the polymer.”

In just eight weeks, Powell and Fry created and submitted to the competition a variety of parts showcasing the new technology, including the base to a dentist’s chair.

“Although they did not win, their project was mentioned at the awards banquet. They received many accolades from the SPE Board of Directors, as well as those tasked with voting on all the entries,” said Christopher J. Gagliano, program manager for the PIRC’s Thermoforming Center of Excellence and the students’ supervisor for the project.

“Considering the short timeframe in which to execute their project, Madison and Jake were able to submit some very unique-looking parts that caught the eye of many at the conference. I am very proud of their effort, which is a testament to the strength of the plastics program at Penn College.”

Powell and Fry attended the SPE Thermoforming Conference with Gagliano. They were able to network with thermoforming experts from throughout the world while sharing pride for their college and project.

Powell and Fry used proprietary technology from SEKISUI SPI to create several parts.

“Our thermoforming background is credited entirely to Penn College, where we have learned the processing techniques and basic principles needed to thermoform parts,” Powell said.

“We have gained a lot of experience working on this project, as it allowed us to collaborate with a well-known company on cutting-edge technology while continuing to develop our skills in the art of thermoforming,” Fry added.

The PIRC is a globally recognized leader in plastics education and training related to injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, rotational molding and thermoforming. Its Thermoforming Center of Excellence is a technical resource offering independent, hands-on applied research and development to the thermoforming community.


To learn more about the PIRC and the Thermoforming Center of Excellence, call 570-321-5533.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and home to one of only five plastics programs in the nation accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.