SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS, INC.
2002 THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR
Stephen Sweig, Chief Engineer of Profile Plastics Corporation. He worked in the heavy-gauge thermoforming industry since 1977, working ten years for Arrem Plastics Corporation, Addison, Illinois, and then since for Profile Plastics.
Stephen had been an engineering force behind the technical development of the heavy-gauge pressure forming industry. Many of the standard features available today, from a wide range of machinery and mold vendors, are a direct result of his creativity and ingenuity. Many of the pressure formed products first produced under his guidance at Arrem Plastics and at Profile Plastics.
At Arrem Plastics, when Stephen began working in heavy-gauge thermoforming, pressure forming was already decades old. The industry's products, molds, and machines, however, were still much more "art" than "science". Over the years, working with machine builders, mold builders, product designers and O.E.M.s, Stephen has helped transform the heavy-gauge pressure forming industry into what it is today.
He was a persistent and strong proponent of 5-Axis CNC trimming of arts in its earliest years and he worked closely with Thermwood Corporation and later with MotionMaster, Inc. to develop low-cost, 5-Axis machines that would provide improved product quality and consistency while reducing dependency upon the artisanship of the individual operator and improving operator safety in an industry where hand trimming with powered tools is typical.
Initially working with AAA Equipment Company and later with Brown Machine and Maac Corporation, Stephen was instrumental in the development of many of the innovations and features that are now taken for granted in pressure forming machines. For example: "general purpose" machine design; flexible PC machine control; set-up data PC storage and retrieval; encoder platen positioning; platen lock-up for pressure and twin-sheet forming; machine/mold interfaces for automatic operation of articulated mold features; and many more.
Working with numerous Chicago area mold building shops, Stephen oversaw many of the advancements that Arrem and Profile made in pressure forming tooling design with emphasis on issues such as: constraining and articulating moveable mold components; improving cosmetics via machined versus cast construction; improving techniques for venting and surface finishing; interfacing operation of articulating mold components with functions of the thermoforming machines; and many more.
Over the years at Profile, Stephen worked closely with product designers and O.E.M.s to stretch the pressure formed product envelope to get potential customers thinking in terms of heavy-gauge thermoforming as a viable and competitive manufacturing process capable of meeting their needs. He was a strong advocate of molded in color, molded in vs. trimmed in features, undercuts as points of attachment vs. bonded blocks, and close tolerance CNC trimming; all of which results in a cost-effective alternative to the Injection Molding process for many part applications.
Stephen received an MBA and BSME from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois and an MSME in Fluid Mechanics from the University of New Mexico - Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1986, while at Arrem Plastics, Stephen was granted U.S. Patent No. 4,584,157 for a "Method for Double-Side Thermoforming".
Stephen J. Sweig, "an engineer's engineer", died January 30th, 2017 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, after a five-year battle with lung cancer. To honor our colleague and friend, a memorial fund which supports plastics education, has been established with the Society of Plastics Engineers Foundation. The Stephen J. Sweig PlastiVan® Fund will be used to help bring the PlastiVan Educations Program to students in the Chicago area and around the country. For more information, please contact Eve Vitale, SPE Foundation Director (810) 814-6412. Contributions to the Stephen J. Sweig PlastiVan® Fund can be sent to:
The SPE Foundation
Attn: Gene Havel
6 Berkshire Blvd #306
Bethel, CT 06801
*Please note the Stephen J. Sweig PlastiVan® Fund in your check's memo line.