OptiForm B2X machined plug before mounting on the mold


CGP Europe designs and manufactures advanced composites for the thermoforming industry. The OptiForm® materials fit into a market niche, which is the plug assist for thermoforming molds. Their material is used in the upper side of the mold to pre-stretch the plastic film in the cavity before forming plastic during the thermoforming process.

Interview with Paul Blanchard, Material & Process Engineer at CGP Europe.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

PAUL BLANCHARD: Our syntactic foam materials are used in a lot of different applications of thermoformed products: food packaging, medical, electronics, plantations & flower, consumer packaging, automotive and industrial.

We help thermoforming companies on different points thanks to our OptiForm® material:

  • Reduce starting gauge => they can save plastic up to 15% per part;
  • Increase productivity => they can increase throughput from 5% to 35%;
  • Save Energy => they do not have to cool down the upper side of the mold and even they can reduce the thermoforming temperature because our material friction is designed for thermoformed plastic material like PP, PET, PLA, PS;
  • Process stability => it keeps the thermoforming machine sable during long run without changing process parameters;
  • Improve part clarity => avoid marks and scratch of standard plug materials.

E.E: What’s the news for 2021 about new products?

P.B: OptiForm® is a recyclable material and we are still working on the recycling process with a company CIFRA Recycling to give a second life to our materials. This is how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors because their composites are not recyclable.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

P.B: We developed a range of 4 types of syntactic foam materials dedicated to different plastic film application:

  • OptiFom® B2X (blue), The Most durable grade for PP, PET, PLA;
  • OptiFom® FXT (green), The Anti-Stick grade for Multilayer;
  • OptiFom® SLX (pink), The Smoothest grade for PET, PP;
  • OptiFom® F2X (white), The standard grade for PS, PVC.

These materials are available in standard size rods and sheets and can be delivered cut, ready to machine in a CNC.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

P.B: The manufacture of plastic containers is strongly blamed but is still growing in the world. Thermoformers and moldmakers who are our customers, must invest more and more in OptiForm syntactic foam technologies to reduce plastics thicknesses in their products. Our application is therefore growing in the thermoforming industry, especially in Asia and South America.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

P.B: For the moment our best seller is OptiForm B2X. It is the world first choice to improve thermoforming results with PP. This plastic film is a huge part of the market and the most complicated to thermoformed. Using OptiForm B2X our customer expand the forming temperature range and they can thermoform cooler and clearer.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021?

P.B: We are very optimistic. Despite the weak development of new molds from our customers this year, we will increase our market share and consolidate our position as the only global manufacturer of recyclable syntactic foam.