History of the European Thermoforming Division

The Society of Plastics Engineers was founded in 1942 and has grown from 60 to over 20.000 members. The charter members were experiencing difficulty in making presentations to the automotive industry and believed the formation of the society would benefit them in becoming more technically orientated.
The main objective of the SPE remains the education of its members and to provide and promote the knowledge and education of plastics and polymers worldwide. The society currently has 100 sections worldwide with members in 70 countries.

The thermoforming division of the SPE was formed by a number of professional engineers involved in the thermoforming industry. Special mention should be made of John Griep, a founder member of the division who worked tirelessly to promote the division and its activities right up to his recent and untimely death.

In Europe, several thermoforming companies were becoming closer and cooperating with one another. An example was the official alliance in a thermoforming training and operating manual involving a Dutch, German and British company. Friendships and trade partnerships were being developed and those relationships were enhanced when these, and other European thermoforming organisations, would meet at the thermoforming conferences held annually in the United States.
International alliances were now evolving, adding greater interest in the transference of technical information associated with our increasingly dynamic industry.

With full support of the thermoforming division, a European 'trial' conference was held in the spring of 1997 at the Jacob Kunststofftechnik facility, Wilhelmsdorf, Germany.
With well over a dozen supporters from the United States division, including John Griep, Steve Murrill, Art Buckel, Jim Throne and Steve Hasselbach to name but a few, a further 50 Europeans associated in the thermoforming industry attended what became an enormously successful two day event.

Spurred on by the success of the event in Germany, a group of six Europeans visited Chicago in the July and held a meeting with the SPE and the thermoforming division to discuss forming the European Thermoforming Division. The decision was made not only to form the division, but also to attempt to hold an international thermoforming conference in March 1998 somewhere in Europe.

The first committee was elected, the founding officers being:

Chairman: Jeff Pit Plas-Logic Ltd.
Vice Chairman: Steve Wickham  
Treasurer: Cor Janssen Nelipak Thermoforming
Secretary: Peter Lichtherte TC & M
Technical Chair: Manfred Jacob Jacob Kunststofftechnik
Membership Secretary: Kevin Daley Solo Europe

The inaugural conference took place as planned in March 1998. Over 180 attendees from 23 different countries met in Ghent, Belgium, for two and a half days of technical seminars, topical debate and interactive networking amongst the audience. Heralded as an enormous success and long overdue, the decision was made by the executive committee to hold biennial thermoforming conferences.

The second conference returned to the city of Ghent in March 2000 followed by Zurich 2002, Viareggio 2004, Salzburg 2006, Berlin 2008, Antwerp 2010, Mestre (Venice) 2012, Prague 2014 and Sitges (Barcelona) 2016.

With its reputation of being the single most important event for the thermoforming industry and 'an event not to be missed', the conference venue 2018 is to be held in Rome. The programme is again full of high quality technical presentations and is expected to draw a big audience.

Go back