Astrapak lead market with thermoformed decorative cups


Astrapak products are synonymous with high-end quality and are recognised within the industry to be at the cutting edge of design trends in various market segments. Their thermoformed cup design remains a market-leading product due largely to the exceptional skill, which is behind this product at the company’s Plastform plant in Cape Town.

Thermoforming is the process of using heat to form a product from a pre-made plastic sheet and to shape the sheet in a mould during which process stresses are identified and removed from the material so as not to compromise the quality of the manufactured container. Final quality is highly reliant on the optimal grade of the plastic sheet specification.

Heading the technical division of Plastform, Design Technician Deon Thompson explains that in-house tool design, attention to detail and unrivalled service to the customer is what sets Plastform apart from their competitors.

“We are extremely flexible, with the quickest turn around time when it comes to creating a tangible product sample,” said Thompson. “And we are approachable, passionate and easy to work with. We welcome and accommodate new projects and provide practical solutions for our customers.

“We design the tooling that will manufacture the thermoformed product. The design process takes into account the tools and tooling required. We go to the extent of visiting the customer to see how their application in their factory will physically work. We try to visualise the concept; how the product will be filled in the factory right up to how user friendly it will be for the end user, the consumer.” Thompson believes that this added value and attention to detail sets Astrapak aside in the market.

Thompson’s ingenuity in product design coupled with his extensive fitting and turning experience saw him produce a world first when he designed a mould that could run in the Direct Trimming process by using the basis of the technology used to develop a million rand tool; he designed and created the identical tool at a fraction of the cost.

“The weakest aspect of the tool fabricated in house was the blade, and even so, the tool successfully made 18 million products and lasted almost five years before the blade gave way. Repairs to the blade were minuscule in terms of the overall tool cost!” explained Thompson, whose inventiveness and willingness to innovate led to the success of the project.

Thompson has always believed that Plastform needed to widen their horizon by adding to conventional thermoforming the process of injection moulding. Plastform attacked the market with the injection moulded tamper evident tub and lid – the tub was thermoformed while the tamper-proof lid was made from injection moulding. Astrapak currently makes the tallest 1kg cup, which is tailor-made to a leading brand’s specification.

Alongside Thompson at Plastform (which was founded in 1980) is Production Manager: Forming and Decoration, Hilton Thomas whose service over the past 32 years has provided with him a well-rounded ability to manage many aspects of the running and functionality of the factory.

Plastform became part of the Astrapak Group in 2006 and although already well established in the market place, Plastform takes full advantage of the capabilities and resources provided by Astrapak Group to continuously be at the leading edge of quality, service and innovation.

Thomas explains the sleeving capability, which brings about a shelf presence that separates the thermoformed branded products from the crowd. Plastic sleeves are outsourced for printing and then shrink-fitted onto the thermoformed cups at the Plastform factory.

“We were the first company to offer sleeving as a decorative solution to the dairy market with the sleeved yoghurt container,” said Thomas. “The sleeving provides a look that is more photographic and realistic and is very different to the In Mould Labelling decorative technique. Sleeving produces a much brighter and richer looking finished product, which gives the product the competitive edge when it is presented on shelf. It delivers the “Wow” factor.”

Astrapak currently produces sleeved yoghurt cups in sizes from 150g, 175g, 270g, 500g and 1kg.

Thomas adds that Astrapak’s Plastform is abreast with leading world trends. “Our quality is excellent and our products pass all the required Quality Controls so that the customer and ultimately the consumer are ensured of a high quality container.”

Find out more about Astrapak’s Forming Division here: