Milwaukee thermoformer General Plastics helped a customer to switch from injection molding to thermoforming on a 200-piece job.

"We had a proposition from a customer that was in pretty dire straights," said Robert Porsche, president of General Plastics. Porsche and Patrick Cain, his plant manager, described the fast-moving reverse engineering project during a technical session at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference in Atlanta.

The customer had misplaced its injection mold overseas, and needed the small order as soon as possible, Porsche said. "They were against the wall, so they came to where they felt secure," he said.

Cain said General Plastics scanned the part using a Romer arm on a coordinate measuring machine, to create a 3D model, which was used to make short-run tooling. The company also uses the device for quality control and first article inspection, he said.

Employees worked quickly to fill the order.

"We came up with a solution that would buy them time," Porsche said.

Porsche said even small jobs like that are a challenge, but worth it.

"We enjoy doing those kind of things. We do it on a regular basis and it helps grow our business," he said.