Blow-Molded Furniture Maker “Expands” Using PTC Creo View MCAD




When you think of blow-molded manufacturing, often you think of plastic bottles. Blow molding is a process in which air pressure inflates soft plastic into a mold cavity, creating hollow, seamless objects–like a bottle of soda. The process is fast and the tooling less expensive than you might pay to create injection-molded parts. If you’re not familiar with it, watch this very short animated demo:

Blow-Molded Furniture Maker “Expands” Using PTC Creo View MCAD

By Geoff Hedges | Published: Jul 7, 2015

When you think of blow-molded manufacturing, often you think of plastic bottles. Blow molding is a process in which air pressure inflates soft plastic into a mold cavity, creating hollow, seamless objects–like a bottle of soda. The process is fast and the tooling less expensive than you might pay to create injection-molded parts. If you’re not familiar with it, watch this very short animated demo:

Lifetime products, first known for its basketball hoops, figured out that you could use that same process to create strong, lightweight portable furniture too. “In 1995, we invented a picnic table that folds flat with a blow-molded plastic tabletop,” reads the company website. “Later, in 1998, we used that same tabletop material and invented the first ‘the original’ blow-molded folding utility table, making heavy wooden folding tables practically obsolete.”

The innovative approach proved very good for business. Today, you can find the Lifetime logo on millions of molded folding and stacking chairs and tables in households and gathering places everywhere.

To see how a seemingly 2-dimensional surface can be produced with blow molding, check out the corporate video below. (Skip to the 2:25 mark to see the plastic fabrication steps.)

Beyond basketballs and picnic tables

With a team of more than 1500 people, Lifetime continues to expand its product line, adding playground equipment, kayaks, storage sheds, etc. But with more products and people come more obstacles. Quality control and manufacturing groups are busy and may be juggling more products than ever. That means time for reviewing and validating designs may be short.

So how does management keep product development optimized? They use PTC Creo View MCAD.

PTC Creo View MCAD is a visualization tool that anyone can use to investigate product designs, whether those designs come in the form of 3D product models, assemblies, drawings, images, or documents. With PTC Creo View MCAD, team members can access information from the PLM system, and then inspect, measure, mark it up and more—all without needing their own seats of CAD software. In fact, they don’t even have to be CAD experts to use the tool.

 “With [Creo View] we find a lot of value the more we push data out to the company,”  says Jared Larson, PLM Administrator. “Once we publish our CAD data, which is as simple as checking it into our PLM system, the system creates viewables for us; immediately anybody who has access to the system can see the data. It is really intuitive.”

Teams outside of engineering, such as manufacturing and quality, now use PTC Creo View MCAD to review and provide feedback on 3D product information, to access 2D drawings.

The company reports that since it’s begun using PTC Creo View MCAD, feedback from extended groups has improved, as expected, and the company is using the viewable data to validate final quality of finished goods. In fact, even sales is using the tool for on-site sales meetings with clients.

Want to try it out yourself? You can easily share your design data with your quality and manufacturing teams too. Just encourage them to download PTC Creo View Express . This free-for-life version of our visualization software provides comprehensive capabilities for viewing and interrogating mechanical 2D drawings and 3D CAD models.