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How to Expand Recycling of PET Thermoform Packaging in Europe

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 15, 2017 9:01:51 AM

Check out my new article for Packaging Digest, "How to expand recycling of PET thermoform packaging in Europe" for an update on thermoform recycling in the EU. It begins,

My most popular blog post “How clamshells became recyclable and recycled”  describes the journey of post-consumer PET thermoformed packaging in North America from landfilled in 2009, to collected for recycling in 2013, to recycled in 2015. Today, a handful of reclaimers reprocess post-consumer PET thermoforms into second- or third-generation material and products.

Several months ago, a friend asked me about the end-of-life management of post-consumer PET thermoforms in the European Union (EU). Recently hired by an international consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, he was now responsible for the sustainability of the packaging he put on store shelves around the world. Were PET thermoforms recycled in the EU, he wanted to know?

Click here to keep reading.

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Above: PET thermoformed tray

Topics: Recycling thermoformed packaging, Recycling thermforms, Thermoformed packaging, Clamshell recycling

How Dordan Designs Packaging for Thermoforming in 6 Steps

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 8, 2017 1:30:10 PM

Dordan is a full-service thermoform designer and manufacturer. Because we have complete control over the design and production of thermoformed packaging, our approach to package design is collaborative, leveraging our engineering, production, and quality control expertise.

What follows is a discussion of Dordan’s thermoform packaging developmental process in six steps, with special attention to the multi-departmental, collaborative foundation that all designs are built upon.

Step One: Understand the Customer’s Packaging Priorities and Requirements

The first step in Dordan’s thermoform package design process is the Account Manager ascertains all the project requirements and particulars from the customer. What is the primary function of the package?

Step Two: New Project Report

Next, the Account Manager communicates the packaging priorities to the Engineering Manager in the form of a new project report. Everything, from performance requirements to potential failure points, is included in the new project report. The physical product is provided, and if 3D files exist, so too are they. If there are other packaging components that correspond to the selling unit for which the thermoformed part is being designed for, like an insert/graphics card, shipping container/tote, etc., then these are also provided along with the new project report.

Step Three: Review Report

The Engineering Manager then reviews the new project report with the Account Manager, elucidating on the particulars and clarifying questions. Things like, “how is the package loaded?” or, “how is the package transported?” are discussed at this time so the Engineering Manager can understand the whole life cycle of the thermoformed part he is designing.

To Dordan’s Engineering Manager, the new project report is the fundamental building block of the package design. Without the correct fundamentals—which are communicated at this point—you can’t make the best design possible, based on the project requirements. Thus, Dordan’s Engineering Manager uses the new project report as the template to base all his package design decisions around.

Step Four: Design Review with Production

In the forth step of Dordan’s package developmental process, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager. This is a design review to ensure that the package design will achieve the customer’s functional requirements while being easy to manufacture; and therefore, of high-quality production. At this point in the packaging developmental process areas of concern are addressed, and suggestions discussed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “We review the project and isolate areas of concern. We take a step back and consider other ways of designing the part to achieve the same function with the goal of reducing potential thermoforming issues.” Therefore, the design and production of thermoformed parts go hand-in-hand at Dordan: functional and manufacturable are the cornerstones of all of Dordan’s designs. Nothing is designed in a vacuum, but instead, designed with complete regard for the production process itself. Dordan’s packages are designed for thermoforming.

Step Five: Engineer the Design

At this point, Dordan’s Engineering Manager will either request more information from the Account Manager if variable unknowns still exist; or, begin engineering the thermoformed package to produce prototypes. The intent of the prototypes is to demonstrate part form and function. The Account Manager is then debriefed by the Engineering Manager on the functionality and design of the prototypes, and the prototypes are presented to the customer. If the prototypes meet the customer’s expectations, the package design is approved and the production tooling machined and assembled on-site at Dordan. If the prototype does not meet the customer’s expectations, the design is revised accordingly until it does.

Dordan also has the ability to produce photorealistic renderings of package designs before moving to prototype. These renderings are engineered 100% to spec, literally built around the physical products themselves. The renderings take into account all the requirements of thermoforming like draft, radiuses, material thickness, etc., and are therefore more than just pretty pictures; instead, they are thermoformable, functional images that demonstrate true shelf impact. Examples are included here:

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Above: Photorealistic rendering, without graphics card

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Above: Wire Frame of Rendering

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Above: Photorealistic rendering with partial graphics

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Above: Photorealistic rendering with generic graphics

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Step Six: Engineering, Production and Quality Control Design Review

Before a new package is produced, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager and Dordan’s Quality Control Manager to discuss the important aspects of the package’s form and function that need to be verified and validated on the line to confirm specifications and performance requirements are met. Because Dordan is a custom thermoformer, each new project has its own set of requirements and specifications. Thus Dordan’s Engineering Manager, Production Manager, and Quality Control Manager hold a formal meeting whereby these custom sets of requirements are reviewed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “In the design process there may be customer requests that are critical and non-standard. These need to be communicated to quality control and checked during production to ensure said critical dimensions or functional attributes are being produced as intended.” Thus, the point of the meetings between engineering, production and quality control is to develop a game plan to allow for the production of the highest-quality parts that function in the best way possible, based on the specific project requirements.

At Dordan, packaging is designed and produced collaboratively. Beginning with sales and ending with quality control, Dordan knows how to produce consistently high-quality thermoformed parts and packaging through its multi-departmental, collaborative approach. Leveraging this expertise, Dordan designs packaging for thermoforming. This approach to thermoform design and production allows Dordan to provide custom thermoformed packaging solutions to an array of industries with varying needs and performance requirements.

Dordan has been designing and manufacturing custom thermoformed packaging for 55-years. We have the experience needed to produce high-quality thermoformed products and packaging that meet the expectations of our customers. Contact Dordan for your next packaging project for packaging that performs, on and off the line.

Download this content here:

How Dordan Designs Packaging in 6 Steps

Learn more about our thermoform package design.

Woodstock's Dordan Manufacturing Celebrates its 55th Anniversary

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 2, 2017 8:22:13 AM

Hey guys!

Dordan was featured in local newspaper, the Northwest Herald, for our 55th anniversary. Titled, "Woodstock's Dordan Manufacturing Celebrates its 55th Anniversary," the article is a brief overview of Dordan's thermoformed products, package design, tooling, and production services. Reporter Brittany Kepperman writes,

Dordan Manufacturing is striving to grow its business and stay on top of technology trends such as robotics use as it celebrates its 55th anniversary.

Woodstock-based Dordan is a thermoformed packaging manufacturing company that creates products such as plastic clamshell and tray packaging for clients across industries.

"We take pretty much anything and make a package to go around it," said Chandler Slavin, sustainability, marketing and account manager with Dordan.

The full service company wants to stay on top of every aspect of a product's creation, from its design to its eventual completion and storage for clients, Slavin said.

Click here to keep reading.

Learn more about Dordan.

Dordan Manufacturing.png

Above: My brother Aric explaining how plastic sheet is fed into the thermoformer

Photo credit: Northwest Herald, Sarah Nadar

Topics: package design, thermoformed trays, custom thermoforming, plastic clamshells, plastic blisters, Thermoforming, custom thermoformer, plastic thermoformer, plastics thermoformer

Dordan Celebrates 55th Anniversary Thermoforming Custom Packaging with the Implementation of Robotics; hosts tour with City of Woodstock

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 25, 2017 9:27:57 AM

Woodstock, IL—October 25th, 2017—Custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing, of Woodstock, IL, celebrates its 55th anniversary with the implementation of robotics, marking yet another milestone for this family-owned and operated business. Dordan hosts tour with the City of Woodstock to commemorate the occasion.

Dordan has been designing and manufacturing plastic thermoformed packaging solutions like plastic clamshells, blisters, trays, and components since 1962, when it operated in a small storefront shop on Elston Avenue in Chicago. Owned by Edwin and Vivian Slavin, the company took a more progressive turn with the appointment of current CEO & President Daniel Slavin as majority owner in the mid-1970s. Just in his early twenties at the time, Daniel had the foresight to see where the industry was heading, and invested in CAM/CNC produced tooling and microprocessor based thermoformers. With the commitment to outstanding quality and engineering-based thermoform designs, Slavin propelled Dordan through the decades, evolving the firm from its modest beginnings into the sophisticated design and production house it its today. Spanning 50,000 square feet with 11 in-line thermoforming machines that have the capacity to convert 75 million pounds of material annually, Dordan is a one-stop shop for highly-engineered thermoformed products and packaging for the healthcare, electronics, retail, automotive, and industrial end markets and industries.

Dordan Manufacturing isn’t slowing down as it nears its 6th decade of business. The company is investing in robotics that streamline the pipeline and produce parts smarter, faster, and cheaper. Slavin explains, “We’re generating additional production capacity with the implementation of automation platforms via robotics. These add-on processes expedite in-line thermoforming, and married with our skillful use of labor efficiency and asset utilization, allow us to continue to provide high-quality thermoformed products in quick-turn time at competitive pricing to our customers. Slavin reflects on the company’s move into automation: “If you don’t evolve, you don’t survive.”

As it celebrates its 55th anniversary, Dordan Manufacturing looks forward to continuing to exercise its commitment to corporate sustainability. With various initiatives aimed at the social, economic, and environmental sustainment of the company, community, and industry, Dordan is invested for the long-term. Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator Chandler Slavin comments, “Dordan is a family-company that cares deeply about the products we make, people we employ and service, and community we operate in. As a corporation, we believe it is our responsibility to be a conscientious company, dedicated to the sustainment of the plastics and manufacturing industries, and the local community.”

Dordan celebrates 55-years thermoforming

Above: Members of the City of Woodstock with (from left to right) Dordan's Chandler Slavin, Aric Slavin and Daniel Slavin; Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager pictured center right.

Learn more about custom thermoformer Dordan Manufacturing.

Dordan fits mold for successful family business

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 23, 2017 1:16:18 PM


Read Dordan's story as told by local newspaper, the Woodstock Independent, in "Dordan fits mold for successful family business." This story coincides with our 55-year anniversary in October.

As Dordan Manufacturing, a third generation family-owned company that makes its home in Woodstock, celebrates 55 years in business, it’s obvious family is still very much the heart of the company. These family ties were what helped the custom thermoforming company get its start in 1962 in Chicago, and they continue to bind the company together today in Woodstock.

Click here to keep reading.

the woodstock independent.pngAbove: Dordan's brother-and-sister duo, Aric and Chandler Slavin

Learn more about Dordan Manufacturing.

Dordan Pens Third Most-Read Article for Packaging Digest in September

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 6, 2017 10:47:15 AM

Hey guys!

My article, "How to Change Plastic's 'Waste' Reputation" was the third most-read article on Packaging Digest's website in September. Check it out-- alongside the other most popular articles-- in Executive Editor Lisa Pierce's "5 Popular Packaging Articles Pinpoint 2 Major Topics."

Article preview copied below:

An environmentalist and a plastics representative walk into a bar—and they don’t agree on anything, which isn’t funny at all. Can the differences in this Great Plastics Divide ever be reconciled?

Sustainable packaging thought-leader Chandler Slavin offers some intriguing possibilities, including this conclusion: “The solution to the war of plastic ideologies becomes clear. The sociological construction of plastics as symbolic of waste culture…will only be replaced with proper representation, when the global problem of plastic waste is tackled.”

Click here to keep reading.


Learn about Dordan's sustainable thermoformed packaging.

Interaction, Virtual Reality, and Automation Trend at PACK EXPO

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 2, 2017 2:17:15 PM

International PACK EXPO descended upon Las Vegas last week, where attendee interaction, virtual reality, and automation trended on the show floor. It's hard to think about my time in Las Vegas without thinking of the atrocities commited. My thoughts and prayers are with Las Vegas.

The Drone Demo

The Drone Demo, an interactive exhibit produced by PMMI and Workhorse, invited show attendees to catch a glimpse into the future of packaging drone delivery. Creating a mock residential street set in picturesque suburbia, the exhibit showcased small winged contraptions humming as they carried shipping boxes from the stationed electric car (Workhorse) to your front door. PMMI COO Jim Pittas explains, “When it comes to automated packaging delivery, whether it be a drone or driverless vehicles, many in the packaging industry, as well as consumers, are not exactly sure what this technology looks like or how it will apply to their everyday operations. Our interactive display offers a real visualization of the final process” (Show Daily).

Stephanie Neil, Senior Editor at Automation World, video captured the demo, tweeting:

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Stephanie Neil (@neilst)

9/26/17, 1:58 PM

#Drones delivering packages @packexposhow @Workhorse_Group #PACKEXPO

The demo was timely, considering Amazon’s published vision for drone centers shaped like giant beehives in the middle of U.S. cities.

Virtual Reality

There were several exhibitors offering show attendees a virtual reality experience at PACK EXPO. I stopped by Cavanna Packaging USA for my first go at virtual reality.


Here I was fashioned with a headset and a pointer, afterwhich, PACK EXPO melted away to be replaced by an automated granola bar packaging factory. I was able to move about the virtual factory by way of the pointer, looking under, over, and inside the automated wrapping machinery. It was really cool, and disorienting! Here I am looking like a doofus!

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Sonoco Institute CUShop

Paper or plastic? I stopped by the Sonoco Institute (Clemson University) CUShop to do some shopping at PACK EXPO. Show attendees were invited to participate in the eyetracking research by choosing between common retail products, like toaster ovens, tupperware, and coffee makers, in a mock retail environment. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this ongoing eyetracking research, I invite you to download this study, where participants were asked to choose between products packaged in paperboard cartons and plastic clamshells. Learn more about this specific Klockner Pentaplast study here. The intent of the Sonoco Institute research is to understand how package design dicates product sales.

Upon arriving at the booth I was given eyetracking glasses and a clipboard on which to jot down my product selections.

clipboard.jpgMy glasses were then synced up with a software program that follows my gaze to see what I fixate on, and for how long.

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Then, it was shopping time! Which one will it be?! I just don't know!

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Here you can see on the tablet the eyetracking software in action!


Here is an example of some of the different candle packaging participants got to choose between:

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After shopping, I was debriefed by a Clemson University Packaging student, who asked a series of questions about my shopping choices; these attempted to get to the "why" behind my choices. My takeaway from this experience was that I often times didn't have a cognitive, "why!" I simply chose impulsively based on a myriad of visual cues that were internalized in nanoseconds. I'll bet consumer market researchers will have a field day with the research and I look forward to the published findings!

See you next year in Chicago, PACK EXPO!

Dordan to Host a Tour with the City of Woodstock, Mayor Brian Sager

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 20, 2017 11:53:56 AM

Woodstock, IL—October 3rd, 2017—Custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing, in celebration of its 55th anniversary October 25th, hosts a tour with representatives from the City of Woodstock and Mayor Brian Sager. This is the first time Dordan has hosted a tour with the City of Woodstock since it moved to Woodstock from Chicago in the early 1990s.

Dordan left its home on Elston Avenue in Chicago almost 30 years ago in need of a larger facility to meet the growing demand for its thermoformed packaging business. The building that was to become Dordan Manufacturing was located just adjacent to the intersection of Route 14 and Route 47, making it an ideal location for shipping with easy access to Interstate 90.

Since moving to Woodstock, IL, Dordan has added machining and production capacity, personnel, and quality management processes in order to evolve to meet the expectations of its diverse customer base. Dordan designs and manufactures custom thermoformed packaging like plastic clamshells, blisters, and trays for retail, healthcare, electronic, automotive, and industrial end markets. As it nears its 6th decade of business this fall, Dordan continues to invest to evolve with the implementation of its first robotics platform to streamline production.

Dordan looks forward to opening its doors and hosting representatives of the City of Woodstock and the Mayor on a tour, educating the City on Dordan’s products and services and its role in the local economy. Dordan employs around 75 personnel with diverse skill-sets, including management, engineering, machining, production, quality, sales, marketing, sustainability, and finance. Dordan is a full-service thermoform designer and manufacturer, which spans 50,000 square feet with an onsite tool and die shop and 11 in-line thermoforming machines.

Dordan CEO & President Daniel Slavin comments, “We are proud to manufacture plastic packaging in Woodstock and want to educate the City on who we are and what we do, as we’ve historically maintained a relatively private reputation. As we enter our 55th-year of business, Dordan looks forward to taking a more visible role in the economic and cultural sustainment of our home in Woodstock, IL.”


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Above: Dordan on Elston Ave., Chicago, IL, circa 1974


Above: Dordan in Woodstock, IL

Topics: custom thermoforming, plastic packaging, Manufacturing, Thermoforming, Woodstock, family company, Woodstock City, Brian Sager

New Packaging Digest Article: How to Change Plastic's 'Waste' Reputation

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 5, 2017 9:52:35 AM

Dear sustainable packaging friends,

My new article for Packaging Digest was published late last week. Titled, "How to Change Plastic's 'Waste' Reputation," this piece attempts to catalyze conversation around 'the great plastic divide;' that is, the opposing perspectives on plastic, which emphasize either its weaknesses or its strengths, while neglecting to acknowledge the entire picture of plastics. It was one of the hardest articles I've written, because it is largely opinion based. I encourage you to read it and share your opinion here or via email at [email protected].

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my latest Packaging Digest feature.

Click here to read.

Cheers to the sustainment of the planet and the plastics industry,

Chandler @DordanMfg

Learn about Dordan's sustainable thermoformed packaging.

Woodstock Mural Nears Completion: Photos of Dordan's Slavin with Mural Artist, and Designer

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 28, 2017 4:13:58 PM

Hello, my sustainable packaging friends!

In May I wrote about Dordan's donation to the Woodstock Mural Project, a community-wide art project dedicated to celebrating Woodstock's cultural legends. Dordan is in Woodstock, IL, (where Bill Murray's Groundhog Day was filmed!) and as such, maintains a deep commitment to the betterment of the Woodstock community. We work here, we live here, and we are invested in the sustainment of the local economy and social fabric that makes Woodstock a great place to thermoform custom packaging solutions.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet the mural artist, Mark Adamany, for a photo, along with mural designer, Michael Stanard. Stanard is owner of Woodstock's prominent graphic design studio, OneZeroCharlie, and Adamany is Chicago land's premier artist for large format murals out of Rockford, IL. The mural is nearing completion, and it really does look incredible. Here we are in front of a completed portion of it:

Woodstock Mural

And here Mark and I are high-fiveing because high-fives are for mural champs, obviously:

Woodstock Mural

Dordan looks forward to the completion of the mural and its continued investment in the Woodstock community.

Woodstock is a place that values its rich cultural traditions, while at the same time takes tremendous pride in the potential of its populous today. It is a great place to live and work, and Dordan is proud to manufacture here.

Topics: custom thermoforming, Corporate sustainability, Corporate social responsibility, Social sustainability, family company, midwest manufacturing

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