Thomas E.

Brady

Inducted 2012

A pioneer of today’s PET industry, Thomas E. Brady, PhD began his career doing fundamental research on polymer orientation, work that led Owens-Illinois, Inc. into the manufacture of PET soft drink containers. He founded Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI), a leader in stretch blow molding of PET packaging, and is its CEO and president. He also founded six other packaging-related companies, including Phoenix Technologies International, LLC, the world’s largest recycler of PET. He holds six patents on PET and packaging technologies.

In 1972, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Dartmouth College, Dr. Brady received his PhD from the University of Michigan. His doctoral thesis, Structure and Deformation of Glassy Amorphous Polymers, was a harbinger of things to come. He joined Owens-Illinois in 1972, ultimately becoming vice president and director of R&D for O-I’s Plastics Group. His research at O-I on optimizing polymer performance through orientation paved the way for commercialization of PET carbonated soft drink bottles. Other achievements of Dr. Brady’s team included the first use of short-wave infrared reheat systems for blow molding machines; the commercialization of rotary continuous-motion blow molding systems; and the evolution of injection molding cavitation from 8 to 72 cavities. In later years the team pioneered the commercialization of in-mold labeling, spill-back spouted containers, and secondary “carrier” packaging.

In 1986, Dr. Brady founded PTI as an R&D company assisting brand owners, with the Coca-Cola Company as its first client. PTI partnered with Coca-Cola in the commercialization of the company’s first contour bottle, creating the preform and blow molds and expanding the cavitation on both to make PET competitive with glass. Lightweighting eventually reduced the 2-liter bottle from 57 to 44 grams and the 20-ounce bottle from 31 to 24 grams. He was instrumental in demonstrating that a PET soft drink container did not require straight sidewalls. Working with Graham Packaging, PTI helped develop hot-fill packaging and assisted in developing the Tropicana Twister bottle, featuring innovative shapes and curves to enhance marketing appeal.

Areas of Expertise: Plastics materials, Plastic processing, Plastics packaging

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