An Introduction to KFI’s In-House Design Team: Studio 540

Studio 540 is KFI’s internal design studio, capable of providing insight into projects that require ergonomic and aesthetic innovation.   

Studio 540 is KFI’s in-house design studio. With skilled industrial designers and animation specialists, Studio 540 offers services to KFI customers that few other organizations can. From 3D renderings and CAD modeling to virtual reality presentations and concept animation videos, Studio 540 goes above and beyond for KFI’s customers.  

Through an established design process and thorough communication, Studio 540 creates sketches, models, animation, virtual reality environments, and brings real products to life.  

Step One:  

Ideation- The first step in the Studio 540 process is always ideation. A good product is conceived by addressing consumer needs and improving products through innovation. Once a business case is established, Studio 540 begins multi-departmental collaboration and offers an array of solutions in the form of expressive sketches. 

Step Two:  

Sketching- Our designs then consider the many facets of a project and create the first depictions of the product through sketches. Aesthetics, mechanics, ergonomics, assembly and manufacturability are further explored with refined sketches. Sketches are styled to reflect automotive surfacing and visual strength. Ergonomics considerations are developed to solve the end user’s needs. 

Step Three:  

CAD Modeling- Sketching is followed by a more technical creation of the product through CAD Modeling. Studio 540’s design team is capable of realizing 3D forms through solid/surface modeling techniques.  High fidelity CAD models help the Engineering team incorporate design aesthetics into the final product. 

Step Four:  

Rendering- Moving on to the rendering step in the process means building on the 3D models and creating realistic digital creations. Photorealistic images enhance CAD data with simulated light, advanced materials and camera perspective. Renderings of both existing and conceptual products are essential for effectively highlight product design and are one of Studio 540’s specialties. 

Step Five: 

Model Making- The fifth step focuses on preemptively identifying and solving conceptual issues through Model Making. Improving the ergonomics of conceptual products can be addressed early on with model making.  Using foamcore, 3D printing and metal fabrication, costly problems can be proactively identified and solved before tooling is made. 

Step Six:  

Virtual Reality- After a model is approved, the Studio 540 designers bring the product to life through Virtual Reality. Full-scale CAD data from Studio 540 or the Engineering team can be dropped into vehicles and environments for an immersive exploratory experience.  Ergonomic considerations can be easily explored through Virtual Reality capabilities. 

Step Seven: 

Animation- Lastly, our skilled designers create unique animated pieces to showcase product capabilities.  3D animations exhibiting the functionality, style and innovation of products are an indispensable tool for promoting and communicating our product capabilities to consumers.  



How Penda Utilizes Thermoforming to Develop Custom Solutions for OEMs

At Penda, we’re more than just a manufacturer of drop-in truck bedliners. We specialize in creating highly customizable, thermoformed solutions for OEMs across many different industries. These industries include automotive, agricultural, construction, heavy truck, industrial, recreational, and many more. Our team understands that businesses face numerous challenges in these areas that often feel daunting. That’s why, each day, we work hard to apply our extensive capabilities and experience to help deliver custom solutions to fit your organization’s needs.

Through collaborative engineering, refined processes, and a range of value-added capabilities, the solutions we can offer to OEMs are top of the line when it comes to quality and customizability. We’ll touch on a variety of solutions we can create and our process in making them a reality.

Penda’s Array of Thermoformed Solutions for OEMs

When a customer approaches us with a new product or solution they’re developing, the first question they often ask is: Can it be thermoformed? And chances are, it can! The beauty of the thermoforming manufacturing process is that it can be used to create smaller consumer products like suitcases, or even larger full-system solutions like a driver’s lounge for the heavy truck industry. The possibilities are endless.

By working with the Penda team, you tap into a large group of engineers who will never shy away from developing a custom thermoformed solution. When it comes to the OEM space, our teams can utilize thermoforming to develop parts for equipment, or even a fully-scaled and customizable system of components. Some of the industries that we have experience creating thermoformed solutions for OEMs are:

Agricultural and Construction Equipment: From wheel well liners for tractors to fenders and shrouding for construction equipment, we’ve seen it all. Our capabilities in thermoforming allow us to create and customize massive components for agricultural and construction equipment.

Automotive: When it comes to creating thermoformed solutions for the automotive industry, no one can top our experience at Penda. Whether it’s a drop-in bedliner or a custom automotive accessory, we can make it a reality. It’s what we do every day.

Heavy Truck: Your transit workforce deserves the best. Some of the solutions we’ve developed for transportation include under-bunk storage solutions, headliners, and in-vehicle lifestyle solutions for Class 8 fleet trucks.

Industrial: We’re one of the largest thermoformers in North America, and we have the capabilities to create some of the largest thermoformed parts and components that can be used on many different pieces of equipment and machinery in the industrial space.

Recreation: Some of the most exciting solutions we can create come from the recreation industry. From thermoformed kayaks to bedliners and hoods for golf carts. You name it, we make it.

Our Process for Developing Custom Solutions

Bringing products to life through thermoforming is our passion. It starts with who we are and is reinforced in everything we deliver. With our decade’s worth of experience in engineering and refining processes, we have what it takes to create solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner. Whether you’re starting with a concept sketch on a napkin, or already have product renderings, we’re here to help you at every step along the way. Below, we’ve outlined the process that allows us to be an industry-leading supplier to OEMs

  1. Project Ideation & Requirements
  2. Concept Sketching
  3. Design, Surfacing, and Rendering
  4. Materials Engineering
  5. Tooling
  6. Prototyping
  7. Testing and Validation
  8. Production

As we manage the life of your project, we constantly place an emphasis on product and process improvement with a LEAN focus. We work diligently using Kaizen initiatives to pull improvement ideas on the manufacturing floor, and with order fulfillment and logistics processes.

At the end of the day, you can count on Penda to deliver custom thermoformed solutions to help you overcome the challenges facing you now and in the future. Contact us today to receive a quote for your custom thermoforming needs!

Penda’s Capabilities as a Leading Thermoformed Plastics Manufacturer

Penada Manufacturing Facility

As one of the largest thermoformers in North America, we’ve spent years refining processes, implementing new technologies, and developing a deep-bench of supplier partnerships to create a vast array of custom thermoformed products and assemblies. These new processes, technologies and partnerships enable our team to apply their capabilities and years’ worth of experience to deliver high quality solutions at completive costs.

When it comes to these value-added capabilities, we specialize in the following areas:

In this article, we’ll dive into these specific areas to highlight the unique capabilities we have as one of the top thermoforming manufacturers.

Engineering and Design Capabilities

Our expertise in the areas of engineering and design is fundamental to providing advanced solutions for our customers. When you work with Penda, you take advantage of over 25 years of product and thermoforming design. We work hard to overcome your most challenging requirements by leveraging a variety of advanced tools and systems. Some of the design tools that we utilize are:


  • Siemens NX CAD, 3D Modeling and Design
  • Siemens Advanced Simulation (Nastran) FEA/CAE
  • Siemens I-DEAS 3D Modeling and Design
  • Dassault Systemes CATIA V5 3D Modeling and Design
  • Dassault Systemes SolidWorks 3D Modeling and Design
  • PTC Creo (PRO-E) 3D Modeling and Design
  • AutoDesk Inventor and AutoCAD 3D/2D Modeling and Design
  • Accuform T-Sim thermoforming and Blow-Molding simulation/optimization
  • STEP & IGES translations to/from any CAD/CAM software
  • Multi-axis Digital Scanning and Layout
  • CMM Multi-axis Layout
  • 3-Axis CNC Milling / 5-Axis Router
  • Virtual Reality tools

Through the use of these tools, our engineers produce various design outputs that include multiple OEM Tier-1 TeamCenter-Integration Direct-Connections, connections through secure cloud-based file-exchange, color imaging 3D renderings, ANSI/ISO standard drawings, multimedia printing, 3D printing, and more!

Another key component of our capabilities in engineering and design is our ability to perform rapid prototyping. By combining our engineering skillset with extensive in-house tooling facilities, we can go from concept drawings to producing prototypes like no one else. This gives our customers the advantage of reviewing fit and function to ensure that materials, processes, and parts are just right before investing in hard tooling.

One of the final areas in engineering and design that allows us to excel as a plastics manufacturer is Studio 540. Studio 540 is our internal team of industrial designers that develop some of the most cutting-edge automotive solutions for custom OEM applications. In addition to using a lot of the tools talked about before, Studio 540 incorporates virtual reality technology to showcase and implement the designs they make.

Thermoforming and Extrusion Capabilities

The next area that we specialize in is thermoforming and extrusion. At Penda, we offer an unmatched array of thermoforming technologies and techniques to meet an increasingly wide range of customer needs. By applying lean processes, unique work cells, and other smart approaches, we can do everything more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever. Some of the advantages that thermoforming offers are lower costs for tooling, prototypes, and materials. The manufacturing process also allows us to produce high quality, large components when needed. These advantages couldn’t be possible without our advanced thermoforming techniques which involve twin-sheet thermoforming and twin-sheet composite thermoforming. Making use of these processes helps us create solutions that are optimized for weight, structural performance, and overall quality.

When it comes to extrusion, our capabilities our second-to-none. Because we produce our own plastic sheets, you benefit from reduced product lead time, maximized product quality, and cost-efficiency. Our equipment and extrusion expertise lie in these areas:

  • HDPE, TPO, and glass filled polypropylene and acrylic co-extrusion
  • Polyolefins and engineered plastics extrusion
  • Anti-slip, anti-stat, smooth or grained sheets
  • Many color options, solid, capped, and laminated films

Finishing and Assembly Capabilities

Finishing and assembly services are another capability that we possess as one of the largest thermoformers. With our experience in technical and complex assemblies, you’ll quickly find value-added benefits and reduced costs when choosing us as a manufacturer. We fully assemble our manufactured components with purchased components for complete assembly and can ship them directly to you. Our strategic partnerships with other key suppliers that hold expertise in other manufacturing disciplines equips us with a vast range of knowledge that makes Penda your sole supplier for complete solutions.

At Penda, our facilities are equipped with specialized fixtures and gauges that maximize the precision of each component we produce. By combining these tools with our supplemental part integration and assembly process, we stay at the top of our game when it comes to quality and efficiency. Some of the key benefits that come with choosing us are:

  • Multi-component integration    
  • Vendor Management    
  • Line Sequencing
  • Full assemblies for turnkey solutions     
  • Subassemblies for simplified product integration
  • Fixtures to expedite alignment
  • Gauges to confirm exact locations of critical components            
  • Domestic & global sourcing        
  • Freight distribution cost reduction

Materials Capabilities

The final area that we specialize in as a manufacturer is our expertise in materials selection and conversion. The primary materials we use are HDPE, TPO, and TPR resins. However, we’re not limited to these.  Over the years, we have worked with numerous engineered plastics including ABS and many, many more. 

At our facilities, we have five large extruders with co-extrusion capabilities to produce the sheets of plastic we use for production. The main colors we process are black, grey, and tan, but we have the abilities to process any color your custom project requires.

Our proven record of success with helping customers reduce material and tooling costs through material conversion  helps deliver a range of advantages. Among the other benefits that working with Penda brings, our material conversion benefits include:

  • Reduced part weight
  • Enhanced structural integrity
  • Easier, less expensive tooling
  • Recyclable and recycled materials
  • Numerous secondary finishing requirements

With over 30 years of experience in thermoformed products and solutions, we have the process knowledge to optimize performance of leading-edge materials. You have set requirements and costs, and we have the capabilities to customize these solutions to exceed your expectations.

If you’re interested in learning more about our capabilities or want to start the process of developing a new custom thermoformed solution, contact our dedicated team to receive a custom quote.

Portage manufacturers making thousands of hospital beds to help with nationwide shortage

PORTAGE, Wis. — In anticipation of hospital bed shortages due to COVID-19, Oklahoma-based parent company Kruger Family Industries has announced that its two Portage-based manufacturers are teaming up to make thousands of emergency and disaster relief beds.

Vice President of Human Resources Todd Spencer said Penda is known for making truck bed liners and Trienda is known for making plastic palettes to serve the food and postal service industry.

“We were deemed non-essential. We wanted to find something to get our employees back to work as soon as possible,” Spencer said.

The collaboration efforts between all departments sped up the process to make this possible. Spencer said this process that would normally take anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, came together in three weeks.


Local companies changing practices to help local hospitals

SAUKVILLE (WKOW) — Rebel out of Ozaukee County is a company primarily dedicated to making sanitary wet wipes, but they are shifting their focus to making masks.

“We started talking about it and started making them for our own employees, and we heard there was a shortage of masks, so we said we don’t have time to make masks for everybody, but we do have time to donate all the materials to make a mask,” Mike Kryshak, owner of Rebel Converting in Saukville said.

They are now asking businesses statewide who have the time to help with the assembly of the masks.

“Companies that have a nice, clean, controlled environment that can have enough room so they can socially distance people to make the masks out of our kits,” Kryshak explained.

Rebel has a goal of making one million masks.

“The medical college is leaving with a hundred thousand today, so we’re going to burn through these pretty quick,” Kryshak said. “We’re probably going to have to wind up doing it again.”

Another company found a creative way to help. Kruger Family Industries in Portage is pulling their resources together to make emergency and disaster relief beds.


Penda Corporation in Portage recognized for energy efficiency

There’s more to be gained from energy efficiency than money, according to the leaders of Penda Corporation.

The Portage manufacturer has saved almost a half-million dollars thanks to 30 completed energy projects since 2012, and last week the company received recognition for its recent success from Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program.

“But what Portage should really know is the projects allow us to invest in the best people. We’re looking to build for the future,” said Todd Spencer, Penda Corporation’s vice president of human resources.

Penda, which manufactures plastic automotive parts, including its main product of pickup bed liners, completed 14 energy efficiency projects in 2018. It has either completed or is working on another 18 projects in 2019.

The company was among 18 Wisconsin businesses to receive an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award from Focus on Energy, which is funded by 107 Wisconsin utilities and provides rebates to companies that invest in energy efficiency. Penda collaborates with Alliant Energy (its utility) and Focus on Energy on the projects, many of which have converted compressed air to electricity.


Penda Recognized For 2017 SPE Automotive Awards

Spanning nine categories, the winners of the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division’s 2018 Blue Ribbon Automotive Innovative Awards (which this editor helped judge) represent a number of “firsts” in metal replacement and in replacing earlier plastics solutions with better options. In this 47th annual competition—the oldest and largest such event in the automotive and plastics industries, all but one category entailed the use of thermoplastics.



Designed for GM’s 2017 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, this “first-time” twin-sheet thermoformed bedliner divider is integrated into the bedliner as one piece. By not having to manufacture a separate floor divider part, there was a cost savings of $275. Manufactured by Penda Durakon, the divider is made of TPP 1026EU TPO from A.Schulman Inc., Fairlawn, Ohio. It incorporates a molded-in locking feature to secure the divider to the truck wall when it is raised.

Read the full article as originally published on Plastics Technology.