The History of Brown Machine

About Brown Machine


Brown Machine's History


  Brown Machine  founder Gaylord BrownBrown Machine was founded in 1952 by Gaylord Brown as he changed the direction of his father's oil-drilling repair company to become a pioneer manufacturer of rotary and continuous thermoforming machines.

Thermoforming involves three steps: heating plastic sheet, forming the plastic either under vacuum, or vacuum-pressure in a mold, and trimming the formed part.

The company quickly gained a reputation of innovation in the thermoforming industry. One of Brown's first accounts was Kal Plastics, Beaverton, Michigan, USA. Miles Kalahar, owner of Kal Plastics was anxious to try Gaylord's new designs in his own operation and aided Brown in developing successful thermoforming equipment. With this relationship, Kal Plastics performed customer demonstrations and acted as a sales agent.

The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan, USA, assisted with technical information and the first thermoforming machine was delivered to Beaverton Plastics, Beaverton, Michigan, USA.


  continuously forming extruded sheet Robinson Industries, Coleman, Michigan, USA, an outgrowth of Beaverton Plastics, became interested in the method of continuously forming extruded sheet directly from the extruder.

In the late 50's Brown built a direct extrusion-forming machine, allowing for a complete pellet to product process.


  twin sheet thermoformingBrown was the first to introduce twin sheet thermoforming. Twin sheet thermoforming was developed as a way of forming double walled objects. Brown patented this process which heats two sheets, forms the individual halves and welds them together under mechanical pressure on the contact points. This thermoforming process also allows for the insertion of components between the halves prior to welding.

In the early 1960's, Brown developed bottle deflashing equipment that was originally licensed and further sold to Lyle Development in the 1970's


  The company moved to its current location on Ross Lake in Beaverton.

Gaylord sold the company to Purex Corporation. He remained active in management positions through 1971 and then served in consulting roles until his official retirement in 2000.


  container-forming factory Brown quickly outgrew the original 20,000 square foot building and expanded in 1962 with the addition of 30,000 square feet.

Brown Machine introduced spin-welding equipment for thermoformed containers. Spin welding allows the container user to fuse the sides and bottoms of containers together on-site, resulting in decreased shipping cost from the container manufacturer. In 1967, Brown built a container-forming factory to thermoform container halves for spin-welding equipment that was placed in the dairy industry. This business was sold in 1975.


  With the rapid growth of thermoforming equipment, Brown added another 30,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space.


  custom thermoforming machineBrown engineered and manufactured a custom thermoforming machine for processing automobile interior door panels.

First thermoforming covering for window frames.

Forming of additional building exterior products followed shortly after.


  thermoforming machines Brown manufactures many thermoforming machines for PS foam products. Early 70's PS foam egg cartons and rapid growth for foam clamshells for fast food industry.

During the mid 1960's, Brown innovated production equipment for lip rolling round containers. This enabled plastic cup manufacturers to compete with the paper cup market.

Brown began to build tooling for our continuous thermoforming machinery. With this addition, Brown was able to offer a complete line of turnkey thermoforming equipment, including the form and trim tools. Being involved in both the equipment and tooling segments naturally evolved into an in-depth understanding of the thermoforming process. Today, this process knowledge is a cornerstone to our customer service offering.


  First automatic cup transfer systems. This automated the movement of the cups from the trim press to the lip roller.


  Inline cut sheet twin sheet forming of boats. Boats used in recreational market and coast guard.

34,000 square feet of assembly area and office areas are added to the building.

In-line twin sheet substrate forming (wheel within a wheel) was developed to allow additional automotive interior components to be manufactured via thermoforming.


  thermofroming equipment technologyHigh speed decorating equipment for straightwall containers.

In the late 60's and early 70's, Brown developed high speed decorating equipment for straight wall containers (both metal and plastic). The thermoforming equipment technology for straight wall metal cans was licensed to Crown Cork & Seal and was sold in the late 70's. Brown retained the rights for plastic.


  In-line thermoforming machineIn-line thermoforming machine and trim press continual evolution.

Throughout the 1970's and 1980's in-line thermoforming machines and trim presses underwent continual evolution to keep pace with the rapid demand of containers for disposable cups, plates, lids, clamshells and food packaging.

Cut sheet thermoforming also experienced continual evolution to satisfy the demands of industrial, appliance, housing and recreational product markets.


  Cut sheet thermoforming with contact heat ovens for electronics industry shield from plastisized zinc material.


  Many special thermoforming machines for automotive industry for products such as fuel tank shields, automotive carpeting, door skins, instrument panels and headliners.


  Brown further expanded hot sheet in-line thermoforming by engineering and manufacturing machines with a 40" x 50" forming area. This innovation virtually doubled the machine forming capacity currently achieved with this process.


  Throughout the 1990's, Brown Machine revolutionized the design for growth of large cut sheet pressurized and twin sheet thermoforming machines for the production of various industrial, automotive and custom products.


  Brown Machine marketed its first servo-driven continuous thermoformers.

Brown expanded the development of more complete in-house tooling capabilities within our manufacturing facility.



  Brown Machine specifically designed and introduced continuous thermoforming lines with tooling for applications to produce medical container and rice bowls with a false bottom. Since these introductions Brown has continued to sell and innovate their equipment to produce polypropylene products.


  A vertical trim press was added to Brown's product line that allowed for more precise trimming and product handling with shallow draw products.


  Our dedication to quality enhancement continues to be reinforced through the company, which culminated in achieving ISO 9001 registration in May 1998. Our commitment to quality will help us sustain a leadership roll in the plastics thermoforming industry.


  Additional manufacturing space constructed.

Brown expanded with the addition of a modern 14,000 square foot high bay facility to accommodate building large continuous, cut sheet and special thermoforming machines. Today, our facility is a modern, 143,000 sq foot facility that can facilitate virtually any machinery requirement.

Brown also introduced their first thermoforming machine with independent third platen motion within their CS-Series line.


  The millennium began with the introduction of a high speed four screw lip roller which was developed with extensive customer involvement.


  Brown again increased the envelope of the hot sheet in-line machines to include a 50" x 50" forming area.



Brown designed and manufactured a 50" x 60" thermoforming line with a vertical trim press for production of foam plates. The system incorporated a 30 cavity plate tool with double row trim tool. This system was then configured to a direct fed hot sheet line for production of rigid plates. These systems produce upwards of 60,000 plates per hour.

Brown began shipping a new series of special equipment designed and manufactured to produce twin sheet fuel tanks.

The company was saddened by the death of its founder Gaylord Brown in April 2002. Gaylord had dedicated his life to the thermoforming industry and the company he had founded.

Brown Machine celebrated a milestone event with its 50th anniversary in 2002. Since its founding, the company has manufactured over 10,000 thermoforming machines with related equipment located in 42 different states and 65 countries around the world. Brown has also installed several complete turnkey thermoforming systems.


  Brown markets a lip roller designed specifically for rolling the lips of polypropylene containers



Brown Machine completed a program for the design and manufacture of 17 special thermoforming lines to produce twin-sheet fuel cells with robotic insertion for the automotive industry.

Brown Machine awarded a patent for their tool design utilizing an external plug assist plate.

Thermoforming tools with an external plug assist plate provide customers with significant reductions in air consumption of their 3rd platen thermoforming equipment.

Thermoforming machinery and tooling manufacturer Brown Machine LLC was granted a U.S. patent for a quick-change tooling concept that allows rapid installation and removal of plug assists without the need for hand tools. The bayonet style feature allows plug assists to be individually installed or removed with a simple hand twist.


  Brown Machine shipped 5 high speed / high technology pressurized cut sheet rotary thermoformers for the production of refrigerator inner doors and cabinets.


  Introduction of horizontal trim presses with servo actuation of the moving platen. In addition to constant speed applications, the servo drive allows for profiling the trim speed motion providing flexibility of integration with product handling and high tonnage low speed applications.

50” line for form and prepunch/perimeter trim of deep draw polypropylene horticulture containers. Line included several advancements to provide a large process window of the polypropylene material.


  Servo Treadle System to provide positive punch/pilot positioning to the product prior to movement into the trim die for precise trim concentricity.

High Efficiency Mold Clamp provides a positive seal by clamping the sheet to the pressure or billow box prior to pulling the bubble or plug assisting.

T-564L-Series horizontal trim press with 50 tons of trim force and 68” wide sheet successfully installed.


  Revolutionary form station design providing high tonnage pressure coupled with high tonnage coining to achieve precise and consistent material thicknesses.

High speed trim-in-place cut sheet rotary thermoformers with automated product extracting and handling.



Advanced fully-integrated and automated machine control system optimized for all Discrete, Motion, Temperature Control, Machine Safety and Visualization needs.

Brown was awarded a patent for the design of their independent plug motion system incorporating a roller screw for greater speed and load characteristics resulting in increased performance and durability.

Brown installed a B-Series Hot Sheet Thermoforming System producing over 250,000 hot drink lids per hour. The system incorporated a progressive trim application with 4 rows of  pre-punch and 4 rows of perimeter trim.

Introduction of the fully-equipped CS Quad Series that combines holding force of up to 260 tons with coining force of 150 tons, resulting in virtually zero deflection across the entire mold area (up to 64” x 64”). The Quad Series provides improved material distribution, reduced starting gauges, and a greater process window.


thermaforming machinesIntroduced the 54" x 64" Quad Series thermoformer with capabilities for up to 12" deep products.

Introduced the Magnum Four-Screw lip roller to produce lips on containers up to 11" in diameter.

thermaforming machines



Engineered match metal trim capability within SRS-Series thermoformers.

Introduced high tonnage coining capability within SRS-Series thermoformers.



thermaforming machinesIntroduced the Premier Quad Series thermoformer featuring increased tonnage, Smart Control machine intelligence, innovative oven temperature control and precision rail technology.
thermaforming machines
thermaforming machines

The Future

    Taking advantage of the growth in the industry will require us to be extremely competitive in a global market and to be leaders in technology advancements. Such advancements will enable us to better compete for applications traditionally coveted by injection molding and other producers.

We are proud of our heritage and accomplishments made through the years. Over this time Brown has earned its reputation as a customer oriented company, who are leaders in the manufacturing of thermoforming equipment, while providing excellent value and service.

For continued growth, we must build upon our reputation as a customer driven company. We will accomplish this by meeting the technologies, performance, customer satisfaction, and ability to work together as a team. We are confident with the pride and desire shared throughout our organization, our future will be bright for years to come.


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