Collaboration nets design successes

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: September 14, 2012 6:00 am ET

This week’s special report on Plastics & Design highlights some of the opportunities for plastics processors — and suppliers — that are involved with the industrial design community.

Let’s connect the dots and consider some of the success stories:

* Apple Inc. has a reputation for keeping a tight lid on new products — which can be tough on companies that design and mold accessories.

But San Francisco-based Hard Candy Holdings took a chance this year and designed its ShockDrop cover for the new iPhone 5, assuming the new phone would be longer and thinner than previous models.

The bet paid off. Hard Candy was able to introduce its case an hour before Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, and now the new products are ready to ship from Hong Kong.

The ShockDrop case even accounts for a smaller connector and a shift of the earphone port to the bottom of the phone — a design change that caught other Apple accessory makers off guard — not to mention owners of older iPhones.

Big bets like this don’t always pay off. Last year, Hard Candy assumed the iPhone 4S would be the same size and shape as previous versions.

But being first to market with a newly designed product that will be in heavy demand is likely to pay big dividends.

* Eastman Chemical Co. collaborated with Portland, Ore., design firm Ziba to come up with new products using Tritan copolyester. The result was a whiskey flask called the Topo, with thick and thin curving lines that mimic topographical lines on a map.

The result? A product that shows off the capabilities of the material, plus a group of designers who now have a better understanding of the creative possibilities that plastics can offer.

* PolyOne Corp. held a 1½-day “design storm” with students from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., focused on developing concepts for the home health-care market.

The effort resulted in three new products, using a variety of materials.

In addition, the students now have hands-on experience with plastics. Their greater familiarity with the diverse properties that plastics offer is likely to pay off in future products.

As Rhoda Miel reports this week, resin companies have been investing in outreach programs and collaborating with industrial designers for years. To use a baseball analogy, not every effort is a home run.

But the singles are important too. As she noted, each new project continues to pay off with insights for resin makers — not just in terms of how designers think but in new information about their own products.

A growing number of plastics processors are following the same strategy, and it’s hard not to notice that many of them are among the most successful in their markets.

Loepp is editor of  Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”


Comments

Collaboration nets design successes

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: September 14, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events