Plastics companies have been investing in outreach programs and collaborating with industrial designers for years, but 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. "We went in thinking we would teach them all about our material, but they taught us a great deal," said Eastman Chemical Co.’s downstream engagement and design director, Cathy Dodd. The resin maker’s collaboration with Portland, Ore., design firm Ziba focused on creating a new product using Eastman’s Tritan copolyester. The result: a whiskey flask called the Topo, with thick and thin curving lines that mimic topographical lines on a map. Although not initially intended for production, Kingport, Tenn.-based Eastman is showing the Topo to customers, hoping to interest an OEM in taking it to market a liquor maker or perhaps a perfume company or another firm with an end use for small, specialized containers, Dodd said in an interview at the Industrial Designers Society of America conference, held Aug. 15-18 in Boston.