SPE holds first-ever Global Parts Competition

By: Bill Bregar

May 12, 2014

LAS VEGAS — Call it the Super Bowl of SPE parts contests — the Society of Plastics Engineers kicked off its first-ever Global Parts Competition at Antec 2014, as nine award winners from local divisional conferences vied for overall awards under the theme “Plastics for Life.”

Jon Ratzlaff, the outgoing SPE president, announced the winners at the society’s press conference April 28 at Antec, held in Las Vegas. He hopes the theme and bigger stage of Antec gives the parts, and the designers and companies that produce them, more publicity.

“We really want to promote this to the world. We don’t want it going out just to the plastics industry, although that is a key, because people want publicity to get their parts out there. But again, what we want to show is what plastics can do for the improvement of life,” Ratzlaff said.

Winners are:

Protecting Life Award was awarded to Plasan Carbon Composites, based in Bennington, Vt., for a carbon fiber X-brace over the engine of a Dodge Viper, to provide torsional stiffness, improving handling. The brace features an exposed-weave design.

Quality of Life Award was awarded to the blow molded BrightPak liquid dispenser developed by Plastic Technologies Inc. of Holland, Ohio. A bottle within a bottle, BrightPak is designed to replace large glass bottles that store chemicals used in areas such as semiconductors, light-emitting diodes and flat-panel displays. Accepting the award, PTI President Scott Steele said the glass bottle shatters if dropped, and the liquid is very expensive.

“Our goal is to solve that impact problem,” he said.

BrightPak also netted Plastics Technologies the Improving Life Award.

Another product also won two awards in the SPE Global Parts Competition, this one a thermoformed automotive part from Europe. Picking up both the Sustaining Life Award and the Grand Prize was the rear door assembly for the new Renault Twizy electric car, made by Walter Pack Igorre of Bizkaia, Spain. The small door, with a single brake light, is assembled from five thermoformed and one steel part. The plastic parts are ABS and polycarbonate/ABS.

The nine total contestant parts were on display throughout the conference. They were submitted by the Rotational Molding Division, the Automotive Division, the Blow Molding Division, the European Thermoforming Division and the Automotive Composites Division.

SPE selected a panel of judges with experience in parts competitions. Divisions were allowed to submit two winners from parts competition categories — but Ratzlaff said SPE plans to allow more next year.

The judges worked from videos, PowerPoint presentations and written documents, all on a secure website. Judges decided which category each award fit into.

Ratzlaff said they decided on the “life” categories rather than traditional awards for blow molding, thermoforming and other plastic processes.

“Think about it a minute. The world’s not going to know what blow molding vs. thermoforming is,” he said.

Companies had to pay to ship the parts to the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, where Antec 2014 was held. That gets expensive, so Ratzlaff said SPE is looking for sponsors to help defray costs next year.