The following items were reported by correspondent Roger Rowand from the National Design Engineering Show and Conference, held March 13-16 in Chicago.
Hettinga Technologies Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, has developed a way to incorporate textiles, film and metal reinforcement inside a part as it is being molded.
Vinyl trim, for example, might be molded with a polypropylene door panel instead of being added later through bonding or with fasteners.
During the design show in Chicago, Hettinga showed samples of products made possible with the new technology, which incorporates the company's precise control of its low-pressure casting.
With molded-in textiles, the company showed how automobile sun visors can be made more efficiently and with far fewer costly secondary operations than are necessary now. Officials said they expect a 1996 GMC truck to be among the first to use such sun visors.
Using the Hettinga process, manufacturers can - in one shot - mold a textile hinge between the upper and lower parts of a molded visor. The same molded-in textile serves as a decorative cover for the part.
Instead of molding the visor, then wrapping it in the decorative cover and sewing it, as often is done now, a user of the Hettinga system simply can mold, fold and bond.
IBM shows metal-encased computers
Molders seldom are accused of being complacent, but lest any feel comfortable, take note of an IBM Corp. exhibit.
IBM showed off two new industrial computers to point out plastics' competition. IBM Model 7585, the company said, has a metal cabinet and frame. Of the 7590 version, IBM said, ``The entire system structure is rugged. It has a die-cast front panel with extruded aluminum sides.''
Protection in tough industrial environments is a design goal and the chief reason for the metal housings, an IBM spokesman said.
Compression Engineering plans growth
Compression Engineering aims at compressing the amount of time required for its customers to bring new products to market. And, with shorter new-product cycle times high on corporate America's shopping list, the Indianapolis-based company is growing fast.
The company announced at the show that it has opened offices in Southern California and is expanding its operation in Atlanta. The company plans at least three more of its new-product development centers this year - in northern California, New England and the Southwest, Chairman Will Verity said.
Compression Engineering's one-stop-shopping format includes capabilities many companies cannot afford or don't acquire because rapidly advancing technologies mean quick obsolescence. Such services include mechanical design, computer-aided engineering, rapid prototyping, tooling and low-volume production.
``We offer a range of integrated services designed to dramatically shorten product development cycles while, at the same time, helping to optimize part or product design,'' he said.
In Southern California, staff is expected to reach 50-70.
Expansion plans in Atlanta call for adding tooling and low-volume production to the product menu this year. Staff there eventually may grow to 100 or 125.