ASHLAND, OHIO-James Braeunig is tired of hearing about rotomolding's status as the Rodney Dangerfield of plastics, the process that gets no respect. ``We still aren't regarded as a significant process by the plastics people,'' said Braeunig, president of the Association of Rotational Molders in Oakbrook, Ill., and vice president of the plastics division of one of the largest rotomolders, Hedstrom Corp. of Ashland.
The reality, he said, is that rotomolding is growing more quickly than many other industry segments; the volume of resin used grew 23 percent in 1994, according to a study by Plastics Custom Research Services of New Canaan, Conn.
``When you can achieve 15-20 percent growth - and even during recessionary times we were still growing in the 10, 11, 12 percent range - I think that says something about the process,'' he said.
Educating product designers about the process remains a challenge, he said.
``We'll never be able to do these massive, huge volumes that blow molding is more suited for, but I think there's a lot more unique capabilities with rotomolding that blow molding simply can't do, nor injection molding, nor any of the other plastic processes.''
Like many rotomolding insiders, Braeunig thinks the industry's small size has hampered technological progress.
``I don't think the dollars have been thrown around to automate it as some of the other industries have,'' he said.
``Also, our material selection is not as broad as I'd like it to be,'' and molds can wear out under extreme temperature changes. Braeunig said suppliers are working on those problems.