Recent events in Toronto prove industry cannot afford to be complacent, no matter how lengthy the track record for a plastic product. Toronto's Board of Health is recommending a ban on PVC pipe in the city's water and sewage system, claiming it is a health hazard in production, use and disposal. Unable to convince public works officials of its dangers, the board will try to get Toronto City Council to vote for a ban at an April 29 council meeting.
The board does not accept mounds of evidence that PVC pipe is safe and helps the environment through energy efficiency. Its ``experts'' believe they know the real ``truth'' about PVC pipe, despite its approval by governments and construction agencies around the world.
We are not surprised that much of their argument relies on statements made by the environmental activist group Greenpeace in its campaign against any and all things related to chlorine.
The Vinyl Council of Canada division of Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Canada is standing up to this attack, refuting vigorously the board's allegations. They have fought this kind of battle before in other jurisdictions. The most recent turn of events has taught them this: One must be ready to fight again on short notice and in unlikely places.
Gas-assist focus turns to processing advances
Like a steady drumbeat, each spring's gathering of the SPI's Structural Plastics Division provides anecdotal evidence of the growing acceptance of gas-assisted injection molding as a mainstream manufacturing process.
The process came under the spotlight at the division's 1991 conference in Atlanta, when a much-hyped session brought together several competing suppliers of gas-assist technology - some of whom were busy suing one another over alleged patent infringements. Partly due to the chilling effect of threatened lawsuits, that year's event featured just one gas-assist entry in its new-product design competition. The number of such entries rose to seven the following year, to 10 in 1993, and 11 in each of the past three years.
At this year's April 1-3 gathering - also, coincidentally, in Atlanta - the gas-assist-related talk focused mostly on processing advances and product innovation. Giants like Motorola Inc. gave papers on their successful use of the process in metal-replacement applications, and Japanese automaker Isuzu Motor Co. Ltd. won Best Single Part award for its gas-assist instrument panel carrier.
Plastics News' ranking of North American injection molders offers additional evidence of gas-assist's growing popularity. This year 60 firms, or 9.5 percent of the 633 total respondents, say they use gas-assist. Last year 42 companies, or 7.8 percent of the 533 total respondents, claimed to offer the process.
At long last, plastics processors and designers - and not just patent lawyers - appear ready to exploit and benefit from a terrific process. And none too soon.