LEOMINSTER, MASS. - Emilio Iaco-boni, who played a central role in turning Leominster's Foster Grant Co. into America's first injection molding powerhouse, died Sept. 3 at the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, Mass., after an illness. He was 82. In recent years, he worked as a technical service representative for Huntsman Chemical Corp.
Eager to learn about injection molding, Foster Grant officials in 1930 imported a German injection press. They locked it away for further study in what became known as the Mystery Room. In 1933, Iacoboni got a job stamping out aluminum hair curlers, but he disliked the work and quit after only a few hours.
He wanted to become a farm-er. But he ended up rejoining Foster Grant in 1934 and became one of only a handful of engineers and executives with access to the Mystery Room.
The early Foster Grant machine that emerged from the Mystery Room ushered in the injection molding revolution. Foster Grant became the first firm to market injection molded plastic products commercially. Today, one of the presses is displayed at the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster.
The Leominster plant pioneered mass-scale injection molding in the United States. By 1938, more than 100 presses there were pumping out combs, trinkets, hair barrettes and other consumer products. The company also sold the machines to other molders.
Iacoboni, known in the industry as Jack, worked at Foster Grant for more than 50 years.
He was an active man, even in retirement. He often rode his motorcycle through town, re-called Tony Cetrone, who worked with Iacoboni at Foster Grant.
``I considered him one of the pioneers in molding, and one of the true hands-on experts in molding,'' said Cetrone, president of Micron Medical Products, a molder headquartered in Fitch-burg, Mass.
He is survived by his wife, Lorraine G. Iacoboni, a son and four daughters.