CHICAGO - After a three-year absence, Grosfillex Inc. returned to the resin-category winner's circle at the International Casual Furniture Market. Another firm, Shae Designs, won the wicker category for a wicker chair with PVC strands.
The resin award, considered the industry's highest honor for plastics outdoor furniture, graced the Grosfillex booth during the Sept. 18-22 Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Grosfillex, which injection molds furniture in Robe-sonia, Pa., won top resin honors in 1990, 1991 and 1992. But over the next three years, other forms of plastic furniture won - a rocking chair made of recycled plastic lumber in 1993, a recycled composites table in 1994 and, last year, a wicker chair made with plastic strands.
The 1996 winner, an oval table called Modulis, sports a poly-propylene film with a bronze design around the outer rim that matches colors on the webbed backs of the chairs. Grosfillex injection molds the PP resin table at its plant in Robesonia.
Resin tables with molded-in film have been around for a few years. Most of them look like marble. The film is a way to break up the flat-color look of a standard resin table.
Carel Harmsen, Grosfillex chief executive officer, said the competing tables use film that comes in a roll, with a continuous inked-on design that is imparted over the entire table top. The Modulis film, on the other hand, is custom made by silk screening specifically for Grosfillex, he said. It is clear in the middle so the table's dark green resin color shows through.
Suggested retail price of the large oval table is $299.
``What you get with this technology is it adds to the beauty of the table and decor and aesthetics,'' Harmsen said.
The film also makes the table very scratch resistant.
Industrywide, film technology has improved, after some early trouble, Harmsen said.
``It went through a lot of problems. There were problems with [ultraviolet] stabilizing of the film. It is not an easy technology to have film on a table,'' he said. ``It gets a lot of beating.''
Actually molding the tables presents a challenge, too, because the film can move with the plastic in the mold. On a round table, Harmsen said, the plastic melt injected from the center moves at a consistent rate to the other edge. But with oval tables, a single injection point causes problems because the plastic moves at different rates.
Grosfillex technicians solved that problem by using sequential injection. Plastic is injected at one point, then when it gets to a certain place in the mold, another injection point kicks in, continuing down the mold.
``If you have a long table, you need more than one injection point,'' Harmsen said.
In the wicker category, ``resin wicker'' has allowed Oxnard, Calif.-based Shae Designs to expand wicker into a new type of outdoor furniture, the sling chair. The Nan-tucket ``takes a contemporary position in style,'' said Richard Frinier, vice president of design and market development for Shae's sister company, Brown Jordan International of El Monte, Calif. Frinier and Shae President Dale Boles designed the Nantucket. The chair features a contrast of colors - tan resin wicker hand-wrapped over an aluminum frame in either green or black. Suggest-ed retail price is $129.