IRVINE, CALIF.—Industrial designers and the plastics community must talk more frequently to move polymers effectively into more structural applications.
The problem between product designers and suppliers is a lack of communication, said Glenn Beall, an injection molding consultant with Glenn Beall Plastics Ltd. in Libertyville, Ill.
``There is very little going on that we don't know how to do and do right the first time,'' Beall said, ``so why do we screw it up so much?''
About 60 designers, plastics suppliers and processors mulled the problem in a day-long session April 13 in Irvine. For the third year, the Industrial Designers Society of America's Materials and Processes Section held its spring meeting with the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Structural Plastics Division.
The key is to become a part of the supply chain, to get everyone involved at the earliest possible moment of a new product cycle, said Jack Avery, manager of operational assets for GE Plastics in Pittsfield, Mass.
``That is what the Structural Plastics Division is all about,'' said Avery, a past division chairman who launched the group's strategic alliance with the IDSA section. IDSA is based in Great Falls, Va.
``Our goal is to raise the awareness of the design community about the importance of understanding materials and processes'' and how they affect design, said Warren Ginn, industrial designer at Fort Wayne Plastics Inc., a large low-pressure structural foam molder in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Communication appears to be the key aspect.
``Simultaneous engineering means more in plastics than with other materials,'' said Gary De Angelis, senior plastics engineer in Rochester, N.Y., for the Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems unit of General Motors Corp.
``Processes and properties go hand in hand,'' he said. ``It is impossible to tell a manufacturer that you want this part'' without telling him what the part does and what material to use.
Steve Van Hoeck used the term ``concurrent participation'' and said he has noticed ``something of a change with automotive within the last one or two years'' under the label concurrent engineering.
``Usually this is a linear process where designers are developing what they think marketing can market,'' said Van Hoeck, principal with the consulting firm Aegis Technologies in Mount Clemens, Mich., specializing in gas-assist technology.
``Get people in the room right away [and make sure] everyone takes responsibility early on,'' said David Bank, president of Papago Plastics Inc. of Rochester.
``It is important that the right questions are asked at the right time.''
In June, Papago expects to take delivery of a gas-assisted system from Gain Technologies Inc. The firms cooperate now.
Bank favors projects that involve prototyping and rapid aluminum tooling, and also manufactures parts via vacuum forming, injection molding and blow molding parts. Papago employs 30.