ST. LOUIS—Parts that integrated disparate processes and materials were among the big winners at the annual design competition of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Structural Plastics Division.
A digital photocopier, a clinical diagnostic instrument and a hospital bed garnered awards at the April 1 event in St. Louis.
A sharp falloff in attendance at the event, to about 275 from the more than 375 at last year's meeting in Irvine, Calif., did not dampen enthusiasm for the best of the 68 design-contest entries.
Once again, solid-wall and gas-assisted injection molding proved to be the most popular processes, with straight injection used in 29 competition entries and gas-assist in 20 parts. Low-pressure structural foam was employed in 13 entries and coinjection in six, while the number of blow molded (two entries), rotomolded and thermoformed parts (one each) lagged well behind.
In all, the parts on display represented 11 different processes and 13 materials. Here is a summary of this year's winners.
SINGLE PART: FM Corp. of Rogers, Ark., teamed with MSI Mold Builders Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to make the base plate for Abbott Diagnostics' i2000 fluids analyzer. The part consolidates functions of the more than 100 parts it replaces.
SPECIAL JUDGES' AWARD: Hill-Rom Co.'s TotalCare hospital bed perhaps best-exemplified the marriage of technologies, combining four processes and five materials to optimize benefits. Modern Plastics Corp. of Benton Harbor, Mich., was the main blow molder in the project.
RETAIL HARDWARE: Pulsar Plastics Inc. of Carlyle, Ill., used both solid-wall and gas-assisted injection molding to produce the interchangeable, contoured polycarbonate panels and dispensing covers used in Crane National Vendors' vending machines. Oldcastle, Ontario-based Majestic Tool & Mold Ltd. made the molds for parts that featured molded-in texture and color.
MATERIAL HANDLING: GI Plastek's reaction injection molding business unit in Newburyport, Mass., replaced fiber-reinforced polyester with 18 percent glass-filled polyurethane to make a U.S. Postal Service mail chute and vane for Lockheed-Martin Tactical Defense.
The RIM PU's greater flexibility, combined with in-mold texturing and in-mold application of an electrostatic coating, keeps the mail flowing smoothly through the chute. Model Die & Mold Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., made the tooling.
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: Philips Consumer Communications of Guadalajara, Mexico, injection molded ABS into several complex tools made by Minco Tool & Mold Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, to make a high-tech telephone.
BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION: Sanjo, Japan-based Kyowa Molding Co. Ltd. used a novel, low-pressure, injection compression molding process to make a large, polystyrene bathroom panel for Toto Ltd. that had been vacuum formed. The process created a molded-in texture and cut the part cost 15 percent.
RECREATION & LEISURE: The RIM PU-encapsulated aluminum snowshoe made by Hamden, Conn.'s Milfoam Corp. for Tubbs Snowshoe Co. won this category. It also earned its designer, Eikon Product Realization Inc. of Burlington, Vt., the inaugural IDSA/Plastics News Design Award, presented at this meeting.
TRANSPORTATION: St. Louis-based Siegel-Robert Inc. designed and manufactured a fold-away auto side mirror for General Motors Corp. using two materials and two processes.
MEDICAL & SCIENTIFIC: The entire assembly of the i2000 clinical instrument molded by FM Corp. for Abbott Diagnostics captured this category.
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD: The Milan, Mich., plant of Visteon Automotive Systems used coinjection to make a front bumper fascia for Ford Motor Co. using a virgin thermoplastic olefin skin over a core of painted TPO recyclate. Tooling was made by Oldcastle, Ontario's B&B Tool and Mold Ltd., and manifolds by Incoe Corp. and Dynisco Co.'s Kona unit. Visteon claims the process is the first to sequentially coinject into a single cavity.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: The favorite entry as voted by the meeting's attendees was U-Haul International Inc.'s sport trailer, thermoformed out of ABS with a coextruded weatherable cap by TLC Plastics Ltd. of Gilbert, Ariz. Tempe, Ariz.-based U-Haul claims the vehicle is the first lightweight, all-plastic rental trailer that can be towed by all vehicles.
CONFERENCE AWARD: Mack Molding Co. of Arlington, Vt., teamed with MSI Mold Builders Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to make the Xerox Corp. Document Centre 265 digital copy machine that hauled home the contest's top honor. Mack used four materials and two processes to make the unit, which included Xerox's first all-plastic paper path.
This product also captured the prize in the computer and business equipment category.