VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — A humongous slab of high density polyethylene and mineral filler dominated the Structural Plastics 2000 parts competition in a couple ways. Physically, the 525-pound structural road mat loomed over most other products on display.
And the product, molded by Louisiana's Loma Co. and entered by mold maker FGL Precision Works Ltd. of Concord, Ontario, was the big winner, capturing both the prestigious conference award and the building and construction category. FGL President Frank Meisels accepted the trophies for the mold maker.
The Structural Plastics Division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. conducted the design competition as part of its 28th annual conference, held March 26-28 in Vancouver.
Division judges chose the current winners among 52 entries, down from last year's field of 88. SPI division director Allen Weidman estimated total Vancouver attendees at 225, including 62 first-time visitors. This was sharply off from the 370 at last April's event in Boston, and even lower than the 270 reported at the 1998 conference in St. Louis.
Several observers suggested the West Coast location, and the fact that NPE 2000 in Chicago is less than three months away, combined to hold down participation this year.
Gas-assisted molding was used on 17 parts in the 2000 competition. Injection molding and structural foam were the next most popular processes, used on nine parts each. Reaction injection molding and low-pressure structural foam processes were used on five parts each. Several parts used multiple processes.
The following summaries describe the winning entries:
Conference Award and Building & Construction Award: FGL has built 24 sets of tools for use on a vertical compression press molding the HDPE structural road mats. Loma Co. of Carencro, La., simultaneously molds eight parts in eight molds in a stack configuration on a custom-built, 800-ton press from Pressing Systems Inc. of Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Each mold of custom-forged, aircraft-quality aluminum measures 166 inches long and 98 inches wide. Mats are connected back to back and linked together for field use. Soloco LLC of Lafayette, La., leases the mats to oil companies, utilities and others needing a temporary driving surface on soft ground. Wood was the only option for users until the large plastic mats arrived on the market in October 1998.
Judges' Award: Horizon Plastics Co. Ltd. of Cobourg, Ontario, uses low-pressure structural foam molding to make the polyethylene Radbox sectional underground access chamber. Judges liked the product's flexible design and utilitarian uses. The thin-wall modular system comes in varying heights, widths and lengths, uses secure-locking corner insert modules and can withstand a vertical load of 80,000 pounds. The Radbox is shipped flat, cutting transportation and storage costs by 50 percent. Each unit is assembled on site, usually to protect telecommunications and other equipment. FGL Precision Works Ltd. of Concord, Ontario, made the aluminum tooling.
Environmental Award: Attwood Corp. of Lowell, Mich., created a sturdy, adjustable sport fishing-rod holder principally of recycled polycarbonate and uses three plastic production processes: gas-assist injection molding, straight injection molding and metal-plastic composite molding.
Attwood's Pro Series holder has an adjustable "cam-lock" mounting post as part of the structural assembly linking the holder firmly to the boat. Smart Forms Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., used computer-aided design in making the design, and Elite Mold & Engineering Inc. of Sterling Heights, Mich., made the molds in aluminum for prototypes and steel for production.
People's Choice Award: Attendees liked the appearance of the bright-green, reaction injection molded rear hood on two updated models of commercial mowers from Deere & Co.'s turf-care unit in Raleigh, N.C. Plastic replaces metal here.
GI Plastek Inc. of Newburyport, Mass., uses a high-heat-grade polyurethane with an in-mold coating system that yields a Class A surface on the 29-pound hood. The unit consolidates several parts from the former design and is suitable for use in temperatures ranging from 250§ F to minus 20§ F. PPD of Sherbrook, Quebec, made the single nickel-shell cavity with an aluminum core.
Computer & Business Equipment Award: A computer-aided design achieved a sculptured appearance in creating a front cabinet door for the Unisys Corp.'s [email protected] enterprise server ES7000. Best of all, the low-pressure structural foam process permits precise duplication of the design and economical manufacturing costs.
Applied Power Inc.'s APW Enclosure Systems molds the polystyrene part at its plant in Anaheim, Calif., using aluminum tooling from L.B. Molds Inc. of Gardena, Calif. Primer, base and texture coats of PU are applied to the finish the door.
Consumer Electronics Award: A gas-assist injection molded roll cage of polypropylene can cushion heavy-duty work-site electronics, withstanding multiple six-foot-high drops to concrete without damaging the radio or charger. Black and Decker Corp. of Towson, Md., entered the three-piece plastic cage, which outperformed inflexible aluminum and steel in product protection, cost and manufacturing ease. A metal cage transferred a damaging shock directly to the instrument. Altitude of Somerville, Md., used a computer-aided-design program and finite element analysis in designing the cage and housing. Tung Kong Machinery Moulding of Hong Kong made the molds and manufactured the parts.
Industrial Award: GI Plastek uses reaction injection molding and a single-cavity aluminum tool to make both halves of long-range proximity readers for security equipment manufacturer Casi-Rusco Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla.
Roush Crucam Inc. of Livonia, Mich., made the mold, and GI Plastek does the molding utilizing a proprietary ProTek in-mold composite system. An in-mold priming of PU speeds finishing operations, which include application of a PU topcoat and a PU texture coat.
Lawn & Garden Award: Bemis Manufacturing Co.'s Contract Group of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., uses a robot-attended coinjection molding machine to transfer mold a soft-touch steering wheel.
Bemis can change the style of the metal insert and the color of the soft-touch material to meet the needs of different customers wanting a customized product. The system has two wheels in sequential stages of completion during each cycle.
Materials Handling Award: Myers Industries Inc.'s Buckhorn Division of Milford, Ohio, designed, developed and molded a two-piece polyethylene bulk storage and discharge container to hold 2,500 pounds of product such as seed or small parts. A user can invert the top unit over the pallet-style base and cut total height by 60 percent for storage or return transit. An internal funnel and sliding door are used with gravity to empty the center-flow container. Brinkman Tool & Die Inc. and Merit Mold and Tool Inc., both of Dayton, Ohio, made the molds.
Medical & Scientific Award: Modern Plastics Corp. of Benton Harbor, Mich., used extrusion blow molding to make a foot board for a hospital bed for Hill-Rom Co. Inc. of Batesville, Ind.
Hill-Rom machines off a portion of the PPO/polyphenylene ether skin, opening a cavity for electronic components and allowing easier field service than on standard hospital beds. Using computer-aided design, Hill-Rom created a tack-off design that avoided the need for foam to get needed strength. Mach Mold & Die Co. of Benton Harbor made the one-cavity steel mold. Previously, two injection molded parts were solvent-bonded together to create the board.
Recreation & Leisure Award: The Richmond, Quebec-based thermoplastics group of Camoplast Inc. eliminated two secondary processes when it created a metallic-finished lid console with an insert molded graphic for Polaris Industries Inc. personal watercraft.
Three Camoplast employees worked for more than four years to create "environmental visual parts" technology that now involves an ultraviolet-ink developer, a graphics-printing house and a Melbourne, Quebec, thermoformer. In June, Camoplast asked Polaris for use of the existing injection molding tool to demonstrate the concept during the off-season.
The thermoformer shapes and die-cuts a 0.5-millimeter-thick ABS film containing a metallic finish and computer-modified safety warning graphic. Camoplast inserts the preform as a substrate in the gas-assisted molding of the ABS console on a 250-ton press. Previously, Polaris painted the part conventionally and glued on the safety warning at a facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Retail & Consumer Products Award: MSI Mold Builders of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, entered an animal transport and pet house that was developed for Blitz USA Inc. of Miami, Okla.
Ignition Inc. of Plano, Texas, created a modern unit with a pleasing appearance, and Action Products Co. of Odessa, Mo., molded the lightweight, functional carrier with low-cost polypropylene that provides a soft sitting area for a pet. The product features air vents, a pulling or carrying handle, removable food containers, removable wheels and a retractable metal door. Cantilever hinges permit disassembly for storage.
Single Parts Award: Goshen Rubber Cos. Inc.'s thermoplastic division in Englewood, Ohio, scored with an ergonomic, dual-color hammer handle that it sends through three separate robot-aided injection molding processes. Emerson Tool Co. of St. Louis designed the Robo Hammer for Applied Concepts Inc. of Warrendale, Pa., and Eagle Mold & Tool Co. of Carlisle, Ohio, made the two-cavity steel tool. The dead-blow hammer has a shock absorbing, cantilevered head and the grip-shaped thermoplastic handle, which comes in right- and left-hand models. Wynn's International Inc. of Orange, Calif., acquired Goshen on Dec. 19.
Transportation Award: Decoma International Inc. and its Polyrim Green Lane division in Thornhill, Ontario, entered an unusual two-piece automotive spoiler that is made with fast-cycle reaction injection molding rather than injection or blow molding. Decoma's exterior systems engineering group in Troy, Mich., and customer General Motors Corp. designed the horizontal exterior part and selected polyurethane and polyurea as the materials. Regal International Tool & Mould Inc. of Windsor, Ontario, made the steel tool.