LEOMINSTER, MASS. (March 10, 5 p.m. EST) — The Plastics Academy has announced the six-member crop of inductees into the Plastics Hall of Fame for 2003. New members will be inducted at a June 26 banquet during NPE 2003 in Chicago.
The Plastics Hall of Fame is in Leominster at the National Plastics Center & Museum. The Plastics Academy administers the hall.
The class of 2003 includes pioneers in injection molding, blow molding, machinery, resin sales and technical writing, plus trade association activists.
Samuel L. Belcher, the holder of 54 patents, is a blow molding pioneer who runs consulting firm Sabel Plastechs Inc. in Moscow, Ohio. Known as “Sam the Bottle Man,” Belcher developed the first injection blow molding machine for PET bottles while research director at Wheaton Plastics Co.
Belcher also patented the first flip-top closure for dish-detergent bottles while at Owens-Illinois Inc. Belcher's contributions extend beyond blow molding to injection molding and thermoforming. His inventions include one of Rubbermaid Inc.'s top-sellers, the spice turntable; the clamshell breakfast package for McDonald's Corp. in the 1970s; and the first PET stretch blow molded bottle with an integrated handle.
In a career that began in 1937, F. Reed Estabrook Jr. helped the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. overcome early controversies such as false charges of flammability and infant crib death mistakenly blamed on polyethylene mattress covers. He moved three pioneering plastics companies from thermosets into thermoplastic molding.
Fresh out of high school, he joined the newly created Plastics Division of Gorham Co. in Providence, R.I., as a press operator and setup man. The metals company experimented with phenolic and urea resins. As a toolmaker, he pioneered beryllium copper for molds for thermoset parts such as a large hair-dryer hood. In 1940, Estabrook joined one of the largest thermoset molders, Boston-based Northern Industrial Chemical Co, where he helped develop phenolic field telephone handsets and electrical boxes and telephone terminals for the military.
In 1943, he joined the Army Air Corps as a commander pilot of B-24 and B-32 heavy bombers. After the war, he developed Northern Industrial's molded melamine dinnerware, then expanded into thermoplastics. He co-founded Brook Molding Co. in Norwood, Mass., in 1955 and ran it until 1978. A division of Brook called Precision Molded Gearing Corp. became a leader in the plastic gear area. After selling the company, he started a consulting business in Dedham, Mass., called TAIM Corp.
Michael F.X. Gigliotti played a key role in plastics development and management in a 35-year career with Monsanto Co., from 1942-77. In the early 1950s he was project manager for the construction of major polymer plants in Ohio and Texas. He created and managed Monsanto's Structural Plastics Engineering Group, which carried out groundbreaking prototyping and commercialization projects to expand plastics in automotive, furniture, piping and construction. The Wall Street Journal featured the group in a page one story in 1955.
Gigliotti also headed up Monsanto's high-profile House of the Future, erected in Disneyland in 1957. He ran Monsanto's Lopac (low oxygen permeation packaging) project, which developed the first barrier materials and made an early plastic Coca-Cola bottle in 1969.
He took early retirement 1977, and went on to co-found TopWave Instruments Ltd. of Marietta, Ga., a supplier of laboratory testing and inspection equipment for plastic food and beverage containers. He also started a consulting company, MGA Inc. in Gloucester, Mass.
John R. Kretzschmar is a long-time industry organizer who has volunteered for all of the major plastics organizations. Currently, he is chairman of the Plastics Academy and president of the Plastics Pioneers Association. He is a past board member of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Kretzschmar was 1987-88 president of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
His career began in 1956 as a resin salesman for Kansas City, Mo.-based Spencer Chemical Co. After a three-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, he returned to Spencer in 1960 and sold resins in a five-state region. He then joined the early venture into plastics by Rexall Drug & Chemical — later Rexene Polymers. He advanced to national sales manager before leaving Rexene in 1970.
Kretzschmar founded a PE blown film maker, Blako Industries Inc. in Dunbridge, Ohio. He retired in 1996 and sold Blako to key employees.
His association work began when he joined SPE's Chicago Section in 1966. His volunteerism extends beyond plastics; he holds leadership posts at his alma mater, the University of Missouri, and at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he lives. He runs S&K Sales Consultants.
Dominick V. Rosato is a 60-year plastics veteran and the prolific author of 25 applied plastics handbooks — including 20,502 pages of technical writing in his books about plastics. Twelve of those books have been published since he “retired” in 1987.
Rosato is an eyewitness to the early days of plastics and composites research at the start of the Cold War and the early Space Age of the 1940s and 1950s. He worked at the Wright Air Development Center during World War II and again during the Korean War as deputy chief of plastics research and development.
His career began during World War II as a mechanical engineer at Wright Air Development Center's plastics lab. His first plastics technical writing in 1944 was titled: “All-Plastic Miltary Airplane Successfully Tested.”
He helped develop some breakthrough products, including the original plastic helmet for fighter pilots, enclosures for military radar, aircraft fuselages, refrigerated truck interiors and rocket nose cones. He personally fabricated several parts for Vanguard and Atlas rockets, launched in the post-Sputnik era.
Rosato lives in Chatham, Mass.
Albert Spaak of Little Falls, N.J., had a front-row seat to the history of the U.S. plastics machinery industry and materials development, in a career running more than 60 years.
In 1939, he became a draftsman for DeMattia Machine & Tool Co. in Clifton, NJ. His first exposure to plastics was when his company was asked to repair several early Isoma injection presses from Germany. Spaak helped DeMattia make its first injection press, with an electric drive and toggle clamp.
DeMattia shifted to war production in World War II, and Spaak was called on to design tooling for M-47 tank turrets and naval anti-aircraft gun components. He joined the U.S. Navy's Shakedown Task Force, getting newly constructed ships ready for combat.
After the war, Spaak returned to DeMattia as chief engineer, where he coordinated DeMattia's line of hydraulic injection presses. The company offered a complete package to customers, including the press, molds and auxiliary equipment. Spaak worked on what is believed to be the first small-package mold chiller and an early scrap granulator.
Spaak helped Mario Maccaferri, owner of Mastro Industries Inc., make machine and molds for a polystyrene ukulele. (Maccaferri was inducted into Plastics Hall of Fame in 1996). Spaak later joined Mastro as chief engineer, where Spaak designed special marbleizing cylinders for plunger-type injection presses, to create wood-grain parts for the instruments.
In 1950, Spaak joined W.R. Grace & Co.'s newly formed Polymer Chemicals Division, rising to the position of director of technical service and application development. He evaluated acquisitions to help Grace expand its reach in high density polyethylene resin. Working with a staff of 75 engineers and technicians, he invented new or modified existing equipment, including valve gating, which enabled thin-wall parts to be molded on a much faster cycle. Valve-gating, together with the new reciprocating screw injection molding technology, enabled Spaak's team and Columbus Molded Products to run an unusual demonstration, molding HDPE mixing bowls in the basement of a Macy's department store, as delighted shoppers lined up to buy them. Grace also imported a 1,500-ton Krauss-Maffei press to show large-part molding, of milk creates, during the 1958 NPE show.
Spaak's team also developed HDPE blow molding technology, and spearheaded on-site molding and filling at dairies.
He has devoted a lot of time to civic and industry projects. He served as mayor of his hometown of Little Falls, N.J., in 1993 and 1994. As executive director of the Plastics Institute of America, he broadened PIA's focus from just polymer science to include process development. After retiring from PIA in 1990, Spaak became a consultant, traveling around the world as a volunteer for the Internal Executive Service Corps.