I read with interest your July 28 editorial (“Neglecting design hurts down the line,” Page 6) and I heartily agree with you. The Society of Plastics Engineers for years has had a division aimed at the design community — Product Design and Development Division (also known as PD3). SPE's PD3 has been active in the area within plastics where novel concepts become blended with materials, technology, processes and engineering.
There are events and forums where plastics and design meet. On Aug. 1 in Dallas, the Industrial Designers Society of America's Texas Chapter joined with SPE's PD3 and North Texas sections to host a “Meeting of the Minds” design event. PD3 board members Anne Bernhardt, Glenn Beall and Jordan Rotheiser often conduct seminars on designing for plastics, while I have done numerous presentations and seminars on going from concept and design to production. All PD3 board members are heavily involved in bringing both design and plastics communities closer.
Within the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the technical communities currently are setting up aids for plastics professionals and designers. As a leader of SME's Injection Molding Technical Committee, I am involved in creating costing models and checklists aimed at helping manufacturers and designers do their work more effectively.
The challenge that all designers and plastics professionals now face is the distrust of each other. Plastics engineers look at design and see the problems in making the part, and designers look at the challenges as roadblocks to innovation. How do we overcome those perceptions?
Communication, recognition and education are three pillars of getting the best from both disciplines. SPE, SME and IDSA are all working towards these goals at national and local levels. Companies and original equipment manufacturers can only benefit by having their employees as members of these organizations, yet many firms are cutting support for these associations.
What a shame.
Barbara J. Arnold-Feret
Prototyping and Rapid Tooling Services (PARTS)