CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 25, 2:20 p.m. EST) — The signature John Deere green was splashed all over the parts competition display at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Structural Plastics Division conference — as Bemis Manufacturing Co. won design awards in three categories for parts it molds for Deere tractors and utility carts.
Bemis of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., picked up honors for the categories of agriculture/lawn and garden, single part and transportation. SPD announced the product design winners March 23 in Charlotte, at its 32nd annual conference.
The honors for agriculture and single part went to components that go on Deere's model 7000 tractor: an engine enclosure for the agriculture award and, for best single part, the top hood. In the transportation category, Bemis won for the Deere utility cart, called the Gator CS/CX and the Gator MPX.
Bemis uses coinjection molding for all three parts, allowing the company to put regrind into the core to reduce costs.
SPD said the engine enclosure is the first product to use coinjection molding to produce large parts from engineering-grade resins in thick walls — 6-8 millimeters — in a cost-effective system. The hood and side panels have a skin of polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthalate, and a core of regrind ABS. That gives the parts very high impact strength and good stiffness. A one-piece front grille frame allows the entire grille/light system to be mounted to the frame in a single module.
Each hood assembly contains 15-20 pounds of regrind, Bemis said. A polyurethane topcoat was applied to the cosmetic body parts.
Mold makers on the tractor engine enclosure are Triangle Tool Corp. and Tooling Technologies, both of Milwaukee, and CDM Tool & Manufacturing of Hartford, Wis.
Winning the category for single part, the 7000 tractor's top hood also is molded of PC/PBT, with a wall thickness of 6-8mm. Each hood contains an inner layer of ABS regrind, from 9-11 pounds on each shot.
The tooling, made by Triangle Tool, boasts two large core pulls, seven collapsing core sections and four sets of expanding lifter units.
The winning parts from the Gator utility carts used several types of processing: injection molding, extrusion blow molding, coinjection molding and rotational molding. The process was chosen to suit the demands of each part.
Bemis said utility vehicles are the first to replace high density polyethylene with a coinjection molded blend of PC, acrylic sytrene acrylonitrile and styrene acrylonitrile to improve the gloss, stiffness and mar-resistance. The core material is ABS regrind.
Delta Mold Inc. of Charlotte and CDM Tool built the molds.
Bemis also molded glass-reinforced nylon parts for the cowl assembly for the supercharged four-stroke outboard boat engine for Mercury Marine — which won four awards in Charlotte, including the top honor, the SPD Conference Award.
Fifty-one parts were entered, representing 13 different molding processes, said Daniel Swistak, chairman of this year's parts competition. He is director of manufacturing technology for Infiltrator Systems Inc. of Old Saybrook, Conn.
Injection molding was the most common process used, accounting for 36 of the 51 parts, according to Jack Avery, manager of operational assets at GE Plastics in Pittsfield, Mass. Under the broad injection molding umbrella, 17 parts used straight injection molding, 10 used gas-assisted molding, five involved coinjection and three used multimaterial molding.
In one new feature, Avery said three of the parts used the direct compounding process, where an extruder does compounding, then feeds a log of material to a compression molding machine, which stamps out the part. More widely used in Europe, the technology is gaining a foothold in the United States, he said.
Avery said some parts used more than one process.
Structural foam was used to make five of the entries, four employed reaction injection molding, four parts used compression molding and three parts used extrusion blow molding.
Avery said rotomolding, profile extrusion, bulk molding compound and cast polyurethane each were used on one part.
This year's contest spotlighted some dramatic examples of parts consolidation — and three of them boasted the direct compounding process:
* The winner of the Judge's Award, a running board for Ford Motor Co.'s F-250/350 truck, replaces 43 components with one piece that weighs just half as much as the metal original, but is three times as strong, Swistak said. Composite Products Inc. of Winona, Minn., uses the direct compounding process.
* Composite Products also uses in-line compounding to replace 52 parts with a single glass-filled polypropylene cover for the tank of a John Deere tank that holds crop seeds.
* On the third part, Meridian Automotive Systems of Salisbury, N.C., compression molds the underbody of a golf cart in a single plastic part, replacing 12 sheets of welded aluminum.
Avery said that type of parts consolidation will keep the structural plastics sector strong. “That's really the power of plastic,” he said.
Here are this year's winners:
BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION: StormTech LLC of Wethersfield, Conn., won for its giant, 76-pound chamber-section for underground storm-water detention. The 8-foot-long sections of yellow chambers fit together to create one long channel, buried under a parking lot, to remove runoff without the need for building a retention pond.
The part measures 50 inches wide by 30 inches tall. “This is the largest gas-assist molded part I know of,” Swistak said.
Swistak's company, Infiltrator Systems Inc., molds the polypropylene chambers for StormTech at Infiltrator's factory in Winchester, Ky., using a structural web Uniloy press from Milacron Inc. The machine, with 2,000 tons of clamping force, can pump out 6,000 pounds of resin an hour.
StormTech was formed by Infiltrator of Old Saybrook, Conn., and plastic pipe maker Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. of Columbus, Ohio.
Franchino Mold & Engineering Co. Inc. of Lansing, Mich., made the aluminum tool, which has multiple gas injection nozzles.
COMPUTER & BUSINESS EQUIPMENT: GI Plastek won for five parts it produces using gas counter-pressure injection molding, for Xerox Corp.'s WorkCentre Pro 40 Color Advanced Multifunction Office System. It allows the user to copy, print, scan, e-mail and fax in black and white and color. GI Plastek molds the left and right shelves, rear wall, paper tray and paper tray extension, from GE Plastics' Cycoloy material, an ABS/PC blend.
Marysville, Ohio-based GI Plastek said this is the first product for Xerox in the United States to use gas counter pressure, which fills the sealed cavity with nitrogen gas before the plastic is injected. That minimizes pressure during injection, creating less molded-in stress. The parts are more dimensionally accurate for flatness, and curvature. The need for support brackets was minimized because the parts can have thicker ribs.
No slides, lifters or core pulls were required on the molds, made by Solo Tool & Mold Ltd. of Windsor, Canada.
FURNITURE: Innovative Injection Technologies Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, injection molds several 18 percent glass-filled nylon parts, using gas-assisted molding, for a stacking office chair for Allsteel of Muscatine, Iowa.
The chair's structure flexes naturally, to counterbalance body weight and conform to support users of different shapes and sizes.
The toolmakers are R&R Tool and Mold Inc. of LaSalle, Ontario, and Iowa Mold & Engineering Inc. of Belle Plaine, Iowa.
INDUSTRIAL & MILITARY: EnviroTech Molded Products Inc. of Salt Lake City won for heavy-wall, glass-reinforced parts it molds for a large industrial filter device for the chemical industry, made by Hayward Industrial Products of Elizabeth, N.J.
The thick PP parts replaced fabricated and machined stainless steel, and fabricated plastic. They reduced the weight of the filter housing and offer better corrosion resistance than metal parts.
The mold makers are LeBac Plastic Mold Co. of Addison, Ill., and C&F Machine of Salt Lake City.
Last year at the Structural Plastics Division conference, EnviroTech won the Industrial & Military Award and the Conference Award for its injection molded PC jet windshield.
MEDICAL & SCIENTIFIC: The first-ever product from the new Rubbermaid Medical Solutions won for wheeled carts that store medicine for patients in a series of secure, self-locking, keyless drawers.
Rubbermaid Commercial Products, based in Winchester, Va., started the separate Medical Solutions operation in late 2002, and the winning cart is its first product, said David Dobersztyn, product development manager. The cart will go into production June 1.
Beach Mold and Tool of New Albany, Ind., molds ABS components for the cart, using 32 molds equipped with Husky hot-runner systems. Mold makers are Precision Works FGL of Toronto; Reddog Industries Inc. of Erie, Pa.; W.G. Strohwig Tool & Die of Richfield, Wis.; and Diversified Engraving Stamp & Machine Co. of Akron, Ohio.
Rubbermaid Medical Solutions said medical errors are responsible for some 98,000 deaths a year in the United States. To alleviate those concerns, some hospitals provide nurses with medical carts with a built-in, networked laptop computer that ties into Electronic Medical Administration Records, which uses bar coding to match medications with patients.
The design team, led by Rad Arceta of Rubbermaid Medical Solutions, spent a great deal of time in hospitals asking nurses how to make a better cart. Two carts on display were pre-production samples.
RETAIL/CONSUMER PRODOUCTS: Remember when you were a kid and you blended two colors of crayons to make a third color? Tupperware Corp. of Orlando, Fla., has taken that simple concept and, through innovative insert molding, created a line of bowls with a three-color design.
Tupperware uses PC to injection mold the Eleganzia serving line at its plant in Joue-les-Tours, France. First, Tupperware molds one piece of the bowl in one color, then the second part is molded in another color. Overlapping parts create a third color. The mold maker is Diecraft Australia of Reservoir, Victoria.
The Eleganzia line also won the first-ever Students' Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America.
JUDGE'S AWARD: Composite Products combines strength and aesthetic characteristics to make a glass-filled PP running board for the Ford F-250/350 truck by direct in-line compounding and compression molding of the long-glass-fiber reinforced part.
Traditionally, the running board was made from a metal assembly with a molded thermoplastic polyolefin cover fastened to the assembly. The PP running board is a one-piece part.
CPI developed a material formulation specific to the running board that meets the load-bearing requirements and resistance to ultraviolet light, while matching the molded-in color of the TPO. The part cut 30 pounds of weight from the truck. The mold maker was Prelude Mold & Manufacturing Ltd. of Windsor, Ontario.
For the first time, SPI's Structural Plastics Division in Charlotte held its conference and parts contest in conjunction with the Plastics Encounter trade show organized by Plastics News.