Rotational molders in the U.S. have been reluctant to change their old routines and adapt to new technologies. Paul Nugent, an independent rotomolding consultant in Reading, Pa., urges companies to keep an open mind, take advantage of new technologies and optimize their production cycles.
``It's surprising how much information and how many techniques are already available that rotomolders could implement to improve their cycle and productivity, but [new technology] doesn't seem to make its way to the shop floor very often,'' Nugent said at the recent Association of Rotational Molders International Annual Meeting in Rosemont.
A lot of technologies promoted in the industry take a long time to be adopted, which has been impeding the industry to close the gap between rotational molding and other processes, he said.
On one hand, the industry is seeing developments in semiautomated mold frames and fully automated machines, as well as polyethylene and even polypropylene processes.
On the other hand, ``We are not improving in some other areas,'' he added. Beyond PET, material selection is still limited. Some molders are still ``stuck in old-thought processes.''
Nugent wonders why. ``I don't know if it is fear, fear of technology and new ideas, or people just don't think it's necessary.'' No matter the cause, he said, rotomolders are not moving forward as quickly as they could.
For instance, Nugent said, not enough companies are using multilayer technology. Also underused are single-shot foaming, which allows for very rigid structures; internal pressure and internal cooling; direct temperature control; and molded-in graphics.
To get started with new technologies, Nugent suggests molders understand their level: some make basic but profitable products, others use general molding applications that have critical specifications, and still others use advanced processes that push the limits of rotomolding.
The next step is to carefully select technologies and products that fit their needs.
``Companies should choose materials properly based on the application that's required, not the first or cheapest material you find available. Make sure the molds are properly designed for the operation,'' Nugent said. ``Make sure the machine is properly matched with the volume and productivity required. And above all, make sure the direct process control is in the loop.''