Making maple syrup hasn't changed all that much in the past couple hundred years. But an injection molder in Williamstown, Vt., is making a new product that might revolutionize the process. Vermont Public Radio has the story about the new injection molded maple taps, molded by Progressive Plastics Inc. in Williamstown for Leader Evaporator Co. Inc., a Swanton, Vt., supplier to the maple sugaring industry. According to the story, Tim Perkins of the University of Vermont's Proctor Maple Research Center invented the spout. What makes it so special? The tap is fitted with a tiny plastic ball that prevents any sap from getting pulled back into the tree. That's important because once sap gets back into the tree, the tree starts to heal, which eventually shuts off the tap.
"With a valve in here, sap can't move backwards. And by doing that it prevents the tap hole from getting infected with microorganisms, keeps the tap hole clean and allows the sap to run longer in the springtime," Perkins said.Bruce Gillilan, vice president of Leader Evaporator, says the new tap "could be one of the biggest things that's happened with the maple industry, as big as when plastic tubing started and what it did for the maple industry then." Based on University of Vermont testing, he believes sugarmakers will be able to collect 50-90 percent more sap. Progressive Plastics is adding two weekend shifts to meet demand for the spounds, which will each last for one season and then be recycled.