A plastic burial vault made by Centro Inc. won two awards — Product of the Year and Conversion — at the Association of Rotational Molders' Rotoplas conference.
Formed Plastics Inc. of Carle Place, N.Y., also picked up two awards, for recycled content and innovation. ARM also announced three student awards.
All Rotoplas attendees voted on Product of the Year candidates at the trade show and conference, held Nov. 1-3 in Rosemont. Centro displayed one of the vaults in the product competition area. People stopped to watch a video showing tests that included a backhoe pushing down on one of the buried vaults.
Centro began molding the vault for Batesville Casket Co. about a year ago, said Brian Olesen, president and CEO of the rotomolder based in North Liberty, Iowa.
A casket goes inside the vault, which is normally made of concrete. “Normally, if you go to a funeral today, they keep the concrete vault out of sight in the ground. So this is a little more aesthetically pleasing — they can use it at the gravesite where they use it as part of the ceremony,” Olesen said.
Centro bought a new Ferry 330 rotomolding machine, which the molder helped design, to mold the burial vault at Centro's plant in Claremont, N.C. The company molds the vault from linear low density polyethylene and fills it with PE foam. Eight molded-in inserts allow above-ground assembly. Lakeland Mold Co. made the cast aluminum mold.
Batesville Casket acquired the rights for a plastic burial vault from another company, then visited other rotational molders before picking Centro.
“The specifications were largely written by the concrete industry and we've got to pass these stringent tests to get into cemeteries,” Olesen said in an interview. “What drew them to us is, we have a very strong engineering department and so we were able to do the design, all the engineering and the [finite element analysis] work. We put together a model that, at least with the FEA, would pass the center-load test.”
Centro worked with Batesville Casket to design the vault, which weighs 225 pounds. “It has to be sealed, and even when it's in the ground, if you have a backhoe that drives over it, or is digging the adjacent grave, they consider it a failure any time the seal breaks,” he said.
The vault can flex, but it cannot touch the casket.
“So it has to meet all that criteria, and the only way you can do it really is to foam-fill it to give it the structure,” Olesen said.
Other winners were:
Formed Plastics picked up the Recycled Award for a beehive stand made from recycled PE. The stand raises the hive a foot off the ground, allowing easy access and reducing heat buildup. Ballast posts allow the legs to be filled with sand for stability.
The customer uses the recycled content as a selling point.
Formed Plastics also won the Innovative State of the Art Award for a large, three-piece MRI housing, which replaced a fabricated housing when the fabricator could not keep up with demand as sales increased. The customer picked rotomolding as a way to up production and lower costs.
The MRI machine requires only the targeted body part, such as an arm or a leg, to be inside the system, unlike a full-body MRI.
In the student design competition, Kristen-Lehua Barcheski of Western Washington University Bellingham won first place for a lightweight rotomolded saddle stand, shaped like the curve of a horse's spine. She won $2,000.
Second place went to Noah Jack, also of Western Washington University, for a rotomolded tank that mounts on a bicycle, for transporting water in Africa.
Jacob Otto of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design won third place for a rotomolded adaptable skate park.
The second and third place winners each received $1,000.