In April, Paul Mertzlufft started a new company, moldDB LLC in Buffalo, N.Y., to solve mold management and maintenance issues faced by many plastics molding companies.
The company offers customers an online mold database and a library of tools that they can use to access information about all their tools, anywhere in the world.
Mertzlufft has a bachelor's degree from Penn State Erie and started his company after working in various positions at Harmac Medical Products Inc., including a stint in Mexico.
"I had two internships at the company in 2011 and 2012. The first was under a seasoned veteran in the plastics industry, and for the second I had to step up as the only plastics expert in the company as the past personnel had moved on."
Why were you interested in the industry? I became interested when I toured Penn State Behrend and saw the plastics lab they had. It was and still is a very impressive facility.
I knew I had always wanted to go into engineering. But seeing this facility and learning about all the different careers that can be found in this field, I knew this was the way I would want to go.
Greatest achievement? My greatest achievement while at Harmac was qualifying a brand-new tool and designing a fully integrated automation cell to support the injection molding machine. This included multiple robots manipulating the parts for secondary operations and inspections. I was the plastics expert, automation cell designer, robot programmer and involved in pretty much every other aspect of the launch. This was the first six-axis robot being used at the company and was launched without a hitch. This cell has been running 24/7 besides tool cleanings for over a year.
What is your current challenge at work? I have found that a very big continual challenge can be working in a bilingual environment. Working with a Mexico-based facility means that I have been speaking with Spanish-speaking workers and have tried to learn as much Spanish as I can along the way.
What emerging technology or market most interests you? I am very interested in the additive manufacturing industry and how it has potential to change the plastics industry. Currently, it has the ability to change low-volume manufacturing, but it will be interesting to see if it affects high volume in the future.
What is the best advice you have ever received? When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry? Do it! There are so many opportunities. You can find jobs that will get your hands dirty or sit behind a desk or even a bit of both. You can work in design, research, sales, manufacturing and more.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first? Create a fun and friendly working environment so employees can actually enjoy their jobs and not just look at it as a source of income.