Industry veteran Peter Herrmann has self-published a tell-all book about the evolutionary use of plastics in the auto industry.
"Plastics Exposed: The Incredible Story of How Plastics Came to Dominate the American Automobile," is peppered with personal anecdotes about a new life in America.
Herrmann was born in pre-World War II Wuppertal, Germany, in 1936. In 1950, he entered a multiyear apprenticeship program in as a machine fitter in Sonneberg, Germany.
In 1957, Herrmann received his engineering degree and married his now-wife, Ursula. That same year, they moved to Montreal, followed by a move in 1958 to Sarnia, Ontario, where Herrmann was hired to work on machinery at a paper converting factory.
He joined Detroit Plastic Molding subsidiary and automotive plastic parts supplier North American Plastic in 1965, where he learned about injection molding and decorating plastic parts. At this time, the average American vehicle included just 20 to 25 pounds of plastic.
"I remember the plastic smell when I arrived at the 10 Mile Road plant for the first time, and I remember the sight of the enormous molding machines," Herrmann writes. There were 23 presses in the molding room, ranging from 45-1,200 tons of clamping force.
At this time, DPM was making plastic parts for Ford Motor Co. for its Comet, Falcon and Mustang models; General Motors for its Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick brands; and Chrysler for its Barracuda and sedan vehicles.
"From that very first day," he writes, "I was hooked."