Cleveland — You know how some self-serve car washes have aging vending machines that eat your money? Michael Paloian designed the housing for a modern electronic one.
Paloian called the kiosk "a great example of how rotational molding was able to meet a number of very demanding criteria."
Paloian, president of Integrated Design Systems Inc. of Oyster Bay, N.Y., explained the project at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Rotational Molding Conference in Cleveland. He was not able to attend the event, but he addressed attendees remotely.
He said the automated kiosk system is a new idea for car washes. It is packed with electronics. And it's located in a harsh environment.
"The plastics insulated the internal electronics from the sun, so it had a functional advantage," Paloian said. The unit had to be easily assembled and weatherable for 10 years.
Paloian said the designers toured a lot of car washes.
"By visiting these sites, you gain a greater appreciation for what's required from a user standpoint to a branding standpoint," he said.
The original concept was a rotomolded shell with panels and twin-sheet vacuum-formed front and back panels. It was a fairly complex assembly that could suffer from different rates of expansion, he said. And the client wanted the housing all in one piece.
Paloian hit upon a one-piece rotomolded shell that would fit over the kiosk's metal stem and base. On the initial model, he designed flat sides, but he said that flat sides can be difficult in rotomolding and an irregular surface was not ideal.
So the designers went back to the drawing board — a CAD model on a computer screen — and redesigned the part with a slight curvature.
"This slight curve ensures us a good surface all the way down," Paloian said.
The end result: a one-piece rotomolded core with vacuum-formed cover panels. The panels have decorative features, and they cover powder bridging on narrow areas of the rotomolded core, he said.
Designers used self-forming screws. The rotational mold was CNC-machined.
Paloian said the kiosk shows some key features about rotomolding: "In reality, rotational-molded parts can be held to greater tolerances that the industry traditionally says."
"This product has been a huge success," he said. "They can't keep up with their orders."