Students at Shawnee State University's Plastics Engineering Technology program are getting exposure to the Imflux low-pressure injection molding process, thanks to a system the company installed on a 100-ton Milacron Roboshot injection press at the Portsmouth, Ohio, school's Advanced Technology Center.
Imflux is a business of Procter & Gamble Co., developed to mold using constant, low pressure and slow filling. It's the opposite to conventional high-pressure, fast-fill injection molding.
Larry "Skip" Miller, a professor in the department of engineering technology, said the Imflux donation — which includes instruction — will help Shawnee State give its plastics students a well-rounded education.
"They're giving us the opportunity to not only teach scientific molding but also the Imflux technique that is totally different," he said.
P&G, the consumer products giant, founded Imflux in 2013. Imflux runs out of its own facility in Hamilton, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. Shawnee State is in Portsmouth, about 125 miles away along the Ohio River.
The university began offering a two-year associate degree in plastics technology in 1971. It expanded to a four-year bachelor's degree in 1989.
Shawnee State has placed five graduates at Imflux, and that connection is paying dividends for the school. Rick Pollard, a Shawnee State graduate, served as the lead educator for the Shawnee project. Imflux process engineers Miranda Metzung and Justin Meyer, also alumni of the plastics program, installed the system and are doing the training for both students and faculty.
Shawnee State has about 100 students in its plastics program. The school held a Plastics Day on Dec. 6 that drew 180 people from the community, Miller said.
Jodi Hammock, Imflux's director of human resources, education and customer experience, said the leaders of the technology company decided in mid-2019 to spread the message to universities.
"As we were talking about our strategy and how to you get the industry talking about the [system], we thought, what better way to do it than to reach the students who are going to be using it in their careers?" Hammock said.
Pollard said when the decision was made to reach out to colleges, he immediately thought of his alma mater in Portsmouth.
Hammock said Imflux is planning to work with five schools offering plastics education.
Imflux automatically adjusts for viscosity changes, allowing the molding of a wider range of materials, including recycled plastics. Miller said the recycled angle will help another area company, PureCycle Technologies Inc. in Ironton, Ohio.
PureCycle's recycling process was developed and licensed by P&G to convert polypropylene to near-virgin quality. The technology also could handle polyethylene, PureCycle officials have said.
The installation of Imflux continues a renovation and upgrade of the Plastics Manufacturing Lab, located in Shawnee State's Advanced Technology Center. Contributions have come from major companies such as Milacron, KraussMaffei Group, M. Holland Co. and Stanley Electric U.S.
Miller said when plastics firms help universities with equipment, materials and the expertise of their people, it benefits both the business and the students, who will be the plastics industry employees of the future.
"We're encouraging companies to work with universities to get their technology out to the students," Miller said.