The Society of Plastics Engineers' thermoforming division announced the winners of its annual parts contest at a recent conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Plastics Unlimited of Preston, Iowa, won the People's Choice Award for a rear engine enclosure assembly on agricultural sprayers made by Hagie Manufacturing Co. LLC.
Plastics Unlimited officials said the part is one of about a dozen different exterior engine enclosure panels that fit together to create styling, air flow and improved serviceability. The parts had to pass many tests, including 2000 hours of Xenon Arc UV, accelerated weathering testing and high heat testing from the engine, turbos and radiators. They also had to pass other tests to ensure that they could pass everyday abuse, including scratches and aggressive chemicals that the sprayer applies on the crops.
The main enclosure material is custom colored Hagie Gray of smooth, high-gloss ABS with an acrylic cap bonded with fiberglass. The fiberglass increases the rigidity, durability and temperatures the assembly can withstand. The grill is thermoformed from black, high-temperature ABS/PC blended haircell textured material with a low-gloss acrylic film.
The part provided a solution for the customer, who was struggling with difficulty to service the enclosures with the previous design because of the huge size, Plastics Unlimited officials said. The new parts have much tighter tolerances and better fit, they added.
The project also involved a quick turnaround. Plastics Unlimited made about 40 parts of each of the dozen different exterior engine enclosure panels, all patterns, aluminum tools, trim fixtures and assembly fixtures in about two months.