Trouble in Toyland Puts Premium on Lean Manufacturing
For a century, the Hedstrom companies have produced millions of play balls and components for gym and swing sets, riding toys, and other juvenile products. Today, faced with intensifying competitive pressures, the group is hard at work putting the right bounce into its survival strategy for one of the toughest molding sectors.
Your Business in Brief - May 2001
Natural Fibers in Plastics Up 60%/YrNatural-fiber composites will surge by 60% annually over the next five years, according to a new study from Klein & Co., Inc., Little Falls, N.J.
Instead of going to landfills, previously unusable mixed waste like auto shredder residue is yielding a new trove of inexpensive engineering resins for car parts. Sortation technologies derived from the mining industry can pull out usable ABS, PC, acrylic, PP, TPO, and PPO alloys.
If I were scaling a mountain peak, I would want to be confident that every member of my climbing team “knew the ropes.” You know what I mean: You want the best people in your plant on those critical jobs.
A new rapid manufacturing method for prototype thermoforming tools developed by Vantage Tool and Engineering (VTE) of Fort Wayne, Ind., generates high-quality short-run tooling in half the time and for half the cost of an aluminum production mold. VTE’s low-cost molds have proven useful for up to 500 molding cycles. Previous materials used for prototype or short-run thermoform tooling, such as epoxy or wood, reportedly are less durable and less able to provide highly detailed parts.
A brand-new family of thermoplastics for automotive and other markets offers an intermediate range of cost and performance between those of TPOs and engineering resins such as nylon, ABS, long-glass PP, and some modified PET and PBT materials. GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., has broadened its Noryl range of PPO alloys by adopting a new matrix material: polypropylene. New patent-pending technology allows the incompatible PP and PPO materials to be blended so as to create new balances of stiffness, toughness, and heat resistance in a moderate price range. Initial Noryl PPX grades are priced between $1.20 and 1.80/lb.
Sophisticated machinery, more engineering-grade materials, and more challenging applications are broadening the field for rotomolding.