Turning points in science and technology are not usually about finding the right answer but about discovering a better question.

Turning points in science and technology are not usually about finding the right answer but about discovering a better question. Several hundred years ago, scientists tied themselves in knots trying to explain the movement of planets around the earth. Then, Copernicus realized they should have been asking how the planets move around the sun. Today, when so many people are busy building a better mousetrap, maybe we should ask, why bother trapping the mouse at all? This kind of unorthodox thinking produced two of the most unusual plastics innovations that I have heard of in a while.

In our April issue (p. 64), Dr. John Beaumont of Beaumont Runner Technologies cast a whole new light on the age-old problem of "naturally balanced" molds that refuse to fill uniformly. While processors and mold designers wrestle with balancing molds by pressure alone, Beaumont discovered their problem would be solved if they thought about equalizing temperature as well. His "MeltFlipper" design slices the melt into streams of equal temperature that flow at exactly the same speed into all cavities.

This month, we've got exciting news about filling thin walls super-fast without accumulators or other fancy injection mechanisms. Engel of Austria discovered that the question is not how to make the machine move faster but how to make the melt move faster. Engel's X-Melt process fills the mold in milliseconds without even moving the screw.

Maybe the problem that you have been beating your head against isn't the problem that needs solving at all.