Get Millennials To Work for You—Part 2, The Job Posting

By: Jim Callari 24. May 2016

Are your company’s job postings more like a smart phone or a rotary phone? Tips on how to post job listings that pique the interest of the next generation.


In part one of this three-part series, Paul Sturgeon, business manager at KLA Industries, a recruiting firm with offices in Cincinnati and Largo, Fla. that specializes in plastics, spoke about techniques you can use to determine how appealing your company is to Millennials. Sturgeon calls this your “Millennial Score.”


In Part 2 here, Sturgeon offers sage advice on how to post job listings that pique the interest of the next generation.


“If today’s typical job description were a telephone, it would be hanging on the wall, with a big round dial and 10 holes in it numbered from 1 to 0," Sturgeon states. “The baby boomers in the workforce, those currently between the ages of 52 and 70, could still use this old rotary phone and don’t have any problem with these job descriptions. But if you want to attract Millennials, it’s time to write the job description like a smart phone. Just as you would with any other marketing materials, think of these potential candidates as your customers and write the job description with them in mind.”


To drive this point home, Sturgeon came up with a few samples from “old school” job descriptions and some suggestions on how you could re-write that with your Millennial candidate-customer in mind. What follows is paraphrased closely from some of the top results off a leading job site search for “Injection Molding Engineer.”


Old School: Our company, a custom injection molder serving the ___ and ___ industries, is seeking an experienced and highly motivated individual for the following position in our molding division.


New School: We offer a competitive salary and benefits package with very friendly and relaxed work environment. We have just moved into our new facility located in ____. It is an exciting time to join ____. We are growing and moving into new products and markets and require an enthusiastic and dedicated teammate to help us realize these strategic goals. Come and see what ____ has to offer you and your future!


Old School: The successful candidate will be a “self-motivated” individual who has a minimum of three to five years of experience in a ____ environment or a Bachelor's Degree in Plastics Engineering. States Sturgeon, “Yes they actually used quotation marks for some reason.”


New School: We are smart, interesting, and sometimes quirky people solving problems big and small. We are seeking creative, curious, and intelligent people to join our ranks. Our company was founded on the power of a good idea. And we know that good ideas can only come from people. Because of this, we believe that self-managed people are our greatest resource and pride ourselves on our outstanding culture to support them.


Old School: Client is seeking qualified senior product engineers for its headquarters in ____. This position will report to the Engineering Director. This is an engineering position requiring independent decision making, project management and leadership. Senior engineers perform tasks or analyses of a complex nature and may coach or direct the work of less experienced engineers or technicians.


New School: We are working with some of the world’s largest companies, helping them solve problems, create efficiencies, and grow the economy. As a ____ employee you get to be on the ground level of innovation – producing new products, leading testing and rapid iteration, and propelling new technologies to the next level.


As far as Sturgeon is concerned, “To make room for the cool, interesting, attractive things you are going to say about your company and the opportunity, you can delete all of the following if they currently appear on your job description:


  • Detail oriented, excellent communication skills (both written and verbal);
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office products;
  • Ability to work as part of a team (even if your teams are cross-functional, or multi-disciplinary);
  • Self-motivated, driven, enthusiastic, multi-tasker, etc., etc., etc.;
  • An unwavering commitment to safety; and
  • A positive attitude.


“Just to be clear, I am not saying these things are not important,” Sturgeon notes. “But the desired outcome of your job ad is to attract potential candidates, and no one thinks they don’t have good communication skills or work well within teams, so it doesn’t further your objective."


Now that you’ve perhaps attracted the Millennials’ interest, Part 3 will focus on the interview process.


Part 1: Get Millennials to Work for You


job application description

More New LED Lighting Materials—LSRs, PPs and PCs

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 22. May 2016

Wacker’s LSR encapsulants, Trinseo’s advanced PC, and Panasonic’s light diffusion PP are among the latest options.


My third PT blog installment on interesting information that did not make it into New Materials Shine Bright in Growing LED Market, our upcoming June cover story, discusses new materials from Wacker Chemie, Trinseo, and Panasonic.


Wacker Chemie, LSR Encapsulants for LEDs and Optical Components. Wacker’s new LSR compounds Lumisil 590 and 591 are highly transparent, addition-curing silicone elastomers with a refractive index of 1.53, which means they rank among the high-refractive-index (HRI) encapsulants. Such grades are particularly well suited for manufacturing highly-efficient LEDs. The HRI silicone protects the sensitive LED chip against mechanical influences and corrosive gases. At the same time, the silicone’s high refractive index enables optimum light efficiency.


Semiconductor chips used to generate light in LEDs have a high refractive index. To maximize the amount of light emitted by the LED chip that can pass through the encapsulation, the refractive index of the chip and encapsulant must be roughly the same value. Thanks to their refractive index of 1.53, Lumisil 590 and 591 reportedly make LEDs highly efficient. What’s more, the highly transparent silicones are almost completely transparent for light in the visible spectra range (400 to 700 nm) and reportedly do not yellow even when radiation is extremely intense. Transmission tests with Lumisil 590 show that a one-millimeter-thick layer lets over 91% of visible light through. These two materials are said to protect the LED chip reliably against environmental influences. Corrosive gases such as hydrogen sulfide can damage the LED chip and reduce its performance. Tests show that LED chips encapsulated with these materials are protected against such damage longer and have a prolonged life.


These new HRI silicones are said to be easy to process, heat-resistant and absolutely tack-free after curing. They also exhibit optimized flow and crosslinking characteristics. With a viscosity of the mix of 2000 and 2500 mPas respectively, they enable efficient, cost-effective processing. Both products are suitable for encapsulating the LED chip via contact-free dispensing processes, and they form cured rubber grades of varying hardness. With a hardness of Shore A 65, Lumisil 590 is relatively soft, whereas Lumisil 591 is formulated to be significantly harder at Shore D 40.


 Trinseo, Emerge PC 8330LT Advanced Resin & Tyril 905UV SAN. Trinseo began supporting the LED lighting market sector early on in the industry’s evolution and offers a broad portfolio of materials under the Caliber PC and Emerge Advance Resin brands, including: transparent, light diffusion, ignition resistant, and reflective grades used by several global OEMs for lenses, optics, diffusers, reflectors, and housings.


Late last year, it launched next-generation materials including Emerge PC 8330LT, an advanced PC that has been recognized for its ability to fill the need for a transparent, thin-gauge, flame-retardant plastic. It is UL94 rated V-0 at 1.0mm and 5VA at 2.5mm. Also, new is cost-effective acrylic alternative Tyril 905UV SAN resin.


Panasonic Corp., Light Diffusion PP Molding Compounds. Panasonic has developed a light diffusion type PP molding compound which reportedly can extend the operating life of LEDs. Key applications include automotive interior lighting, outdoor sign boards, store lighting, and water-related lighting, as well as digital signage.


Branded Full Bright PP, the compounds are said to be an industry first in that, in addition to injection molding, they are applicable to injection stretch blow molding, enabling processors to form complex shapes with greater freedom based on individual customer applications. The new compounds are said to allow for the production of 0.02-9n. (0.5-mm) molding, which was previously unachievable; achieve less than 10% thickness accuracy by processing; and, unlike the company’s previously used conventional PP molding compound, they will not generate a hole when a product is blown to 0.02-in thickness.


The Full Bright PP compounds are also said to have overcome the weak light resistance of the conventional PP molding compounds and achieved excellent resistance to chemicals, contributing to extending the operating life of the LED lighting. Its UV resistance is as follows: under an environment of 90 C+ (UV radiation intensity of 400W mercury lamp-30cm distance), discoloration after 90 days of exposure (about 2000 hrs). Its ∆E is 2.0 or below, which is equivalent to 10 years in outdoor environments; this compared to the company’s previous PP molding compound with a ∆E of 17. Finally, the PP compounds’ low specific gravity contributes to lightweight design of LED lighting devices.


Read Part I, LSR Developments in LEDs for Automotive and Street Lighting


Read Part II, Plastic Heat Sinks for LEDs “Shine” for Two Lighting Component Manufacturers


Search for more of Wacker’s LSR and Trinseo’s PC and SAN offerings in PT’s materials database

Plastic Heat Sinks for LEDs “Shine” for Two Lighting Component Manufacturers

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. May 2016

PolyOne’s Therma-Tech compounds prove their mettle replacing aluminum as an LED heat sink.


Here’s my second of a three-part installment to PT’s blog on interesting information that did not get into our upcoming June cover story: New Materials Shine Bright in Growing LED Market (read the first part on LED opportunities in automotive and street lighting). PolyOne, Cleveland, Ohio gets the space here with a focus on two case studies where its Therma-Tech thermally conductive formulations, which utilize proprietary additives and various engineering thermoplastics, proved a smart option for two European lighting manufacturers.


Savvy plastics suppliers who are leading in the LED materials arena have been striving to replace the traditional highly-conductive die-cast aluminum heat sinks in LED luminaires. This in addition to their advancements in other key LED areas such as lenses, optics, reflectors, housings and sockets. The metal heat sinks represent a substantial part of the cost of LED luminaires. Material suppliers believe that the use of plastic heat sinks would prove beneficial for the vast majority of LED luminaires, as they can reduce assembly costs , increase design freedom and consolidate parts. In the two PolyOne case studies, this certainly proved true.


Kruunutekniikka Oy of Finland, an injection molding contractor with expertise in lighting components, knew that it could provide manufacturers of heat-sensitive LED products with improved manufacturability and performance by producing non-metal heat sinks at scale. Company product engineers came up with specifications that called for thermal conductivity in plane from 4 to 21 W/m.K (in compliance with ASTM E1461; glow wire resistance of 850 C/0.8mm (IEC 606095-2-12); and enough dimensional stability to allow it to be overmolded directly on LED components. The next step: find the right material.


PolyOne Therma-Tech LED heat sink


Kruunutekniikka’ design engineering team collaborated with PolyOne in looking at potential options before developing a material that combined two grades of Therma-Tech thermal management compounds, both based on high-temperature nylons. The formulation was tested and phased into production, with the Kruunutekniikka Coolics brand quickly adopting the material throughout its line of customized LED cooling systems. The material added immediate benefits including: complex designs at lower costs than metal; lighter weight; inherent corrosion resistance; adaptability for ingress protection up to IP67; high-heat resistance; compliance with UL94-V0 flammability standards; and options for either electrically conductive or insulating properties.


The overall impact of this collaboration on Kruunutekniika included: a cost saving of more than 10%. Contributing factors: the Therma-Tech formulation required 37% less material due to its lower density; and substantial savings were realized during high-volume production thanks to a switch from die casting to injection molding, as well as elimination of secondary steps needed to achieve net shape with die casting. Startup times also were reduced. The company also cited that production scrap from the injection molding process can be fully recycled as part of an in-line process, helping it to meet its sustainability goals.


Mars Otomotiv, a Turkey-based maker of lighting for the global auto and transportation industries had built a good segment of its thriving business since 2004 around LED products. However up until a couple of years ago, they were sourcing their die-cast aluminum heat sinks from a sub-supplier, which required Mars to do secondary work, including removal of flash, drilling holes and surface treatment to prevent corrosion. Use of a supplier for the parts also led to unexpected costs and shipping delays, created logistics challenges and tied up stock and working capital.


Mars engineers collaborated with PolyOne to explore non-metal options. They eventually settled on Therma-Tech TT6600-5001EC, based on nylon 66 as the best choice to provide comparable heat dissipation. Still, they faced the significant hurdle for retooling costs. Mars owned the tooling used to form the metal heat sinks, and wanted to adapt the existing mold to accommodate the new material. Working with PolyOne’s technical team, Mars engineers were able to alter the mold so it could process the thermoplastic. They completed the metal-to-plastic transition in less than four months, bringing production in-house while essentially using the same tooling.


Today, Mars Otomotiv benefits from the simplified logistics of molding heat sinks in house, including reduced order lead time, improved on-time order completion and more working capital.  The thermal dissipative performance of the thermoplastic heat sink is equivalent to that of the aluminum, even the highest-power HB LED model, which provides 27 total watts in nine HB (high-brightness) LEDs. Specific gains include: 39% reduction in the weight of finished assemblies; 50% increase in the number of molded heat sinks produced each day; 20% reduction in the total cost to produce each heat sink, and elimination of secondary finishing operations.  


Look for more material developments for the LED lighting sector in  PT’s June issue, including PolyOne’s brand new premium light diffusing sheet UltraTuf LED (below), which can transmit between 80-90% of light while still effectively diffusing the LED points of light across the lens.

Search for more of PolyOne’s Therma-Tech materials in PT’s materials database.


PolyOne light-diffusing sheet UltraTuf LED

Look Mom, No Operator: AGVs Invade Chinaplas

18. May 2016

Automated guided vehicles (AGV) featured prominently at Chinaplas 2016 indicative of that country’s embrace of higher technologies and its need to offset ever-increasing labor costs.


Automation was everywhere at Chinaplas 2016, from robots on virtually every molding machine to a special automation zone to the word itself, printed repeatedly on official show signage, along with “innovation” and “green solutions”. Beyond a branding exercise or more rudimentary pick-and-place systems, however, two suppliers made unattended self-driven AGVs a prominent part of their show display.


AGVs are not new, with factories running unmanned forklifts along guidewires as early as the 1950s, but the concept and the need are relatively novel in China. Stanley Chu, chairman of Chinaplas organizer, Adsale, acknowledged his country’s burgeoning need for robotics at his pre-show press conference. Flanked by Ada Leung, Adsale’s general manager of sales and marketing, Chu took questions from a dais in front of a red back drop where “automation”, “innovation”, and “green solutions” were printed again and again in white, emphasizing the importance of robots even if he hadn’t.


“China will no longer be a low-production-cost country,” Chu said. “Production costs are going higher, labor costs are going higher, and the country faces all these restrictions on further economic growth. That’s why we have to focus more on automation and high technology and high productivity. We can’t just rely on the low cost of labor and the low cost of land.”


While still low compared to developed economies, China’s wages have increased dramatically over the last 15 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation costs in China’s manufacturing sector nearly tripled from 2002 and 2009, jumping from the dollar equivalent of $0.60/hr to about $1.70/hr, and rising more since then. The Conference Board estimated that China’s hourly compensation rate in dollars for manufacturing workers was $3.07 in 2012. According to the China Labour Bulletin, there has been near double-digit growth in the national average annual wage for urban employees since 2004, with it reaching 56,339 yuan in 2014 (around $9,000). 


China has already responded with world-leading investment in automation. In 2015, when global sales of industrial robots reached record levels for the third year in a row as they increased 8% to almost 240,000 units, China had highest demand, with sales of industrial robots there climbing 16%, according to International Federation of Robotics (IFR). The IFR report called China the main driver of growth, globally, for automation, with the country claiming 66,000 or nearly 30% of total global industrial robot sales.


Leung noted this investment but also said it needs to continue. “We talk about Industry 4.0, and a lot of people believe that China’s automation level is at 2.0,” Leung said. “We have to go to 3.0, which would be full automation, and then get to 4.0 which is smart automation.”


Smart Automation
At Chinaplas, “smart automation” was on hand at the booth of injection molding machine supplier Borche and auxiliary equipment supplier Shini. Both companies featured AGVs roaming their booths unattended, shuttling boxes meant to represent production output in a molding plant.


Shini showcased its SCIG (collective storage system) paired with an AGV. The display was meant as a mockup of delivering products from the molding machine to the warehouse, with a Shini high-speed ST3-900-1600HT pulling parts from a static press and stacking them on the SCIG. The SCIG then collected full pallets and conveyed them to the AGV, which after receiving them, transported the pallets to a faux warehouse, according to Grace Lee, of Shini’s automation business department. At this time, Lee said Shini doesn’t have any of the full systems installed but said the show and the display had generated “many inquiries.”


For its part, Borche mocked up a similar display, with an AGV moving between molding machines in live production. Automation is an accepted reality wherever you’re located. In Plastics Technology’s 2015 World-Class Processor survey (you can take the 2016 survey here), 77% of our top performers reported using automation of some sort, with fully 100% using sprue pickers. As work that once came to China from the west now leaves its borders for lower-cost locales in Southeast Asia, expect to see continued investments in automation in China. 


Reunion Party Celebrates World’s First Thermoformer

By: Matthew H. Naitove 18. May 2016

In one room, several centuries of experience at the granddaddy of all thermoformers.


It’s not every day that a reporter gets invited to someone else’s family reunion. In this case, the “family” was about 50 former employees of Plastofilm Industries, reputed to be the world’s first thermoforming company—perhaps even the inventor of the process—and by far the largest in its time, if not still today.

The gathering, held at the Herrington Inn & Spa in Geneva, Ill., in April, was planned over two years by an informal committee of six Plastofilm “alumni,” but the driving force was Tony Beyer, who started there as a toolmaker in 1973 and worked his way up to plant manager before he left in 1991 to start his own thermoforming company, Tek Pak, in Batavia, Ill. The attendees included fathers and sons, husbands and wives, who had worked together at Plastofilm before its demise in 2008. Together, they represented several centuries of thermoforming experience, which later seeded a score of other thermoforming machinery, tooling, and processing companies, some of them founded by the Plastofilm extended family.


Plastofilm was started in 1941 by George Wiss (pictured below), an engineer who emigrated from Hungary in 1939. He started out with a contract from the U.S. Army to wash out and recover the silver oxide from sheets of photographic film of bombing missions during World War II. He was left with a pile of clear cellulose acetate butyrate sheets to discard and wondered if they could be reused in some way. That reportedly led to the invention of the first vacuum forming machine and process (Wiss was co-author of a patent). The first application was boxes to hold corsages for big bands like Glenn Miller’s that played on Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Based in Wheaton, Ill., Plastofilm started up its first thermoforming production line in 1957 and then the first high-speed, inline continuous forming machine (reputedly another original invention) in 1959. Plastofilm started its own sheet extrusion in 1966. By 1996, the firm had grown to five plants on three continents, 550 employees, and $280 million in annual revenue. Two of its biggest “firsts” were pioneering medical thermoforming in the 1960s and continuous forming of carrier tapes for automated assembly of electronics in 1981. But after Wiss retired, the firm was sold and resold to a succession of buyers, until its business dwindled away and the remaining equipment was sold off—much of it to Tek Pak.


The theme of the party was “Getting the band back together,” enlivened by the beat of The Blues Brothers Revue. The choice of bandwas not accidental: As Beyer explained it, John Belushi (one of the original Blues Brothers musical duo with Dan Akroyd) was a native of Wheaton, Ill., and worked at Plastofilm briefly one summer, because his mother was employed there.


There were other intriguing details to be learned at the party. For example, Beyer worked as a toolmaker on packaging trays for early products from Apple Computer. One of Plastofilm’s salesmen worked together with Apple founder Steve Jobs on those projects. Another Plastofilm salesman worked with Bill Gates on thermoformed packaging when Microsoft had fewer than 50 people, Beyer recalled at the reunion party. “Lots of neat stories from those Plastofilm days,” he said.


For more on the Plastofilm reunion, look for my Close Up article in the June issue of Plastics Technology.

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