So How Fast Can You Change a Mold?

By: Jim Callari 13. May 2016

A contest next month at a U.K. trade show will crown one molder king of the quick-change artists.


My colleague Tony Deligio has blogged a bit recently about benchmarking and our 2016 World Class Processors survey (click here to participate). And now, if you’re really good at one key metric you might even win a prize.


Molders from across the U.K. are set to compete for “best in class” honors in mold changing during the PDM Event, a plastics industry trade show scheduled for June 14-15 at the Telford International Center in the U.K.


Ever been to a NASCAR race and see a pit crew in action? Well, at the show contestants will have 60 minutes in The Quick Mold Change Competition to change a mold correctly, safely and as quickly as possible on an Engel press. RJG Technologies, who along with Engel U.K. is sponsoring the contest, will judge.


Molders are invited to enter a team of two technicians for the competition. Entrants will compete to be the fastest to complete the tool change under the judges’ scrutiny to ensure safe working methods. The final installation will be inspected to ensure correct installation including mold operation, set up of water pipes, clamp positioning and torque settings. Judges will also check that the tool is demounted correctly and the work area left tidy.


The team that wins the challenge will receive a trophy as well as two £200 (about $227) vouchers from Amazon.


“Fast tool change in production can increase both injection mold availability and safety levels during mold changeover,” says Richard Brown, RJG managing director. “The Quick Mold Change Competition at the PDM Event 2016 is a great opportunity for mold technicians to prove their skills against the clock to find the fastest and safest tool change team within the industry.”


Adds Graeme Herlihy, managing director, Engel UK, “(We are) delighted to be supporting the PDM Quick Mold Competition by providing one of our machines for molders to use at the show. Our tie-bar-less design will certainly make it easier for competitors to carry out a mold change quickly, safely and accurately. It will also be an effective showcase for our flexible, cost effective and highly energy efficient machines.”

(Photo: Large mold running in a tiebarless Engel machine)

Read And Watch Plastics Technology

By: Tony Deligio 11. May 2016

Plastics Technology YouTube

If a picture is worth 1000 words, how much is a video worth?


One of the favorite aspects of my job also presents one of the biggest challenges. I’m often lucky enough to see the latest plastics processing technology first hand—at shows, in our readers’ plants, etc.—and in the past, my task was to sum up some pretty complicated manufacturing processes using only static pictures and words. I worked to do so in a manner that at the very least made sense and on good days hopefully engaged readers.


At Plastics Technology, my colleagues and I still face the challenge of sharing with our readers what we see and hear, but in addition to pictures and words, we have a new storytelling tool: video. Our efforts here are just beginning, but more and more, you can expect to not only read Plastics Technology but watch it too.


As we begin this process, we have set up YouTube channel that you can subscribe to and be alerted whenever we post a new video. This week, two videos were added by my colleague Heather Caliendo who was on hand to film the landing of the Solar Impulse 2 plane in Arizona and chat with one of the pilots about the role plastics play in the revolutionary plane. If you couldn’t make it to Phoenix Goodyear Airport on the evening of May 2, Heather has you covered.


In addition to our own videos, we can use the channel to share relative useful content from the industry (an example being this taped breakdown of Guill Tools’ Bullet II die). If you have video you think would be of interest, send it our way. Also be sure to check out our sister publication, Plastics Technology México’s channel, as well as fellow Gardner Business Media Sites CompositesWorld, MoldMaking Technology, and Modern Machine Shop.

Thanks and make sure to tune in to Plastics Technology today!

Polymers On Board Round-the-World Solar Flight

By: Heather Caliendo 11. May 2016

Solar Impulse 2


Plastics Technology was on the scene when the pioneering solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 landed in Phoenix, Ariz. on May 2.


For Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the word “impossible” isn’t part of their vocabulary. The two pioneers are currently in the midst of their bid to travel around the world in a solar airplane that is capable of flying day and night without fuel. I was there when the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) landed in Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Ariz., with Borschberg at the controls, on May 2 at 8:55 pm.


With a wing span greater than a Boeing 747, the weight of a family car, and the engine power of a small motorcycle, the Si2 is reportedly the largest aircraft ever built with such a low weight. The use of polymers was crucial in producing a lightweight plane and prior to the landing in Phoenix, I talked with Richard Northcote, Chief Sustainability Officer at materials supplier Covestro, and learned more about the company’s involvement with the Si2.


“It’s all about reducing energy consumption,” Northcote, pictured said. “When you think about the plane, with a wing span greater than a 747, if it’s not light, it’s never going to get off the ground. And when it gets off the ground, it’s impressive how quickly it does because it’s so light.”


Covestro was responsible for the design and construction of the Si2 cockpit, where polyurethane foam encapsulates the cockpit, helping keep the pilot comfortable in extreme temperatures. Covestro found a way to decrease the size of the pores in the insulation foam by 40% from previously existing materials, fulfilling both the pilot’s needs and Si2’s weight constraints. In addition, the company’s multi-layer polycarbonate windscreen provides scratch-resistant, glass-like performance and thermal insulation at a fraction of the weight of glass.


“I’m delighted to to say that virtually all our product offerings are on the plane, which is absolutely fantastic—the cockpit is polyurethane foam and the great thing about that is you get the insulation property and strength from polyurethane,” Northcote said. “We produced a wind screen for the plane that is polycarbonate so instead of using glass what we manage to do is to match the visual quality of glass but, again, reduce weight significantly over what glass would be.”


Technology developed for Solar Impulse is already used in various every day products in the automotive and refrigeration sectors. In addition, coatings used on the plane are now also being used in many other industrial sector applications.


Prior to the landing, Piccard, initiator and chairman of Si2, talked about the importance of using lightweight materials. Check out the video below:



And here’s the video of the Si2 landing in Phoenix – as the plane approached it was very quiet and then suddenly there’s a light “whoosh” sound. 



Once weather permits, Piccard will pilot the Si2 to the next stop-over and continue crossing of U.S. 

Machine Guards Get in Your Way?

By: Matthew H. Naitove 10. May 2016


Easier access to the point where a robot deposits parts on a conveyor—that’s what Carl Morris, president and founder of Itech in Arden, N.C., is looking for.


At his new plant expansion at the Itech South facility in Westminster, S.C., he will replace “hard” metal-screen guarding around the robot drop point with vision cameras that will detect when a human enters the safety zone and halt the robot. That way, there’s no delay to open up the guarding if an operator or technician needs to get to that location. This is just one element of his plans for increased automation at Itech and Itech South.


For more on the latest doings at Itech South, see my On-Site feature in the upcoming June issue.

Carl Morris, Itech, Arden, N.C.

Chinese Manufacturers of XPS Boards ‘Under Fire’

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. May 2016

Banned fluorinated blowing agents and highly toxic flame retardants found in Chinese imports.


Joe Webster, president of consulting firm Stabilization Technologies, a long-time industry friend and well-known technical expert in plastics additives, alerted me to “Chinese Boards Fail Further Tests”, a recent news item that appeared in UK’s Builders Merchants Journal.


It appears that the investigation on imported XPS cored tilebacker boards began in March, when three global leading brands provided test information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the chemicals incorporated in Chinese XPS boards. The brands are Germany’s Wedi (U.S. headquarters in Carol Stream, Ill.) and Jackoboard (sold in North America by Schluter Systems, Plattsburgh, N.Y.), and New Zealand’s Marmox (sold through distributors in U.S., Europe, and Australia).


That information showed that the imported boards contained fluorinated blowing agents (e.g., CFCs, HCFCs) banned in Europe and North America due to their harmful effects on the environment. Moreover, the tested boards also incorporated a highly toxic flame retardant at quantities also banned in Europe.


After extensive reporting of these test result, one Chinese manufacturer produced a copy of a test report that purportedly showed that their products were free from the banned chemicals.


But, Wedi, Jackoboard, and Marmox aimed to remove all doubts and submitted further samples of the imported boards to two leading independent European testing laboratories. The new results compounded the earlier findings that the imported XPS boards contained blowing agent gases which have been banned for fourteen years plus four times the permitted level of a toxic flame retardant.


Due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of this investigation, brand names of boards “under fire” have yet to be named. 


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