Let’s Talk: For Injection Molders Only

By: Matthew H. Naitove 29. July 2014

It’s time to submit your abstracts for presentations at the Molding 2015 Conference, to be held next June 16-18 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. Organized by Plastics Technology magazine, it’s a great opportunity for injection molders to talk to each other about important issues in their industry today and to hear about new technologies from suppliers of machinery, molds, software, and materials.


The annual Molding Conference, started by conference chairman Amos Golovoy, is a unique event because its program is organized by a volunteer committee of molders, moldmakers, suppliers of machinery, mold, and materials, and the plastics trade press (me). That’s what makes its content relevant and important for its audience. Over two and half days, it will present around 25 speakers, with plenty of time for informal conversation and visits to the exhibit area.


One of the strengths of the plastics industry has always been that its members talk to each other and share ideas and concerns. So if you have an idea for a 30-minute talk about emerging technologies, sustainable manufacturing, medical or electronics molding, LSR molding, and adding value through automation, assembly, or packaging—or anything else you feel an urge to discuss with other molders, visit the Conference home page and clink the link for the “Online call for papers.” Type in a 200-300 word abstract of your talk and click the email link—that’s all there is to it. Your abstract will be reviewed by the conference committee, whose members are listed on the conference home page.


By the way, Molding 2015 will be co-located with the amerimold 2015 show and conference, presented by our sister magazine, MoldMaking Technology.


Deadline for abstracts is October 17. Let’s hear from you!

Safety Guidance Coming for ‘Collaborative’ Robots

By: Matthew H. Naitove 28. July 2014

So-called “collaborative” robots are designed to work safely alongside humans without requiring isolation behind a safety cage. Perhaps the best-known example is the Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics, Boston. For safety, it incorporates 360° sonar and front-facing vision system to detect human presence and perform its tasks. It can “see” in 3D, sensing height and distance. And its “servo-elastic” control prevents harmful collisions: If one of its two arms meets resistance force of less than 1 lb, it will stop, and then continue on its path once the resistance is removed (for more details, see Nov. ’13 Close Up).

The Baxter robot at the Rodon Group.

In order to ensure safe operation of all such devices, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), Ann Arbor, Mich., is working with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) committee for Industrial Robot Safety in developing Technical Specification TS 15066 for guidance on safe deployment of collaborative robots. (It will expand on the brief discussion in ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012, Parts 1 & 2.) A key provision of TS 15066 will be threshold power and force values and guidance for situations where contact between humans and collaborative robots can occur. Still a work in progress, the final specification is expected to be published late this year or in early 2015. In the meantime, The German machinery manufacturers’ organization VDMA has prepared a position paper, “Safety in Human-Robot Collaboration,” that summarizes the relevant ISO standards and other related guidance on collaborative robots. The PDF is available here.

Vero Software Has New Owner

By: Matthew H. Naitove 24. July 2014

Hexagon AB of Sweden, a supplier of design, measurement, and visualization technologies, has purchased Vero Software of the U.K., a supplier of CAD/CAM/CAE software (U.S. office in Wixom, Mich.). Vero is known for its Visi software suite, which includes integrated mold analysis. Hexagon also owns the Intergraph and CADWorx brands.

Are Cartons Or Pouches Serious Contenders For PET Water Bottles?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. July 2014

Is water packaging like milk carton-like boxes or for that matter stand-up pouches likely to pose a threat to PET bottles?


Michigan-based Boxed Water is Better, the originator of the carton water packaging, has expanded its reach since its inception in 2009, to 14 states plus Canada and Australia, with 56 distributors and over 6000 stores in the U.S. It is also generating large revenue by supplying boxed water to music festivals such as Lollapalooza in Chicago. The company says it “recyclable” cartons are made of 76% renewable resource, and that the trees used to make their boxes come from certified, well-managed forests. It also ships its boxes flat to its filler which is significantly more efficient compared to shipping empty plastic or glass bottles.


I asked John Maddox, president of SBA-CCI consultancy and a 34-year PET expert to give us his take. “I’ve drunk water from these containers (at an undisclosed paper container supplier). It is absolutely deplorable! The PE liner taste made it undrinkable…so, on taste alone, it will be a loser.” He also sees total life cycle a problem noting that mixed materials pose major hurdles on recycling and that, without recycling, the whole life cycle analysis falls apart.  On a positive note, shipping and shelf cube are good and graphics are awesome, he says.


One my colleagues remarked that he dislikes gable-top cardboard “boxes”, noting how unpleasant they are to open and that they appear low-class compared with a PET bottle, especially the newer ones with a wide mouth and a giant cap. Personally, I doubt I would ever want to jog or go to the gym carrying boxed water though I might think of it as an option for my disaster preparedness kit.


Another colleague says he can see water going to stand-up pouches, noting, “With how flimsy PET bottles are now, we’re practically there.”  Maddox concedes that stand-up pouches, which he says often don’t stand, are really hot right now.  He says that for lunch boxes and hiking trips, they might be a good alternative but sees taste still being an issue, unless the inner layer is a PET coating.


He also emphasizes the attractive feature of resealability on a water bottle versus pouches which he says don’t deliver a very attractive resealable closure. “If they do, then the cost is up and then you have the option of a very flimsy PET bottle with a cap. In fact, I squeeze down my partially consumed PET water bottles. They do not roll away, they take up less space, and squeezing them helps dispense the contents. When empty, I squeeze them all the way flat, replace the cap so they stay that way and contribute to smaller volumes going into recycle bins, recycling transportation, or perhaps even a landfill. So, why make a ‘stand-up’ pouche for water? We already have them…a 9-gram PET bottle!”


Please don’t hesitate to let us know your take on this! 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

Want a Look at Custom Injection Hourly Rates?

By: Matthew H. Naitove 23. July 2014

We’re just waiting for your response to begin calculating average machine-hour rates at midyear for various machine sizes and sections of the country. Apparently, some of you need reminding that a survey is not worth reporting unless it is based on enough data points to make it credible. The midyear report still needs more of you to take 5 minutes to fill out the survey here.


If you haven’t looked at our twice-yearly hourly rates survey, see the latest results (for fourth-quarter 2013) here. See why so many custom molders tell me they find it valuable—apart from the fact that this is the only source of such data. So click over to the confidential survey and enter your data—anonymously!

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