Machine-Hour Rates Report Awaits Your Participation

By: Matthew H. Naitove 20. August 2014

We’re getting close, but still not there yet. Maybe it’s due to summer vacations, but more custom injection molders still need to provide data (anonymously) on their midyear machine-hour rates before our next survey can be published. I know from your emails that you find our survey report—broken down by machine size and region of the country—valuable and unique (it’s available nowhere else). But you have to give something to get something. So go online now and take five minutes to fill out the survey here. If we hear from enough of you in the next week or so, we’ll be able to get the report out on time in October.



Single-Serve Wine Spritzer in Plasma-Coated PET

By: Matthew H. Naitove 19. August 2014

When it comes to barrier containers, the smaller the package volume, the greater the relative surface area and the more challenging it is to achieve barrier protection. A case in point is a new 330-ml PET screw-top bottle for wine spritzers, which must retain carbonation to preserve the “spritz” as well as prevent oxygen ingress that would spoil the wine.


That was the challenge facing Amcor Rigid Plastics, Ann Arbor, Mich., in designing the bottle for Andrew Peller Ltd., Grimsby, Ont., a Canadian wine producer and marketer. Its wines are made from grapes grown in Ontario, British Columbia, and around the world. Its new skinnygrape line of ready-to-drink wine coolers are low-calorie drinks aimed largely at women. That factor determined the slender, comfortable shape of the custom PET bottles. Barrier properties are afforded by an ultrathin <100 nm) silicon oxide (SiOx) plasma coating applied to the inside of the bottle, which is clear, resistant to cracking and delamination, and does not degrade over time. This glass coating is applied using technology from KHS Plasmax GmbH in Germany (U.S. office in Waukesha, Wis.).

Custom Molding Hourly Rates—It’s Up to You Now

By: Matthew H. Naitove 6. August 2014

Are you as eager as I am to see average machine-hour rates for custom injection molding, broken out by machine size, region of the country, and with or without operator or profit included? I hope to get the results from our midyear survey of custom molders in print and online by October—but there’s a catch. We need your data. We still need more custom molders to fill out the online questionnaire here, in order to get representative results. The survey is anonymous, and thus 100% confidential.


I get messages regularly from molders telling me how useful the survey results are (see an example here). I hope all of them took 5 minutes to answer a few questions. If you haven’t done so yet—you know who are—get it done this week. I don’t want to have to delay publication, but I can’t issue a report without enough data to be confident it’s meaningful. So it’s up to you!


And many thanks to all of you have responded—you have contributed to make possible a unique resource for molders.

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.

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