Tiebarless Training in Tennessee

By: Tony Deligio 24. April 2015

The 85-ton tiebarless Engel victory spex and 110-ton all-electric machines were installed at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Pulaski as part of its revamped Advanced Manufacturing Program that’s busy readying workers for the region’s booming automotive sector.


GM, Nissan, and Volkswagen all build cars in the state, supported by parts suppliers like Denso, Calsonic Kansei, Yorozu Automotive, and M-Tek, with more companies on the way.


In the first quarter alone, Denso, Unipres USA Inc., Nissan, Magneti Marelli, and Hicks Plastics announced  investments in the state, which according to the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA), employs 115,939 in auto manufacturing jobs with more than 1000 auto manufacturers and suppliers statewide.


To help those companies fill out their shifts, Tennessee has spent more than $80 million in automotive industry training since 2006, according to TAMA. Receiving a portion of that money is the TCAT Pulaski. Located in South Central Tennessee, Pulaski sits 75 miles south of Nashville and only 20 miles from the Alabama border.


TCAT Pulaski is one of 26 applied technology centers in Tennessee, part of a statewide system created in 1963. The centers’ Advanced Manufacturing Education offers students three career paths: robotics automation, PLC automation, and plastics injection molding, and students that complete the program are awarded an engineering technician diploma. The plastics engineering technician certificate is comprised of three labs and an internship/shop project totaling 1296 hours.


Dino Owen, Advanced Manufacturing Education (AME) Instructor at TCAT Pulaski, told Plastics Technology that the two new Engel’s will replace a hydraulic Nissei that had been used in training for 12 years. Owen said at this time there are 17 students in the AME program, with 10 of those on the injection molding track.


A recent lesson for those 10: molding machine installation. Owen said the students assisted in rigging, leveling, and wiring the machines for their initial start up. The 85-ton press, which was purchased, and the 110-ton machine, which is on loan, will now ready those students for the molding world around them.


“Thanks to the governor’s grant we received, our equipment was updated and technology advanced to meet employment needs of local business,” Owen said. “Students feel they are working with state-of-the-art equipment, which closely matches equipment used by growing companies within 100-mile radius.”


Owen said that all students must complete hands-on projects focusing on areas like injection speed, transfer, pressure, temperature, and cycle optimization. In addition, students working towards the Injection Molding Masters Diploma, also study tool and die technology, including practice building insert molds, with draft angles, vents, waterlines, part design, and more taught as they cut their molds.


Owen said in the program students build their molds in aluminum, with a recent project calling for 3D printing of a simple cavity. “Our record thus far is 20 parts from a plastic 3D-printed cavity,” Owen said.


Partnering on behalf of plastics training isn’t new for Engel, which over the last three years has also set up machines at Bradley University (2013: 30-ton hybrid e-victory), Clemson University (2014: 30-ton victory); and Nypro University (2015: 105-ton e-mac). Its efforts, and those of programs like TCAT, come at a time of need for the U.S. plastics industry.


“Our goal is to help bridge the skills gap that manufacturing is experiencing,” Owen said. “I feel the 27 TCATs’ statewide are the best match for student and business to achieve this goal.”

New Design Standards Present Challenge, Opportunities for Connector Molders

By: Tony Deligio 20. April 2015

The tubes and catheters that carry oxygen, medication, nutrients, and fluids to hospital patients had been connected to delivery systems via universally designed small-bore Luer connectors, with that standardization occasionally leading to misconnections and subsequently, patient injury or death.


In response, an international collection of clinicians, manufacturers, and regulators, including the FDA, worked with the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) to develop ISO 80369 standards that govern the redesign of small-bore (inner diameter of less than 8.5 mm) connectors, with one goal, according to the Global Enteral Device Supplier Association (GEDSA): “make it difficult, if not impossible, for unrelated delivery systems to be connected.”


GEDSA launched its Stay Connected initiative to support the changeover, calling the new connectors ENFit to differentiate them from the traditional luer connectors. Feeding tubes with the ENFit connector are projected to be available in the second quarter of 2015.  


The new connector design standards will initially apply to liquids and gases in healthcare applications. Eventually they will dictate connector size and shape for breathing systems and driving gases, enteral, limb cuff inflation, neuraxial, and intravascular-hypodermic applications. Once the standards are completed, luer connector will only be used for intravascular and hypodermic applications. All other small-bore connector delivery systems will be changed to ensure they can’t be misconnected to luers.


Proactively Switching Resins
German injection molder and mold maker A. Hopf Gmbh, Zirndorf, recently announced the development of newly designed enteral connectors utilizing Tritan copolyester from Eastman, Kingsport, Tenn., to proactively satisfy the ISO/DIS 2 80369-3 requirements. The company noted that the application of copolyester, versus PC, also satisfies French legislation banning BPA in food-contact materials for children, passed in 2013. That ban expanded to cover all such applications in January 2015.


At the MD&M West show in Anaheim, Calif. this February, Eastman discussed the new regulations in the small-bore connector market and how they’re impacting connecter molders and their material suppliers.


In the past, the use of flexible materials—like PVC, TPE, and TPU—in connectors, could allow a healthcare worker to “force” the connectors together, creating the potential for error. As part of the new design standard, materials must be stiff, with a flexural modulus above 700 MPa. In this space, Tritan will compete with materials including PC, ABS and PMMA. Eastman said that in addition to moldability and toughness, Tritan also maintains clarity, color and functional integrity after ethylene oxide and gamma sterilization.


In a July 2014 letter to its customers, medical device supplier Covidien, which is a charter member of GEDSA, noted that new enteral feeding tubes with ENFit connector would be available in April 2015, with the transition to the new ISO standard connectors completed in January 2016. 

Without Data All You Have Is An Opinion

By: Tony Deligio 15. April 2015

If you’re a plastics processor on the fence about taking the free, anonymous benchmarking survey we’re launching in 2015, I’d encourage you check out the executive summary of the Top Shops survey from our sister publication, Modern Machine Shop, to get a sense of the type of information you can expect to receive.


Survey participants, of course, will get the complete report, not just the executive summary, which will be chock full of data that can not only give you a better perspective on your own plant’s performance, but also help you assess where the industry’s headed (and if you’ll be joining it).


Most plastics processors have seen the light when it comes to tracking their operations, gathering data on all sorts of manufacturing metrics. This has given them much more than an opinion about their own facility, but by completing the survey you can move past ‘opinion’ when it comes to your competitors and get into the facts of how well you stack up.


Take the survey today

Auxiliaries: A New Frontier in Metal Replacement

By: Tony Deligio 15. April 2015

For at least two auxiliary suppliers at NPE2015, the answer was yes. Novatec and the ACS Group both featured new products in their booths outfitted with rotomolded plastics.


In the case of Novatec, its Bessemer Series of downstream extrusion cooling and sizing tanks converted to rotomolded plastic (pictured below). Conrad Bessemer, company president, noted that the rotomolded tanks don’t just allow for faster delivery, but compared to metal they can provide better insulation and aren’t as susceptible to condensation.


James Holbrook, president of the ACS Group, discussed his company’s new rotomolded plastic pump tank, which ranges up to 1000 gallons, and opened his eyes to more plastic-for-metal opportunities.


“Look around the show floor,” Holbrook said at NPE2015. “It’s a plastics industry event but you see a ton of steel. Let’s at least ask where we can use plastics.” Plastics is of course lighter weight and lower cost than steel, but as is the case in many material conversion stories, just because plastics make more sense, doesn’t mean they’ll be applied.


“The reason so much has been steel historically, is that people haven’t looked at other materials,” Holbrook said. “There are applications that still need steel, applications where steel makes sense, but we still want to explore plastics.” 

Is Your Plant World Class?

By: Tony Deligio 18. March 2015

Successful plastics processors rigorously track the efficiency of their operations—including every operator, machine, and shift—down to the pellet. These data become performance tracking metrics, giving that plant visibility into its own operations, but what about transparency across the entire plastics processing industry?


This Spring, Plastics Technology is launching a comprehensive 100% anonymous pan-plastics benchmarking effort called World Class Processors that will allow participants to just how good their “good” really is.


By completing this survey, participants will be entitled to receive a detailed report aggregating the performance statistics and profile characteristics of all the survey participants (for a sample of the kind of data you'll be entitled to if you participate, click here to see the executive summary of a similar program from Plastics Technology's sister publication, Modern Machine Shop). 


Companies can also choose to enter the inaugural Best Practices in Plastics competition, which will recognize companies with the highest performance in select categories. Companies that elect to participate and win will be featured in future issues of Plastics Technology magazine.


Learn more about the program here, or, click here to participate today.  

If you're attending NPE2015 in Orlando, stop by our booth in the West Hall (W-2602) to learn more about the program. 

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