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Plastics Technology’s Most-Viewed Articles of 2015

By: Tony Deligio 6. January 2016

From how to’s to best methods to troubleshooting, the most-viewed articles on Plastics Technology in 2015 are typified by timeless technical advice and insights.

 

Injection molding, extrusion, materials and auxiliaries articles were among the most-viewed at Plastics Technology in 2015, with a deep dive into impact testing by Senior Editor Lilli Manolis Sherman at No. 1.

 

On the materials front, articles on plastics that conduct heat and thermoplastic polyesters continued to be popular with our readers, while others sought out practical knowledge for injection molding, including molding undercuts, stopping flash, reducing sinks and better knowing mold coatings.

 

In extrusion, readers continued to open stories on troubleshooting melt fracture and understanding the causes for gels in films. Rounding out our top 10, a review of the six things processors should know about eco-friendly chillers from Executive Editor Matt Naitove. Check them all out below:

 

  1. IMPACT: Which Test to Use? Which Instrument to Buy?
  2. Plastics That Conduct Heat
  3. Thermoplastic Polyesters: It's a Good Time to Know Them Better
  4. Best Methods of Molding Undercuts
  5. How to Stop Flash
  6. Six Things You Should Know About New Eco-Friendly Chillers
  7. Know Your Mold Coatings
  8. Extrusion Troubleshooter
  9. How to Reduce Sinks
  10. What's Causing Your Gels?

 

injection molding tool with undercut

Plastics Technology’s Most-Viewed Columns of 2015

By: Tony Deligio 6. January 2016

Materials, and the effects temperature and pressure have on them, are fundamental to plastics processing, and no where is that more clear than in Plastics Technology’s most-viewed columns of 2015.

 

Mike Sepe and John Bozzelli are respected authors, educators and experts in their respective fields and, as such, it’s no surprise that their columns occupy all top 10 spots for most-viewed columns in 2015.

 

Sepe’s insights into overall process temperatures, including those of the melt and the tool, and Bozzelli’s shared knowledge of fundamental molding questions like calculating shot size and understanding pressure loss, are sought after again and again.

 

Need a refresher? Take some time to review all these articles and improve your processing today.

 

  1. The Importance of Melt & Mold Temperature
  2. The Effects of Temperature
  3. PBT and PET Polyester: The Difference Crystallinity Makes
  4. Calculate Shot Size Vs. Barrel Capacity
  5. Injection Molding: How to Set Second-Stage (Pack & Hold) Pressure
  6. The Strain Rate Effect
  7. Density & Molecular Weight in Polyethylene
  8. When It Comes to Nylon, Don’t Do the Math
  9. Injection Molding: You Must Dry Hygroscopic Resins
  10. Injection Molding: Understanding Pressure Loss In Injection Molding

 

Happy Birthday to the Reciprocating Screw!

By: Tony Deligio 5. January 2016

As Plastics Technology finalized the agenda for the 26th edition of the Molding Conference and opens registration for the event dedicated to all things molding, it’s clear that while the primary components in today’s machine are largely the same, the process continues to evolve.

 

When William H. Willert of Clinton N.J. was granted the patent for his “injection molding apparatus”on Feb. 14, 1956, injection molding was at the vanguard of a manufacturing revolution as all manner of products were reimagined in plastics. Today, plastics continue to supplant traditional materials but new processing technologies, including additive manufacturing, pose both a threat and an opportunity to injection molding.

 

From a business standpoint, challenges to today’s molders include operating as efficiently as possible to beat back competition from low-cost countries, with automation playing a key role to both increase efficiency and overcome a shortage of skilled workers.

 

Additive manufacturing, automation, and process efficiency, including establishing and maintaining a robust process, are just some of the topics we’ll be addressing at Molding 2016, featuring speakers from OEMs, injection molders, mold makers, machine manufacturers, auxiliary suppliers, materials companies and more.

 

If you think there’s nothing new under the sun in injection molding, I’d encourage you to come to New Orleans this March and judge for yourself. I believe Willert would be pleasantly surprised by all the different directions his reimagined plasticator, and the industry it propelled, has gone. 

H.W. Willert reciprocating screw patent

Benchmarking Your Way to Better Operations

By: Tony Deligio 16. December 2015

Steve Simmons can say with certainty that vacuum-pump failure is a significant contributor to unscheduled downtime at custom sheet manufacturer Highland Plastics Inc., Shepherd, Mich. Simmons, Highland’s president, can also tell you exactly where, when and with whom most of the restrictor bar bolt breakage occurs at his plant, and on any given day, he can tell you where production lagged over the last 24 hours.

 

How? Simmons and Highland Plastics measure all manner of things at their facility, giving the company insights into how operations are faring and pinpointing exactly where issues exist. Highland Plastics is among Plastics Technology’s inaugural class of World-Class Processors, which will be highlighted in the January 2016 issue of Plastics Technology magazine. The group of 25 were pooled from across the industry, varying in size, process, location and output. What they all have in common is meticulous measurement of how pellets are converted in their plants.

 

I asked Simmons how benchmarking has helped his company and he immediately provided examples:

 

Restrictor bar breakage: This was identified as a key cause of down time, so Simmons decided to start taking note of the circumstances around its occurrence.

 

“We tracked restrictor bar bolt breakage by line, shift and operator, and identified where and when most of the breakage was occurring. We then trained all the operators, changed their tools and ultimately revised the procedural methods used to operate the dies.

 

Vacuum-pump failure: After investigating unscheduled machine downtime by cause, vacuum pumps came under greater scrutiny.

 

“We identified vacuum pump failure as a significant contributor to unscheduled production downtime and assigned a single individual vacuum-pump maintenance responsibility to rebuild and maintain all vacuum pumps. Previously the responsibility for vacuum pump maintenance had been diffused across five individuals.”

 

All these insights come operations data that are culled daily at Highland. “We compile a daily shift summary report of substandard operational elements gleaned from 12 shift-production reports produced over the preceding 24 hours,” Simmons says. “This summary report enables us to identify production deficiency trends, and address them, often before they manifest themselves in unscheduled production downtime.”

 

Seems like Highland has a handle on things. Look for the January issue to learn more about the World-Class Processor program and sign up your company (you can email me) to participate in our next survey to better know your operations and see how they stack up. 

In Praise of “Job Shops”

By: Tony Deligio 9. December 2015

“I hate that term—job shop,” admits Craig Porter, president of custom injection molding PlastiCert, Lewiston, Minn. I spoke with Porter over the course of an interview for an upcoming feature in our January issue highlighting Plastics Technology’s inaugural World-Class Processor survey. PlastiCert made the cut, finishing in the top 20% of entrants based on 11 different metrics, and Porter credits the company’s “job-shop” mentality as a key reason.

 

“We do production runs,” Porter says. “We do a lot of them.” How many? Porter figures they had around 775 work orders in 2014 with an average quantity build of only 3000 pieces. “We’ve done some much smaller than that even,” Porter recalls. Of the roughly 50 different customers his company served in 2014, Porter says only two provided him a forecast to help predict their demand. Everyone else?

 

“The rest all just call up when they need some parts and say, ‘Hey, how soon can I get them?’” Porter says. That means mold changes—lots of them—and a very specialized skill set. “Well we think [being a job shop] is an expertise,” Porter says. “We look it at as a selling point. We are set-up pros—we are experts at taking molds in and out and getting jobs up and going and making parts.”

 

Porter says customers appreciate that agility, whether they think of PlastiCert as a job shop or not. “We’re able to jockey things around and work with due dates, and get things in,” Porter says. “If we have a customer that calls up and says, ‘Hey I need parts now.’ We can probably figure out how to accommodate them.” 




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