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. 

Add Plastics Technology to Your NPE2015 Must-See List

By: Tony Deligio 11. March 2015

Plastics Technology’s show plans, albeit on a smaller scale, are no less plastic packed, as noted by our editorial director, Jim Callari, here. As the show approaches, and you sketch out your must-see list, make sure we’re on there. Our booth will be just off the main entrance of the Orange County Convention Center’s West Hall (2602) and if you need another landmark, we’re across the aisle from Milacron’s massive stand.


Know How In the Flesh
Every month, Plastics Technology features columns from leading experts in the fields of materials, injection molding, extrusion and more. In Orlando, many of those columnists, including folks like John Bozzelli, Mike Sepe, and Jim Frankland, will offer live presentations. In addition, experts on topics as varied as reshoring and additive manufacturing will be speaking in person on the biggest topics of the day (full schedule):


Monday, March 23

3:00-3:45 pm: How to Calculate Shot Size vs Barrel Capacity

John Bozzelli, Injection Molding Solutions, Scientific Molding


Tuesday, March 24

10:30-11:15 am: The Importance of Gate Geometry

Randy Kerkstra, Nanoplas Coating

3:00-3:45 am: Drying PET for Rigid Container Applications

Pete Stoughton, Consultant


Wednesday, March 25

10:30-11:15 am: 5 Common Extrusion Problems, and How to Solve Them

Jim Frankland, Frankland Plastics Consulting LLC

1:00-1:45 pm: The Three Ts of Growing Your Own Talent

Rich Stueber, Mold Design Manager, Nypro

3:00-3:45 pm: Trying to Solve Molding Problems? Think in Plastic, Not Steel

Rich Oles, Tooling Manager, Stone Plastics


Thursday, March 26

10:30-11:15 am: Big Area Additive Manufacturing

Chad E. Duty, Ph.D., Oak Ridge National Laboratory

1:00-1:45 pm: Bringing Manufacturing Back Home

Harry Moser, Reshoring Initiative

3:00-3:45 pm: Resin Drying: Separating the Science from the Myth

Mike Sepe, Michael Sepe LLC


Plug Into Our Network
In addition to the chance to “kick the tires” on the latest technologies, trade shows have also always provided one of the best opportunities to network with peers. In that spirit, our Knowledge Network is back including events, giveaways, prizes and more.


Beyond personal edification, by joining the network, entrants will receive:


  • A Knowledge Network T-shirt
  • Two drink tickets for refreshments in our Network Bar
  • A chance to win 1 of 5 grand prizes


Plastics Next Generation
Plastics Technology and fellow Gardner Business Media, Inc. publication MoldMaking Technology are also sponsoring the inaugural “FL!P & SiP” Reception at NPE2015, organized by SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) committee. A launch event for FLiP and an introduction SPE’s Next Generation Advisory Board (NGAB) for young professional in the industry, the reception will take place on Tuesday, March 24 from 4:30–6:30 pm, in the West Hall’s Valencia Ballroom.


Featuring multiple tasting bars and networking opportunities, the reception is open to all attendees and exhibitors, young and old. Per SPI:


Each over-40 attendee of the reception will be asked to bring one of their under-40 colleagues, so that they can bring a member of the next generation into the FLiP fold and put them on the track to plastics industry leadership.


Travel safe and be sure to stop by Plastics Technology’s booth to bring home a t-shirt, some knowledge and perhaps a prize. 

Scientific Injection Molding Goes Mobile With New App

By: Tony Deligio 11. March 2015

On the same day in 1995 that he started a new job, Suhas Kulkarni was formally introduced to the concept of Scientific Molding at a seminar hosted by Hewlett Packard and the former GE Plastics (now SABIC). A 1992 graduate of UMass Lowell’s plastics engineering program who began work as an injection molding process engineer in 1993, Kulkarni remembers reading about the concept prior to the seminar but not practicing it. That would soon change.


“Once I started implementing the techniques,” Kulkarni says, “I realized their value. I also realized that there was a lot which was not understood about those techniques and so I started to come up with additions to what I had learned.”


Eventually those deeper understandings and additions to the core guidelines became a full-fledged desktop software for Scientific Molding and Design of Experiments called Nautilus, as Kulkarni founded FIMMTECH (Frontier Injection Molding and Materials Technologies, San Diego, Calif.) in 2004. FIMMTECH’s stated goal: to help develop and standardize validation procedures, provide training and help processors improve the overall efficiency of their molding operations (the company recently opened a new training center replete with a molding machine and the company will be in Orlando for NPE2015).


As desktop computers increasingly give way to tablets and mobile phones and traditional software transitions to apps, the continued evolution of Kulkarni’s original program was inevitable. “As users have started moving to mobile platforms, it was only a matter of time and a logical next step to build the app,” Kulkarni says.


That app, called Scientific Molding, is available for Android and iOS systems. It features the ability to generate the six scientific molding graphs (viscosity study, cavity balance study, pressure drop study, cosmetic process window, gate seal study, and cooling study), and it can also perform molding calculations, including tonnage, estimated shot size, residence time, percent shot size used, hopper dryer sizes, water flow tables and calculations of process parameters on a new machine.


Built in “Learning Centers” cover:


  • Scientific Molding and Scientific Processing
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Basics of Injection Molding
  • Injection Molding Parameters
  • 6-Step Study (the Scientific Molding Studies)
  • Design of Experiments
  • Molding Defects and their Solutions


“Having these tools on a mobile device, such as a phone, is invaluable since now molders do not need to carry their laptops or have sheets of papers,” Kulkarni says. “They can perform their studies, or look up information, on a device that they typically always have in their pockets – their phones.”


Kulkarni says the initial feedback for the app has been “overwhelming and very positive.” The Android version was released first, followed soon after by an iOS edition for Apple users. Kulkarni says there will be updates as features are added, with a “final goal” of integrating the data from the desktop version to the mobile platform.

The “Second Machine Age”

By: Tony Deligio 4. March 2015

During the Industrial Revolution, machinery replaced muscle, complementing and augmenting human labor; today as machines increasingly replace minds in the workforce, and human obsolescence becomes possible in some areas, what are the implications for the economy if not our society?


Those insights and questions come from Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Center for Digital Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, who along with Andrew McAfee authored the “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies”.


Brynjolfsson, McAfee and others came together in February to discuss the rise of “smart” machines and their implications for the economy at an event called The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine organized by The Hamilton Project.


Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin kicked off the event with a question regarding that machine replacement of man:


If labor displacing technology does move at a rapid pace and with great potential for economic significance, and if dynamism continues such that technology is deployed, will new industries and new jobs develop that will replace those that have been lost, and will those new jobs be well paid?


A Paradox
Brynjolfsson began his presentation by noting a paradox of today’s economy: American workers have never been more productive with “much of this bounty coming because of some advances in technology” but median income is actually lower now than it was 15-20 years ago. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call this “the great decoupling,” which has been fueled in part by technology.


“We're now in the early stages of a second machine age where machines are also beginning to supplant minds as well as muscles and do a lot of the control functions that used to be integral and only done by humans,” Brynjolfsson said.


Back in 2005, Brynjolfsson noted that there were certain skills considered to be “Uniquely Human”, like:


  • Autonomous mobility and fine motor control
  • Language and complex communication
  • Pattern matching and unstructured problem solving


Fast forward 10 years and we’re in a new era of “machine intelligence”, marked by systems that can interact with the physical world, with vision and other senses as well as fine and gross motor control. In terms of language, machines offer voice recognition, natural language processing and the ability to create narratives.  In terms of problem solving, software platforms can now answer unstructured questions, utilize rule-based analysis and perform pattern recognition and classification.


To illustrate these advances, Brynjolfsson’s slides included everything from Baxter and Siri to Watson and a service called Narrative Science, which uses software to automatically generate news stories for things like company earnings reports.


“Free, Perfect and Instant”
This area of machine intelligence will be one to watch, according to Brynjolfsson, particularly as more and more jobs can be “codified.”


Digital technologies are quite different.  You can take a process and codify it and once you codify it you can digitize it, and once you digitize it you can make a copy or ten copies or a hundred million copies, and each of those copies have three very interesting characteristics.  They can be made at almost zero cost, they are perfect replicas of the original, and they can be transmitted anywhere on the planet more or less instantaneously. Free, perfect, and instant are three adjectives we didn't use to describe most goods and services historically, but they are standard for digital goods and they lead to some weird and sometimes wonderful economics. 


The weird and the wonderful is also widespread:


This isn't just in a few obscure corners of the economy; software is eating the world.  It's coming to retailing, to finance, to manufacturing, to media, more and more parts of the industry. 


Another Tool
Brynjolfsson ended on an optimistic note, however. After all, increased productivity can never be considered a bad thing, and if it comes from machines (designed by humans), those humans are now free to tackle bigger, better problems.


And at the end of the day the most important thing to remember is that technology is and always has been merely a tool.  Now we have more powerful tools than we ever have had before and they have the potential to create enormous wealth with much less need for work.  Some people see that as a bug.  I think we should see it as a feature.  It should be good news.  I think shame on us if we aren't using these amazing tools to create more shared prosperity. 

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