PT Blog

Screw-Recovery Problems Call for Special Screw Design

This is particularly the case in packaging and other applications where high outputs or thin-wall parts are essential. For one Nordson Corp. customer producing large thin-wall parts, making the switch from a standard screw to a custom-designed Xaloy screw has resolved a cycle-time issue, increasing productivity and profitability.

In one of its North American plants, this customer was using a general-purpose screw to process 100% recycled HDPE on a 1000-ton Ube injection molding machine. Shot size was 3750 g. The molder’s problem was a screw recovery phase that was too long. It was an issue that is all too common in injection molding, often involving processing of virgin or recycled PP or HDPE.

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‘Untapped Workforce’ Helps Drive Growth at MDI

There are a lot of numbers you can look at to tell the story of MDI, a Minneapolis-based company that extrudes corrugated sheet and converts it into tubs, totes, boxes and trays for the likes of the U.S. Postal Service and Fortune 500 firms in manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, logistics, e-commerce, and others.

Start with the number 1964. That is the year the company started as Minnesota Diversified Industries. Sister Anna Marie Meyers had 14 high school students with disabilities about to graduate without job opportunities. She founded The Occupational Training Center (OTC) as an extension program of Christ Child School in St. Paul. Not long after, the OTC became independent of the school and named John DuRand as its executive director, thus beginning the first Minnesota-supported work program for people with disabilities. OTC evolved into MDI, which remains a not-for-profit business.

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Achieving Continuous Improvement Using SMED Programs

In the plastics manufacturing industry, implementing Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) is known to reduce changeover times. It also creates value by optimizing activity against time—all while reducing waste. While SMED’s value may be increased or reduced by marketplace demand and therefore the need for optimum throughput, improving changeover can be done under any economic condition, including today’s COVID-19 crisis and recovery phases. I’ll go into detail on how to successfully implement SMED while sustaining it for a more profitable future of your plastics manufacturing plant.

It’s important to understand the basics of SMED before moving forward. There are five steps in the traditional SMED process:

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Prices of Volume Resins Bottom Out

Moving toward the third quarter, prices of volume commodity resins generally appeared to have bottomed out, though there was potential for some further downward movement for PS, nylon 6 and perhaps PET. In contrast, upward movement for some resins is also likely with the return of the Chinese export market, for which a significant volume of domestic supply is dedicated. For example, 40% of domestic PE production and 30% of PVC is earmarked for export to China. The combination of higher exports, increased costs of feedstocks such as ethylene, and the throttling back of resin production contribute to the potential for price increases. Additional factors are the slow ramp-up of production of industrial and durable goods that had been suppressed by coronavirus pandemic, along with potential increases in crude-oil prices, and what is expected to be an abnormally active Atlantic hurricane season.

These are the views of purchasing consultants from Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), senior editors from Houston-based PetroChemWire (PCW), and CEO Michael Greenberg of The Plastics Exchange.

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Contraction Slows for Processors

The Gardner Business Index for plastics processing moved up by eight points in May, registering 41.5 after setting an all-time low in April. For the first time since the government curtailed normal business operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all components of the Index moved towards more “normal” levels. Excluding supplier deliveries, all components moved higher from their prior-month readings, although each remained below 50. This situation signals that the industry is experiencing a slowing contraction, meaning that while conditions deteriorated further in the latest month, they did so at a slower rate than in the prior month.

The supplier delivery reading fell slightly in May, which may indicate a turning point in the unprecedented disruption that affected upstream production and slowed deliveries earlier in the year. (Quickening supplier deliveries lower this Index component’s reading.) The plastics processing market was exceptional in May in that survey participants reported both falling material prices and weaker pricing power for their own products.

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