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Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors








features profile A Complete Circle at KW Container .....................................................8 solutions Mold Filling Simulation… Under Pressure .......................................... 13

departments director’s letter ..................6

trends The Guiding Principles of Healthcare Reform .................................... 16

association .......................22

industry Intellectual Property Awareness Vital to Success in 3D Printing ......... 26

product ............................30

production The View from 30 Feet: Reducing the Maintenance Burden on Technicians ................................................................................... 32

advertisers .......................46

strategies Medical Molding Benefits from Revalidation of Injection Molding Processes Using Universal Set-up Data ............................................... 34 management The Top 10 Plastics Training Mistakes ................................................ 38 marketing Get Involved in Your Community ........................................................ 42

4 | plastics business • spring 2013


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director’s letter

Leadership… having the end in mind! The other day, my seventeen year old daughter, Maria, inquisitively asked me about my personal definition of leadership. This level of interaction and engagement from my high school junior is not necessarily typical, so I was relatively excited to be asked such a question. After realizing that my insight would partially be used for the speech she was preparing for her high school business economics course, I hurriedly rose from my chair to provide my thoughts and act out my delivery method. Pacing the floor with direct eye contact, I looked at my daughter and said, “Leadership… leadership is about how well an individual of authority takes care of their people.” Although very proud of my answer, I could tell by the eye roll that only a 17-year-old daughter can give that she was not pleased with the brevity of my response, so I began to provide countless examples of how great leaders worked to ensure the needs of their people were met. It is my belief that “leadership” is the distinguishing factor between all companies. Great leaders understand that increasing the knowledge and productivity bases of their people is the answer to running a highly successful business. Great leaders understand that the majority of employees perform their job functions without even coming close to using their full capacity. In a book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, a comprehensive leadership study examined over 150 leaders and hundreds of their subordinates with the discovery that great leaders were able to obtain 1.97 times more productivity from their employees. In other words, great leaders were able to tap into nearly twice the human capacity than their ordinary leader counterparts. Great leaders understand that, due to their roles, they have the ability to positively or negatively impact the lives of the people they serve. These leaders have the end game in mind as they are continually focused on the legacy they will leave behind. More than ever, people want to be part of something that has purpose and meaning; leaders who are aware of these aspirations are working to build company cultures that enable this type of inclusion. Can you envision your company’s success if your leadership and leadership team created an environment where 100 percent of your workforce looked forward to Monday mornings with as much joy as they greeted their weekends? Can you imagine if 100 percent of your employees actually looked forward to waking up and going to work? Winning the hearts, minds and loyalty of your employees translates into individuals who are dedicated to making the company they work for better; who take the extra step to ensure the needs of the customer are met; who pick up trash from the production floor because they care about how the facility looks; who go out of their way to make a new employee feel welcome; who proactively identify unsafe conditions because they care for the workers around them; and who literally think about the company on their off time because it is that important to them. The next time you work to devise strategies to move your company to the next level and gain an edge on the competition, I would strongly encourage you to take a step back and focus on ways to strengthen the leadership of your management team. Small gains in this area will have a significant and lasting impact. Remember, great leaders understand the importance of legacy and constantly ask the following question: Will those I have led remember me for the positive impact I made on their lives? P.S. MAPP is working diligently to develop strong and industry-impacting leaders. Leadership will be a primary focus at this year’s MAPP Benchmarking Conference, October 17-18. Plan to attend!

Executive Director

6 | plastics business • spring 2013

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 phone 317.913.2440 • fax 317.913.2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics Bill Bartlett, First American Plastics/Quad, Inc. Tom Boyd, Blow Molded Specialties Dan Cunningham, Parish Manufacturing Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Matt Groleau, RJG, Inc. Lindsey Hahn, Metro Plastics Technologies Laurie Harbour, Harbour Results, Inc. Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Bob Holbrook, Viking Plastics James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. John Passanisi, PRD, Inc. Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Jeff Randa, PolyOne Distribution Alan Rothenbuecher, ICE Miller LLP Scott Titzer, Infinity CleanRoom Solutions Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Rick Walters, DeKalb Molded Plastics Roger Williams, Royer Corp.

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

Peterson Publications, Inc. 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 phone 785.271.5801 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com Editor in Chief Jeff Peterson

Advertising/Sales Janet Dunnichay

Managing Editor Dianna Brodine

Contributing Editor Jen Clark Gayla Peterson

Art Director Becky Arensdorf

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


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A Complete Circle at KW Container

“We supply our own resin, create our own product and have our own trucking company, which gives us an enormous edge over our competition.”

by Dianna Brodine


Troy, AL company originally known for recycling lead from car batteries entered the plastics recycling industry when car battery case makers switched to plastic construction. As recycled plastic volume grew, KW Plastics spun into a new enterprise as it searched for a way to utilize its own material; today, that enterprise – KW Container – is the largest manufacturer of plastic gallon and quart paint cans in the US.

Recycled material leads to US introduction of plastic paint containers “The KW umbrella of companies has a unique business model,” explained Darren Scholl, director of operations at KW Container. “We are a cradle to grave supplier. We supply our own resin, create our own product and have our own trucking company, which gives us an enormous competitive edge.” The company originally was a recycling facility for lead. At that time, batteries were made of a coal byproduct, so parts that weren’t recyclable could go to the landfill. Once battery cases began to be made of plastic, the landfill was not an option so the plastic recycling side of the business was born. “When the plastics recycling business got started, it wasn’t very popular in the US,” said Scholl. “And still, by our standards, it’s not where it needs to be, even though we’re the largest recycler in the world of polyethylene and polypropylene plastic. We’re recycling over a million pounds a day, seven days a week, but compared to what’s currently still going to the landfill that is the tip of what’s available.” The ‘W’ in KW represents Wiley Sanders Trucking. The transportation business was trucking materials to be recycled into Troy from across the US, but then driving empty back to its pick-up points. The ownership team looked at the recycled plastic material that was building up at the facility and started searching for answers.

8 | plastics business • spring 2013

Members of MAPP toured KW Container to learn from the highly automated facility.

Photo Credit: MAPP, Inc.

Market research led to a look at paint container practices in Europe where plastic containers already were common thanks to benefits such as reduced container denting, rust contamination and leaks. KW Container began making containers for the paint and coatings industry in 1998 with the introduction of a hybrid container that featured an all-plastic body. The container quickly gained acceptance by manufacturers and today, the majority of plastic paint containers in US retail stores contain the KW stamp. With five manufacturing sites across the US employing approximately 200 associates, KW Container has the capacity to produce 250,000,000 gallon paint containers annually. The company also produces quarts, pints, ½ pints, ½ liters, 1 liters, 2.5 liters, 4 liters and 5 liters in various quantities.

Educating processors and customers about recycled plastics KW Container’s next venture will be going live with 100-percent recycled paint cans. In addition, the manufacturer is taking its containers worldwide with introductions in Europe, South Africa and South America. However, while KW Plastics is at the forefront of the sustainability movement, the company has had to focus part of its efforts on educating its customers and other plastics processors on the possibilities inherent in recycled materials. “The US has to go through a paradigm shift to understand the difference between regrind and recycled materials,” Scholl explained. “I’m from the injection molding side of the business, so I know what variables the use of regrind introduces into the part you’re making, but that’s not what we do. We bring in plastic to recycle, and then put additives into it to bring it back to the same properties that virgin resin would have.” Scholl admits that when processors think about recycled resin, they often think about the challenges in working with

regrind. That’s where the nature of the KW Container and KW Plastics partnership comes into play. “We spend a lot of our time as injection molders going with the recycling company to talk to potential customers so they understand how to mold our material,” explained Scholl. “When you’re trying to sell resin to an outside customer, it’s a neat resource that can be utilized.” Recycled materials from KW Plastics are being used in an increasingly number of applications, including underhood parts for the automotive industry, cases for drills, trash cans and returnable skids. In addition, much of the company’s recycled ethylene products go back into the bottle industry. And then, of course, there are the paint containers. “We are our own largest customer. We truck plastic in, recycle it, turn it into pellets, turn it into cans and then truck the cans back out,” described Scholl. “If we can just figure out how to get our cans back from our paint customers, we could close that loop 100 percent!”

Automation builds quality control into the process KW Container is a highly automated, low labor facility. “No one touches a part in our facility until the pallets are picked up and put in inventory,” said Scholl. “We mold the part, it drops from the cavities, it is 100-percent inspected several page 10 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 9

profile t page 9 times, an assembly operation takes place and individual cans are palletized in the warehouse. It’s all automated.” The quality systems are comprised of four stages. All materials are tested before part molding commences, and once production begins, alarm settings are set on the machines and the RJG system provides cavity pressure controls. An automated vision system provides a third level of inspection once a part has been molded, where the part is measured and checked for flash. The fourth level of quality inspection is what School calls ‘just too late’. “We have a quality inspector check parts randomly, but if the quality person finds a bad part two hours after a production KW Container employees wear color-coded uniform shirts based on job description. run, it’s too late,” he explained. “We have a high-volume, high-speed line with 100 different cavities. One bad cavity can contaminate the whole box.” the highly automated environment. “It was a large investment without knowing what the return was going to be,” said Scholl. As with the initial foray into plastic paint container molding, “The owners didn’t have a lot of experience in robotics, but the ownership team took a step into the unknown to create they had great foresight into how our facility needed to operate to set us up for the future.”

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Elimination of entry-level positions create more efficient workforce The high level of automation at KW Container demands a higher level of employee. There are very few entry level positions, and finding qualified engineers for quality and process control in the small community of Troy can be a challenge. “We are continually faced with either hiring someone and bringing them into our community or conducting an in-house training program,” Scholl said. “We decided to create a very extensive internal training program.” A qualified, experienced process engineer was brought in, and then KW started a training program for additional process engineers in conjunction with RJG. “Our hope is that we’ve done the training well so an operator can move up to a quality engineer position, because to go out and find someone is difficult,” he said. Engineers aren’t the only employees to receive extensive training. In fact, all employees go through 40 hours of training per year, in a combination of classroom and shop floor education. KW Container partners with a variety of resources, including the local community college, RJG and its suppliers.

SRR is a trade name for Stout Risius Ross, Inc. and Stout Risius Ross Advisors, LLC, a FINRA registered broker-dealer and SIPC member firm.

10 | plastics business • spring 2013

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profile t page 10 New employee training begins with a unique edge. Although KW Container employees wear uniforms, new employees do not receive a uniform shirt until they pass a 90-day review. “When we hire a new employee, we know they need extra care,” explained Scholl. “In many cases, they also don’t know who to turn to with their questions. Our uniforms are coded by color – production staff wear blue shirts, red shirts are worn by quality personnel, material handlers wear green and toolroom employees wear black. As a new employee, I don’t need to know names – I just need to remember which color of shirt to grab to solve whatever issue has come up.” Scholl pointed out that with the gradual elimination of entry level positions, volume has increased more than 40 percent over the past five years. That productivity increase can be credited to a program philosophy that valued quality over quantity. An evaluation process ranks employees in each position. Once a gap between the top performer and the lowest performer is identified, a training program is developed to help the bottom tier employee achieve at the level of the top tier employee.

“Our employees all are enthused and knowledgeable,” Scholl said. “I tell everybody – the only true asset you have is an employee. You can buy equipment – you can spend all of the money you want to – but you have to have people to run it. If you don’t have the employee side of it, you will not win the game.” When asked for the keys to success at KW Container, Scholl points to several factors. “I think it’s a combination of people, economy and plastic,” he said. “We make a better container at a better cost, which was critical during the downturn when our customers were looking to reduce their product costs.” Scholl went on to explain that KW Container had streamlined production two years prior to the downturn, so capacity was available to bring on two major customers without adding equipment or staffing resources. The ready availability of recycled resin cannot be underestimated as a contributing factor, but Scholl gives credit to the KW ownership team for looking to the future of the company. “They identified the market in paint containers, and they built the capacity in without ever having a first customer.” n

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12 | plastics business • spring 2013


Mold Filling Simulation…

Under Pressure


I did a mold filling simulation on a new part and mold design to ensure that we had enough pressure available to fill the part. However, the analysis under-predicted the pressures by 20 percent, and now I am on the verge of being pressure limited. I have to go back and rework the mold or find a molding machine with more available pressure. Is this a common problem with CAE? Why is the analysis prediction so different from the actual results? For those who use mold filling simulation (a.k.a. “CAE”) or contract outside consultants to provide simulation results, it probably is no surprise to hear that in many instances, the simulation’s pressure results do not match closely with the actual injection molding process results. The key is to understand why this happens and to adapt the results accordingly. Perhaps it’s also appropriate to change how the analysis is approached from the beginning. There are several reasons why simulation could under-predict or over-predict filling pressures. First, determine if it is a problem caused by software limitations or an error related to the comparison of the actual injection molding process. In order to determine the reason why the pressure prediction is not the same as the actual molding, Beaumont Technologies recommends the following two-step troubleshooting process:

Step One: Compare analysis to molding results.

First, it must be determined if the analysis truly reflects what is being molded. Following are some common items to review when setting up an analysis to replicate an injection molding process: Compare analysis settings vs. machine set-up: Simulations allow the user to specify an injection time or volumetric flow rate, while injection molding machines normally have an injection profile. Profiles may ramp up from a slow rate to full velocity and then ramp down again prior to the end of the filling phase. Even if the molding machine is programmed to have a constant velocity, the ram will not move at a constant speed as the ram can not instantly change velocities. The same is true at the end of the filling phase. Profiles on the machine most likely will require less pressure than the constant velocity that is typically used for most CAE flow simulation analyses. Review the machine switch-over point: If the machine switch-over to pressure control is close to the point where the cavity is completely filled, then it is possible that the cavity will experience hydrostatic conditions. This will be evident through a rapid rise in the cavity and machine pressures (See Figure 1 on page 14). In multi-cavity molds, these pressure spikes also can occur due to filling imbalances. For example, the machine may be set to switch over when 95 percent of the shot has been injected. But if an imbalance exists, some cavities may be full while others are only 60 percent full. The full cavities will see a page 14 u

by John Ralston Beaumont Technologies, Inc. Founded in 1998, Beaumont Technologies, Inc. has become a top choice for training and mold filling simulation services in the plastics industry. In addition, Beaumont provides a proprietary line of Rheological Control Systems (ie. MeltFlipper ®) designed to optimize mold performance and part quality in single- and multi-cavity molds. For more information, call 814.899.6390, email info@beaumontinc.com or visit www.beaumontinc.com.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 13

solutions t page 13 significant pressure spike again due to the hydrostatic pressure conditions. Be sure to compare the switch-over point used in the analysis to what is set on the machine. Account for screw conveyance and machine nozzle losses: Many CAE analysts do not model the machine nozzle geometry, nor do they consider the pressure required to move the ram. If the nozzle geometry is not accounted for, then the pressure loss through the machine nozzle and screw conveyance losses need to be added to the analysis results Figure 1 for a more accurate pressure prediction. As a rule of thumb, add 3kpsi (up to 5kpsi) to the analysis results to account for these losses. This rule of thumb certainly is affected by the design of the nozzle (shut-off nozzle, extended nozzle, diameters and length of the nozzle including the orifice size, etc…) and material being molded, so be aware of the design and its impact on pressure loss. If possible, do a pressure loss study on the machine’s nozzle ahead of time, being sure to use the material for the part being analyzed, and record the number for future use upon completing the simulation. Correct mold and melt temperatures: In addition to the injection rate, the mold and melt temperatures used in the analysis also must be conveyed to the processor so that those temperatures are used in the process. High mold and melt temperatures will lower the viscosity and decrease the actual pressure. The melt temperature used in the analysis is NOT the barrel or nozzle settings.

Figure 2

14 | plastics business • spring 2013

The best way to measure the melt temperature is with an air shot and a hand-held pyrometer. There are procedures written and available to the industry on how to properly check the actual melt temperature. The mold temperature specified in the analysis is the temperature at the plastic/ metal interface, NOT the temperature of the coolant or setting on the thermolator. The coolant temperature typically will be lower than the temperature at the plastic/ metal interface. It also should be noted that if a cooling analysis was not performed, the CAE software assumes perfect uniform cooling, which in most cases does not replicate the true molding process.

Step Two: Verify the analysis inputs.

Once it has been verified that the molding process has been closely replicated, the next step is to verify the analysis inputs. Major areas of concern when setting up an analysis include the following: Analysis selection: There are multiple solution platforms that can be used for a filling analysis. Depending upon the software vendor, these could include 2D, Midplane (2 ½ D), Dual Domain, Hybrid 3D and Full 3D methods. The decision to use a particular solution method is complex and based on the scope of the problem, part complexity and the degree of accuracy required. Choosing a wrong solution platform may cause inaccurate results (Figure 2). Be sure to ask questions of the CAE analyst or supplier to verify that the problem can be solved effectively and efficiently on the chosen solution platform.


Inaccurate modeling: Ensure that the entire feed system is modeled, including the sprue, runner system and gates. This applies for hot and cold runner systems, or hybrid systems (hot-to-cold). There is a pressure loss associated with any channel that the melt flows through, and the feed system contributes significant portions of the total pressure loss.

ensure proper results is to have the material tested based on individual analysis requirements. The drawbacks with material testing for each project are the added expense and time required. Another option would be to run verification analyses concurrently with the actual analysis. This can be accomplished by analyzing an existing mold.

Material characterization: This is an area where a lot of variation could be introduced. A simulation’s calculations for flow, temperature and pressure are highly dependant upon proper material characterization. In most cases, the material database supplied with the CAE software is limited, which presents a problem when performing an analysis for specific jobs. To compound the problem, even if the exact material, supplier and grade are listed in the database, the data may not be valid for several reasons.


For example, improper rheological characterization or the use of generic family data (Generic PVT) may inaccurately represent a specific material’s rheology. Single point thermal conductivity or specific heat values verses tabulated data also may cause problems. The best way to

There are many variables that can contribute to inaccurate results with CAE flow simulation programs. This article has discussed the major sources for error, but there certainly are others to consider. The key to obtaining the best results is to understand the injection molding process, how it relates to flow analysis simulation and the limitations and assumptions made in the software code. When choosing to outsource flow simulation, perform the appropriate homework and find a CAE consulting source that understands these issues and can react appropriately to provide the best results available with today’s technology. The key to making simulation successful is having someone with the ability to interpret the results… not just the ability to export pretty pictures into a PowerPoint file. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 15


The Guiding Principles of Healthcare Reform Beginning January 1, 2014, “play or pay” requires that individuals and large employers must purchase/provide a minimum level of health insurance coverage or pay a penalty for not doing so.

reprinted with permission from Plante Moran


ince the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) went into effect nearly three years ago, countless hours have been spent on the evaluation, consideration and implementation of more than half of the reform-related initiatives. Perhaps the reform provisions on the horizon, however, will have the greatest impact on an employer’s overall cost and benefit strategy – provisions such as the “play or pay” mandate and the creation of an insurance Exchange as a means by which individuals and small employers can purchase health insurance. The balance of this article will highlight the most central changes of the PPACA, particularly employer-sponsored plans.

Individuals and small groups Beginning in 2014, states have the option of establishing a health insurance Exchange in any one of three methods: state-run, partnership with the federal government or ceding the establishment of the Exchange entirely to the federal government. The health insurance Exchanges are designed to increase competition in the individual and small group markets. Employers with no more than 50 employees (or 100 employees, depending upon the specific state Exchange) will be able to purchase private health insurance through the newly formed public Exchanges. In 2017, the public Exchange may be expanded to allow all employers to purchase insurance through an Exchange. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of December 14, 2012, 19 states have declared for a state-run Exchange, seven states are planning for a state/federal partnership and 25 states have defaulted to a federally-run Exchange.

Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires perhaps the most sweeping changes with respect to the delivery, taxation, and requirements associated with healthcare insurance in modern history. Plante Moran and Plante Moran Group Benefit Advisors are committed to serving as a resource to help its clients understand healthcare reform, its key elements and its potential impact. For more information, visit www.plantemoran.com.

Requirements of exchange-based plans Effective January 1, 2014, Exchange-based plans must offer coverage for “essential health benefits” (EHBs), which include items and services in 10 statutory benefit categories – including hospitalization, prescription drugs and maternity and newborn care – that “are equal in scope to a typical employer health plan.” Each state/Exchange is able to choose its benchmark plan to represent the typical employer plan for the purpose of defining EHBs. Additionally, in an attempt to simplify the comparison between plans, all plans offered through an Exchange must be grouped together based on actuarial values (AVs): 60 percent for bronze, 70 percent for silver, 80 percent for gold and 90 percent for platinum plans; collectively, these are commonly referred to as “metal tiers.” To assist employers in determining the metal tier of a particular plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury Department developed and

16 | plastics business • spring 2013

page 18 u

in•san•i•ty Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. –Albert Einstein

Same precision molds, processes and machines = same problems. Stop the insanity—Insist on MeltFlipper®. Faster startups, higher productivity and lower cost.


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trends t page 16 released the Actuarial Value Calculator (AVC), which allows an employer to enter plan details regarding plan benefits, coverage and cost-sharing features to determine the minimum plan value and, therefore, its “metal tier.” As an alternative to the AVC, an array of safe-harbor checklists can be used by an employer to compare its plan’s coverage, or an employer may engage a certified actuary to determine the plan’s actuarial value without the use of a calculator.

• 2014 – Greater of $95 per person (up to three people/family, or $285) or 1 percent of taxable income

Play or pay Perhaps the single most significant change is the implementation of the individual mandate. Beginning January 1, 2014, “play or pay” requires that individuals and large employers must purchase/provide a minimum level of health insurance coverage or pay a penalty for not doing so. Participation in Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, insurance purchased through an Exchange on the individual market, employer-sponsored coverage that’s affordable and provides minimum value or grandfathered plans (group coverage in effect on/before March 23, 2010, that meets certain requirements) precludes application of an individual penalty. Individual penalties for failing to obtain coverage are:

The “play or pay” mandate also applies to large employers that, in general, employed an average of at least 50 full-time and full-time equivalent employees during the preceding calendar year. Full-time employees are those working 30 or more hours per week, excluding full-time seasonal employees who work less than 120 days during the year. In determining full-time equivalent employees, the hours worked by employees who aren’t full-time employees (those working less than 30 hours per week) are considered solely for purposes of determining whether an employer is a large employer by taking the total number of monthly hours worked divided by 120. For example, an employer with 40 part-time employees that average 90 hours per month would have 30 full-time equivalent employees (40 x 90 = 3,600; 3,600/120=30) that must be added to the number of full-time employees when determining large group status. Large employers are required to offer at least one plan with minimum actuarial value (MAV) and meet the affordability requirement or potentially pay a penalty. The MAV and affordable standards are defined as:

• 2015 – Greater of $325 per person (up to three people/family, or $975) or 2 percent of taxable income • 2016 – Greater of $695 per person (up to three people/family, or $2,085) or 2.5 percent of taxable income • After 2016 – Adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases

• MAV – Plan with at least 60 percent actuarial value • Affordable – Employers will satisfy this requirement if they offer at least one health plan option in which the individual (single) employee contribution level does not exceed 9.5 percent of household income.


A plan is considered a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) when both the MAV and affordability standards are satisfied.

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Similar to the Individual and Small Group market, HHS and Treasury intend to develop a Minimum Value (MV) calculator to apply to the large and self-insured market. This calculator will assist in MAV determination after entering cost-sharing information. Employers also may use design-based Safe Harbor Checklists and Actuarial Certification for MAV determination. A large employer that fails to offer at least one QHP and has at least one employee purchase individual, subsidized coverage through an Exchange is subject to the lesser of the following penalties:

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18 | plastics business • spring 2013

• $2,000 per year per full-time employee (excluding the first 30 full-time employees) • $3,000 per year per full-time employee receiving subsidized coverage through an Exchange

Interplay of subsidies and play or pay Federal premium assistance tax credits and subsidies will be available to many low- and middle-income individuals so that they can afford to purchase coverage via an Exchange. Individuals with family incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for slidingscale subsidies in the form of tax credits and out-of-pocket reductions to help with the cost of cost-sharing (copayments and coinsurance). Finally, employer-sponsored self-insured and insured large group plans, as defined by the law, aren’t required to offer all 10 EHBs referenced above. Rather, employer groups in this category are required to cover only four broad categories of EHB: physician and mid-level practitioner care, hospital and

emergency room services, pharmacy benefits and laboratory and imaging services. Unlike individual and Exchange-based plans, self-insured and insured large group plans are exempt from classifying their plans by metal tier.

Miscellaneous changes and related PPACA fees In addition to the “play or pay” mandate, EHBs and affordability, once the Exchanges launch, an effective expansion of coverage will occur as insurance carriers no longer will be permitted to medically underwrite applicants, apply pre-existing condition limitations or rate for medical conditions and health status. Other fees/taxes will be imposed within PPACA that are designed to assist insurance companies that cover higher-cost individuals as the result of PPACA’s expansion of coverage. One such fee/tax is a temporary Reinsurance Program Fee effective January 1, 2014. Each state/Exchange may establish a threeyear reinsurance program to help stabilize premiums in the individual market by providing additional payments to insured plans that enroll the highest-cost individuals. HHS will establish page 20 u

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trends t page 19 a reinsurance program for any state that chooses not to establish its own program and will collect $10 billion in 2014, $6 billion in 2015 and $4 billion in 2016. The Reinsurance Program will be funded by contributing entities, defined as (1) a health insurer and (2) third-party administrators collecting funds on behalf of self-funded group health plans. Reinsurance contributions will be paid on a quarterly basis, with the first payment due by January 15, 2014. While the national per capita (per employee per month) amount has not yet been released, the assessment is estimated at approximately $5 to $7, which will vary by state. This is assumed to equate to approximately 1.5 percent of premiums. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Fee is another fee that is required under PPACA. It applies to plan sponsors and issuers of individual and group policies and is applicable for plan years ending after September 30, 2012. The fee will expire and won’t apply to plan years ending after October 1, 2019. Revenue will fund research to determine the effectiveness of various forms of medical treatment. The initial annual fee of $1 per covered life is for plan years that end before October 1, 2013, and increases to $2 for plan years that end between October 1, 2013, and October 1, 2014; fees then increase to an amount indexed annually to the per capita amount of the National Health Expenditures. The Health Insurance Tax (HIT), also effective January 1, 2014, applies to most forms of insured health insurance, both grandfathered and non-grandfathered plans. The HIT does not apply to self-insured businesses or stop loss insurance. The HIT is a fixed-dollar amount distributed across health insurance providers: $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015 and 2016, $13.9 billion in 2017 and $14.3 billion in 2018. After 2018, the preceding year amount will increase by the rate of annualized premium growth. Under current law, the fee has no expiration date. The HIT obligation is determined by the federal government, based on each insurer’s portion of total premiums that are impacted by the fee. Research conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in November 2011 suggests that insurance premiums will increase by two to three percent as a result of this fee.

So what does all of this mean? And, more importantly, what should you do? Although there are no easy answers given the complexity of PPACA and the number of moving parts and regulatory requirements, Plante Moran offers the following guiding principles:

20 | plastics business • spring 2013

• Seek out relationships with advisors who are knowledgeable about PPACA and can help you assess your situation. If your current broker/agent/consultant/advisor is poorly informed, consider alternate relationships, including engaging tax and/ or legal counsel. • For most employers, January 1, 2014, likely will mean continuing to deliver healthcare benefits through the employersponsored market. In fact, employers of at least 50 employees, unless specifically allowed by the state Exchange, are precluded from purchasing through the public Exchange. • Employers that continue to provide employer-sponsored coverage will be exposed to increased costs such as the Reinsurance Fee, PICORI Fee and HIT mentioned above. As such, costs will increase beyond normal inflationary trends to absorb the additional fees/taxes that are used to subsidize the delivery of health care to other constituencies. • Perhaps the most challenged employers affected by PPACA are those with a large workforce of part-time help that, when aggregated, meet the requirements of a large employer and therefore are now exposed to the $2,000 penalty for not providing EHBs. This clearly represents a significant cost in the form of a penalty or potentially even greater costs of providing a benefit plan that may not currently exist. • Finally, for those employers considering exiting the employersponsored healthcare purchasing market due to penalties or costs, you also should consider: 9 If you currently have a health plan and opt to drop it, employee attraction and retention are very likely to suffer absent other financial accommodations to compensate for the lost benefits. 9 It’s very likely that the individual cost to secure benefits through the Exchange at a level commensurate with current benefits will be much more costly. 9 Purchasing at the individual level versus through an employer-sponsored plan results in greater costs due to the lost tax-favored status of paying for benefits with pre-tax dollars. A great deal of regulatory guidance is forthcoming, but we do know costs aren’t going down. Now, more than ever, proactive strategic planning is essential and will perhaps have the greatest impact on an organization’s financial viability. n


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MAPP Releases 2013 Wage and Salary Report MAPP’s executive team announced the official release of the 2013 Wage and Salary Report. MAPP’s Wage and Salary Report has greatly evolved over the last 10 years and remains one of the most utilized and sought after reports for compensation benchmarks in the plastics manufacturing industry. Today, the report contains comprehensive analysis on over 50 different job classifications with aggregated data from over 200 plastics facilities. These job classifications represent over 15,250 employees in the plastics industry. MAPP’s Wage and Salary Report is recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of compensation rates and trends in the plastics industry. Participation for the 2013 survey grew by 20 percent over the 2011 Wage and Salary Report. All MAPP Members that participated in providing data have received the full report. One member executive stated in response to receiving the information: “I rely on the MAPP Wage and Salary Report to benchmark for our budget every year.” New this year is the added feature of regional data availability. Members and non-members have the opportunity to purchase a more targeted report with data specific to their region. To take advantage of this new benefit or to purchase a copy of the full report, visit the MAPP website (www.mappinc.com, Publications page) or contact the office at 317.913.2440.

MAPP Membership on Record-Setting Pace: 28 New MAPP Member Companies in 2013 2013 already has proven to be a year of significant growth for MAPP membership. In the first four months, 28 new companies have joined the organization. On average, MAPP has experienced the addition of more than 42 new member companies every year for the past six years. However, the current trend has MAPP reaching well over 60 new members this year and catapulting the total membership over the 300 mark. MAPP welcomes the following companies to the organization: All-Plastics Molding Incorporated – Dallas, TX AMCO Polymers – Carmel, IN ASH Industries – Lafayette, LA B&B Molded Products, Inc. – Napoleon, OH

22 | plastics business • spring 2013

Belmont Engineered Plastics LLC – Belmont, MI Dayton Superior Corporation – Rialto, CA Dickten Masch Plastics – Ankeny, IA Ex-Tech Plastics Inc. – Richmond, IL FastCap – Bellingham, WA Hunter Industries – San Marcos, CA Kent Elastomer Products (Mogadore) – Mogadore, OH Kent Elastomer Products (Winesburg) – Winesburg, OH Kent Elastomer Products, Inc. – Kent, OH Legacy Custom Plastics – St. Petersburg, FL Mack Molding (SC) – Inman, SC Mack Molding Co. (NC) – Statesville, NC MedBio, Inc. – Grand Rapids, MI Midwest Molding, Inc. – Bartlett, IL Molding Business Services, Inc. – Florence, MA Molex, Inc. – Pinellas Park, FL MTM Molded Products Company – Dayton, OH Octex Holdings LLC. – Sarasota, FL Par 4 Plastics Inc. – Marion, KY Penn State Erie, The Behrend College – Erie, PA Schnipke Engraving Co. Inc. – Ottoville, OH Schnipke Southwest LLC. – Tucson, AZ Thomson Plastics Inc. – Thomson, GA Yupo USA – Chesapeake, VA

Resin Benchmarking Data Collection Period Launched MAPP has launched a comprehensive resin benchmarking survey that will collect data on the key resin families. The purpose of these surveys is to provide members with relevant information so they can better understand the raw materials marketplace. The MAPP Raw Materials Subcommittee initiated the first resin benchmarking report in 2009 and since then has revised, enhanced and added several more resin families to benchmark. It is the goal of the committee to provide a quick turnaround of information that includes: manufacturer, nomenclature, cost per pound, color, annual usage, packaging and release quantity. Members of MAPP’s Raw Materials Subcommittee would like to urge all MAPP Member executives to participate in the resin benchmarking surveys. The more data collected, the stronger quality of the final reports. Chairperson of the Raw Material Subcommittee Bob Holbrook, Viking Plastics, stated, “MAPP’s benchmarking system will redefine the future in how each MAPP processor approaches the resin marketplace. To quote Peter Drucker: ‘The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.’ MAPP intends on making that difference positive for each Member company.”

MAPP Corporate Partners Added MAPP not only is seeing growth in the membership, but also there has been a significant increase in the number of Corporate Partners that have joined the association. During the first quarter of 2013, five new companies joined as Corporate Partners: Routsis Training, Amco Polymers, PolySource, Network Polymers and Molding Business Solutions. Mike Walter, vice president of MAPP and general manager of MET Plastics, expressed, “Vendors are recognizing the incredible benefit of our network and membership loyalty; therefore, they are working hard to learn how to partner. MAPP is thankful for all of our Corporate Partners and their desire to assist our member with the tools and resources to strongly benefit their company.” Amco Plastic Materials Inc. was founded in 1955 with a philosophy based on helping customers find solutions to problems and a commitment to continuous improvement and service. From that philosophy, Amco has continued to grow, adding diverse services and product offerings such as distribution, compounding, color matching, dry color, color concentrates and anti-counterfeiting. Amco understands that speed is essential in today’s competitive marketplace. Routsis Training was founded over 30 years ago to fill the pressing need in the plastics industry for engaging, ongoing training. Today, Routsis Training materials are used in over 2,400 companies in 37 countries. This includes 93 learning centers and educational institutions that use Routsis interactive training programs as part of their standard curriculum. Molding Business Services is a consulting firm dedicated to the plastics processing industry. Its main focus is custom injection molding, but the company also works with blow molders, thermoformers, compounders, extruders, prototypers, rubber molders and contract manufacturers. Molding Business Services provide small- to medium-sized companies with executive recruiting services, M&A advisory services (merger, acquisition, divestiture, restructuring, valuation, business brokering) and commercial consulting. Network Polymers, Inc. is a leading single source provider of thermoplastic resins and alloys. The company offers a broad spectrum of custom resins and alloys to meet specific product design

and manufacturing requirements. Network Polymers also is the exclusive producer of the Diamond Polymer brand of ABS, ABS/PC, ASA and ASA/PC products. PolySource, Inc. manufactures color EPS (expandable polystyrene) resin and specialty EPS co-polymers. Its worldwide customer base typically consists of EPS molders that produce shape-molded products for a variety of applications. An untiring commitment to quality and service has made PolySource a leader in its industry.

Dates Announced for the Industry’s Leading Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference October 17-18, 2013

JW Marriott in Downtown Indianapolis

Every year the MAPP Benchmarking Conference reaches new records in attendance. The expectation for this year is to have over 425 plastics professionals gathering in Indianapolis on October 17 and 18. This event is focused on the plastic processor executive and is jam-packed with best practices, leading edge benchmarks, expert presentations and the best networking opportunities in the United States plastics industry. The core of this year’s event will provide a laser focus on business improvement strategies and tactics as business executives continue to aggressively focus on improving throughput and efficiencies with lessening amounts of resources. The theme of “PUSH PLAY” corresponds with last year’s presentation by Troy Nix, MAPP’s executive director. During the event, Nix challenged audience members to act on at least one concept or idea they heard while attending. “The Conference Committee strives every year to make the next conference better than the last,” stated Nix. “We recruit speakers who have implemented change and require the presenters to share several take-away concepts for the attendees to implement in their own plants. However, beyond key presenters, we have found that the networking with other professionals probably is the most significant takeaways attendees experience; therefore, we are offering a few unique opportunities this year to enhance the interaction between plastics professionals.” To learn more about how this conference is different, visit www.benchmarkingconference.com. n

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Intellectual ProPerty awareness VItal to success In 3D PrIntIng The molder should always ask two questions: Where did the shape or digital information come from? How is it that the customer or other subcontractor has rights to that shape or information? by Roger A. Gilcrest Ice Miller LLP Roger Gilcrest is a partner with the law firm Ice Miller LLP and focuses his practice on developing worldwide intellectual property portfolios for both start-up and established companies, including formulating patent procurement strategies, obtaining domestic and foreign patents and negotiating technology license and acquisition agreements. Gilcrest represents a wide variety of companies in the injection molding and 3D printing industries. Ice Miller LLP serves the entire Midwest, with offices in Indianapolis, IN; Chicago, IL; DuPage County (suburban Chicago, IL); Columbus, OH; Cleveland, OH and Washington, DC. For more information, call 614.462.1055, email Roger.Gilcrest@icemiller.com or visit www.icemiller.com.


he increased use of three-dimensional (3D) printing for rapid prototyping has required injection molders to be vigilant to guard against unanticipated challenges to manufacture based upon copyrights. Three-dimensional printing not only has made rapid prototyping much more accurate and efficient, but it also has opened the door to production-finished 3D products. Like the explosion in copier technology in the 1970s and computer processing, storage and transmission technology in the 1990s, 3D printing now presents some of the same issues involving intellectual property rights, particularly copyrights and other design-related rights. 3D printing allows for the much more rapid capture of three-dimensional shapes, transmission of the print-guidance data and its final rendering into a polymeric threedimensional object. And, because the object may be expressed or re-expressed in digital form, it also permits the more rapid and effective combination and supplementation of three-dimensional shapes to produce objects incorporating shapes from different sources of various origins. Business interests for 3D printing companies are shifting toward the mass production of products for customers unfamiliar to the company. The customer’s competitors may be even more unfamiliar to the company. Accordingly, care should be taken to be sure that the company’s business interests are protected. Protection takes the form of the ability to produce a product free and clear of intellectual property liability.

Intellectual property laws affecting 3D printing Intellectual property (IP) law covers a relatively complex patchwork of largely invisible, intangible property rights that vary in what they cover and in how each may be created, owned, maintained (or lost), licensed and enforced. Patent rights are granted by the US Department of Commerce through the Patent Office upon application, which must be examined to be sure the invention merits patentability before the rights are granted. The most common industrial patents are utility patents that can cover (1) a process (which may include computer-driven processes like 3D printing itself or related post-printing finishing, assembly, etc.), (2) machines (such as devices that perform 3D printing, improvements to such machines or other apparatus for post-print processing, (3) articles of manufacture (such as the 3D-printed articles themselves, as originally printed or further finished through some inventive process) and

26 | plastics business • spring 2013


(4) compositions of matter (such as new compositions that may be used in the 3D printing itself or incorporated into the 3D-printed articles, such as blends of additives and reinforcements, surface treatments, etc.). Another less common patent – but one of potentially great importance to the world of 3D printing – is a design patent, which covers the aesthetic appearance of any useful article; essentially any useful article that presents an original shape that is not primarily functional. Design patents are therefore useful to protect the appearance of any useful article and are best used in situations where the aesthetic appearance of the article enhances desirability and marketability. Copyrights include a bundle of rights that allow the copyright holder to give permission to have a copyrighted work reproduced, displayed or form the basis of a work based upon it (called a “derivative work”). In the 3D printing context, copyrights can cover any work of art (such as the printed articles themselves, as sculptural works), or any twodimensional rendering of a three-dimensional shape that is a precursor of the printed article. In addition, because they are written works of authorship, copyright also can protect computer programs and data files that are written to guide or enhance the 3D printing process. The copyright can be very elusive because it is considered to be created immediately once the original work is first made. Registration is not required except to enforce the rights, and copyright rights last for many decades without loss. Trade secrets are based upon the right to prevent others from taking confidential information of commercial value. Trade secrets can cover almost any type of commercially valuable information, such as customer lists, pricing information, test data, etc., and in the 3D printing world is best applied to these types of information, as well as to programming instructions and data files used in 3D printing and any know-how relating to printing or post-processing or handling. These rights usually don’t affect 3D printing so long as no one along the way has misappropriated proprietary information. The shape of an article itself, once made public, loses trade secret protection. It is important to recognize that intellectual property rights are not exclusive. Any given process or product can embody or result from any number of these rights (e.g. utility or design patent rights, trade secret rights and copyrights). For instance, a 3D-printed article may be made on a machine patented by one company of a material composition that is patented by another company; but the article is in the shape

of a two- or three-dimensional work of art, the copyright of which is owned by still another company. Finally, trademark rights are symbolic rights that identify a company’s products or services. Most trademarks are words (MICHELIN of tires) or two-dimensional symbols (the NIKE Swoosh), but in some instances include threedimensional shapes or characters, such as the shape of a Porsche automobile or the Coca Cola bottle. Trademarks also are sometimes difficult to find because trademark rights exist once a mark is put in use and registration at the state or federal level, though beneficial, is not required. Trademarks may be printed or embossed on an article’s surface or may be incorporated into the article itself.

Due diligence for 3D printing Armed with this background, the injection molder that uses 3D printing as a prototyping tool should be aware that creating a shape from an existing article (or from renderings or computer files) should always start by playing defense. The molder should always ask two questions: Where did the shape or digital information come from? How page 28 u

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industry t page 27 is it that the customer or other subcontractor has rights to that shape or information? In addition, care should be taken to be sure the shape does not include words or symbols that might be third party trademarks. Some due diligence can be undertaken if the shape is to become a product in a market where the identities of other intellectual property rights can be anticipated. Patents can be searched by owner, inventor or subject matter. Trademarks can be searched within federal and some state registration systems’ online databases and trademark searching companies can more thoroughly check for unregistered marks.


Responses to proposals and negotiations, especially between previously unfamiliar parties, should go hand-in-hand with diligent investigation of the nature of the technology to be applied, its source and the third parties involved or that might become involved.

If potential intellectual property rights are identified, the injection molder and/or the customer can consider whether it is possible to design around those rights before advancing


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production. One of the benefits of 3D printing is that redesign efforts can be undertaken (and approved from both a legal and market satisfaction standpoint) with relatively little expense at the prototype before an injection mold is cut and assembled. The terms and conditions in most contracts deal with the standard nuts-and-bolts aspects of production, schedules, delivery and payment, as well as general warranties and representations. Injection molders need to be sure that representations as to the source of requested shapes and any knowledge of potentially blocking intellectual property rights or related disputes are disclosed. Warranties and holdharmless clauses or shared defense clauses should be used to apportion risk.

Preserving and protecting intellectual property rights Once the injection molder has taken steps to avoid infringing the rights of others, the next task is to be sure that the fruits of the molder’s research, development and creativity (and those of the customer) also are preserved and protected. The molder should have employees be aware of confidentiality practices within the company, as well as when other intellectual property rights are created and documented so timely filings can be made to preserve and best obtain and enforce these valuable rights. This helps the molder build a portfolio of rights that may be licensed to others, and even to be able to deal from a position of strength to gain access to the intellectual property rights or markets of others through cross-licensing or co-development joint ventures. Intellectual property issues concerning the ownership, control, sharing and enforcement of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets are rarely completely covered in terms and conditions contracts, but these should be included where the molder may benefit from the development and creativity efforts. The molder and the customer can agree to the ownership and future use or licensure of any intellectual property rights that might be of value beyond the first contract. Because intellectual property rights often may be interwoven within a given product or creative venture, a simple contract for producing a 3D-printed product may be fertile ground for legal conflict without the necessary care and forethought. Ownership or control of intellectual property rights can place the molder in the best position to be compensated for, and potentially to benefit from, future marketing of shaped articles, either through sales or licensing. In some printing scenarios (typically in longer-term relationships), it may

be advisable to provide contractual obligations that parties keep each other informed under confidence of on-going development efforts, so that they might cooperate to secure, apportion and license intellectual property rights to plan for their future exploitation. Understanding the nature of all forms of intellectual property – what they protect and how they are created and secured – allows a company to provide contractual terms and conditions to prevent accidental or intentional loss of rights, to avoid and/or defend infringement of third parties’ rights (and pursuit infringement by third parties) and to preserve the relationship between the parties before unanticipated developments forestall development of profitable ventures. Early due diligence, alertness to possible scenarios where intellectual property rights may be created or infringed and timely involvement of counsel and the design team are keys to the development of best practices for a successful 3D printing venture. Thoughtful standard terms and conditions, as well as more detailed contractual language tailored to specific situations of greater complexity, are the ounce of prevention easily worth a pound of cure. n

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Conair Develops Versatile, Space-Saving Granulators The new NCF Series super-tangential granulators from The Conair Group, Cranberry Township, PA, have at least 30 percent smaller footprint than many other granulators with similar capabilities. The cutting chamber configuration handles lightweight bulky parts, but also produces clean uniform granulate from runners and small parts. Different hopper designs and rotor/knife choices are available to maximize performance with a wide variety of scrap types. Four different models feature 8" diameter rotors, in widths of 10", 14", 19" and 24", and deliver standard maximum throughputs ranging from 150 to 450lbs. The smallest unit is powered by a 5hp motor and three larger sizes have 7.5hp motors, with options to 15hp. Standard rotor speed for the NCF 810 is 260rpm and up to 400rpm on larger models. A tilt-back hopper and drop-down screen cradle provide easy access to the cutting chamber for maintenance and cleaning. For more information, call 724.584.5500 or visit www.conairgroup.com.

IQMS Releases Latest Version of EnterpriseIQ, Forms Joint Venture with SolidWorks IQMS, an ERP software developer in Paso Robles, CA, has made more than 700 improvements and enhancements to the latest version of its EnterpriseIQ software, including an array of accounting features, enhanced user-defined form control for more software customization, increased assembly scheduling flexibility and the ability to incorporate the product configurator when parsing EDI-based sales orders automatically. IQMS also developed new ways to report production on the plant floor, and the WebDirect Vendor Labeling System can save IQMS customers time and money. In addition, IQMS has released a product data management addin for SolidWorks®. EnterpriseIQ now can be easily accessed from within SolidWorks for data consistency and secure document control. SolidWorks is an established CAD application with powerful 3D design capabilities. From the SolidWorks menu, users can link parts, tools and other assemblies, file details and configurations to create engineering change orders and cross-populate the inventory, bills of material, project management and preventative maintenance modules in EnterpriseIQ for increased productivity and elimination of data inconsistency. For more information, call 805.227.1122 or visit www.iqms.com.

30 | plastics business • spring 2013

Mokon Expands Temperature Range of Iceman Chillers The line of Iceman low temperature chillers from Mokon, Buffalo, NY, now is available with operating temperatures from -20 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and nominal capacities up to 12 tons in both air- and water-cooled condensing. The extreme low temperatures are ideal for jacketed vessels, reactors, laboratory, sanitary and other industrial applications. Iceman LT Series portable chillers feature a semi-hermetic discus compressor, providing superior energy efficiency, robust operation and easy maintenance. The LT Series comes standard with cylinder unloading/hot gas bypass used for capacity control, increasing the longevity of the compressor. The chillers are green-friendly, utilizing R-507 refrigerant, and come with a microprocessorbased controller that ensures stable, straight-line control for extreme accuracy. For more information, call 716.876.9951 or visit www.mokon.com.

PolyOne Offers Portfolio of Healthcare Solutions Regulatory-compliant healthcare solutions from PolyOne Corporation, an Avon Lake, OH-based provider of specialized polymer materials, services and solutions, help customers accelerate the development process for groundbreaking new products while improving operational efficiencies. OnColor™ HC Plus masterbatch colors are certified to USP Class VI standards and available for a variety of polymeric carriers. The Trilliant™ family of healthcare materials offers customized high-performance properties to meet a broad range of application-specific healthcare requirements. For example, Trilliant Sustainable Solutions, Structurally Reinforced Materials and Lubricated Solutions replace lead in X-ray devices, CT scanners and other medical imaging devices; replace metal to improve patient comfort and device ergonomics; and reduce wear and friction to increase medical device lifetime or improve quality perception, respectively. For more information, call 440.930.1000 or visit www.polyone.com.

Milacron Debuts New Multipurpose Midsize Machine Milacron, Batavia, OH, has developed a mid-size all-electric injection molding machine. The ELEKTRON is a versatile mid-size machine ideal for a broad range of markets, including medical, packaging, automotive and custom molding applications. Initially available in 400 and 500 tonnages, the ELEKTRON line will include 600- and 725-ton models later in the year. Adapted with proven technology from smaller sizes previously available in Europe and Asia, the ELEKTRON delivers benefits including clean clamping, optimal operation, repeatability, sensitive mold protection and energy savings. The ELEKTRON features a completely new global guard format. It also has the Endura Touch control, which combines the functionality of the Endura II control with the easy-to-use interface of the Mosaic control. Endura Touch includes a user-friendly 15-inch touchscreen, an onboard energy monitor and standard core pull software, robot interface and pneumatic valve gate interface. For more information, call 513.536.2000 or visit www.milacron.com/elektron.

Maguire’s New Vacuum Dryer Provides TroubleFree Operations Maguire Products, Inc., Aston, PA, has developed a resin dryer that makes operation much simpler and more reliable, while providing substantial reductions in drying time and energy consumption in comparison with desiccant dryers. The Maguire® VBD™ Vacuum Dryer is a new-generation system that supersedes the LPD™ system, which already is in use around the world. The VDB forces moisture from within resin pellets and uses gravity to move material through vertically arranged stages of the drying process. The discharge of material from one stage to the next is controlled by slide-gate valves, eliminating moving parts, sealing gaskets and perforated screens. The first model in the system, VDB1000, has a throughput capability of up to 1,000lbs per hour. The unit is 16ft tall and has a footprint of 6.8x3.7ft. It can be configured for mounting on the shop floor or on a mezzanine. For more information, call 610.459.4300 or visit www.maguire.com.

DENSO Introduces Compact Industrial Robot Controller DENSO, Long Beach, CA, has introduced the world’s smallest industrial robot controller in the 3kW output class. The new DENSO RC8 controller is 60-percent smaller and 45-percent lighter than the company’s previous model. It has a footprint of only 12x18" and a height of only 3.75", saving valuable factory floor space and facilitating integration. The powerful, high-speed RC8 controller can communicate with over 100 different types of devices using DENSO’s ORiN™ open-resource interface networking system, a Microsoft Windowsbased graphical user interface reduces robot setup time and ISO and UL safety compliance allow global deployment. DENSO’s Wincaps III™ 3-D simulation software allows offline programming and remote monitoring of robot operation. For more information, call 888.476.2689 or visit www.densorobotics.com.

Sepro America Showcases S5 Line Cartesian Beam Robots The S5-15, part of the S5 Line Cartesian beam robots from Serpo America, Pittsburgh, PA, is the smallest model in a line of high-performance three-axis servo-driven robots for small- and mid-sized injection molding machines and applications requiring multiaxis, multi-function parts manipulation inside or outside the mold space. The line, which also includes the S25 and S35, comprise Sepro’s fifth generation of servo-driven beam robots. They feature longer strokes and larger payload capacities than previous generations. For more information, call 412.459.0450 or visit www.seproamerica.com.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 31


The View from 30 Feet:

Reducing the Maintenance Burden on Technicians Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now. When a highly skilled, highly compensated technician is performing machine set-up, it’s best not to interrupt that technician with minor maintenance issues. Interruptions can cause errors to be introduced, as well as adding both time and cost to the bottom line. That’s the premise Tom Boyd, president of Blow Molded Specialties in Pawtucket, RI, was working with when he encouraged Process Engineer Alex Soto, with support from Lead Process Technician Vinny Cordeiro, to train employees to perform routine maintenance. Other benefits – such as increased facility awareness and an improved culture – followed. “We were trying to make our set-up technicians as efficient as possible, and we knew there were other people in our facility who could be involved in the machinery in a lesser role,” said Boyd. “These people could learn to do preventative maintenance or make certain equipment adjustments, which would keep our technicians focused on the more complicated jobs.” A TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) certification program would accomplish that goal, while also allowing company employees to advance in their careers. Soto created the curriculum, and Boyd says there’s no magic involved. “You have to figure out what you want the people to know, and then adapt and adjust as you work people through the program,” he explained. At Blow Molded Specialties, a 2-hour program introduces the idea of the certification to interested employees, and a basic screening test follows to be sure the employees have a level of knowledge that allows

32 | plastics business • spring 2013

them to successfully enter the program. Employees that qualify are advanced into a 4-tier training system. The first level encompasses systems knowledge, beginning with machinery terminology and an understanding of the systems themselves, including an awareness of the air, cooling tower, pneumatics, hydraulics, etc. Level 1 totals eight hours of instruction over four sessions and is completed in one month. Level 2 delves into machine safety, basic operation and simple maintenance. 5S also is addressed as it relates to the machine, along with further education in terms of downtime and causes so the employees understand how to report issues appropriately. Level 2 is comprised of 20 hours of instruction and takes 8-10 weeks to complete. Level 3 is hands-on maintenance, plus start-up and adjustment. The employees begin to put their hands on the machines, performing preventative maintenance under

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the eyes of experienced technicians. There are 40 hours of instruction time in Level 3, and it typically is completed over 3-4 months. Level 4 teaches the employees to make process adjustments, and the final stage of the process encompasses 50 hours of instruction over 4-5 months. The entire program is designed to be completed in one year. “There’s a test at end of each level,” explained Boyd. “If the employee passes the level, then that employee receives a 50cent pay increase at the end of each level so by the time the employee passes Level 4, there’s a total of $2 more per hour on his or her paycheck.” The program at Blow Molded Specialties started at the beginning of 2010. Three employees have completed the program, and two more are expected to be through Level 4 by the end of 2013. When the results so far are evaluated, Boyd estimates that six hours of technician time is saved each week by each of the Level 4 graduates, along with savings at the other levels, resulting in 23 hours of technician time saved each week.

Hours of Training

Time Allocated

Level 1

8 hours

1 month

Level 2

20 hours

8-10 weeks

Level 3

40 hours

3-4 months

Level 4

50 hours

4-5 months

“Our technicians are tickled by the program,” Boyd explained. “It’s such a frustration for them to have to stop what they’re doing for a minor issue when they’re trying to set up a machine expeditiously. It’s win/win all the way around.” Other benefits abound. Facility awareness has increased, as well as an increased sense among employees about what the company is trying to accomplish. “When we have our employee meetings, it enables a higher level of communication because awareness on the technical side has been enhanced,” said Boyd. “It also has a significant impact on the culture, there’s no question. It’s really enhanced our team spirit.” n

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 33


Medical Molding Benefits from Revalidation of Injection Molding Processes Using Universal Set-up Data I

n most injection molding applications, a mold is validated to run in a particular machine. Moving the mold to another press often is required for operational efficiency, but this usually requires revalidation. Depending on the application, revalidation can be very expensive. Costs include press time, material, engineering time, metrology and inspection, documentation and in the event of a failure, the costs of repeating the entire cycle. When all these costs are taken into account, it is not unusual for a revalidation effort to exceed $10,000.

by Bob Reese In many cases, these costs can be dramatically reduced through the use of universal RJG, Inc. set-up data. Bob Reese is the regional sales manager for the South Central US for RJG, Inc. and is an RJG-certified trainer. He has completed the RJG Master Molder™ Certification Program and the Train the Trainer Certification Program. With an extensive history in the industry, Reese designed and implemented robust repeatable processes to produce thin-walled plastic components and has done extensive machine testing to evaluate molding machines for accuracy and repeatability. For more information, call 231.947.3111 or visit www.rjginc.com.

Traditional revalidation cycle The traditional approach to revalidating a molding process closely follows the strategy for the initial process validation, and looks something like this: • Installation Qualification (IQ): In simple terms, demonstrating that the press and auxiliaries have been installed, calibrated and maintained properly • Operational Qualification (OQ): Here, a process is built on the new press, and process limits are defined. This often involves multiple trials and metrology. Designed Experiments frequently are used here (See the Design of Experiments article from the Fall 2012 issue of Plastics Business for more information). While the processing conditions from the original press are referenced, in many ways the process is rebuilt from scratch. • Performance Qualification (PQ): Parts are produced under normal production conditions to verify that the process consistently will produce acceptable product. A heightened level of part inspection generally is used to demonstrate part acceptability.

34 | plastics business • spring 2013


In the traditional revalidation cycle, the OQ and PQ both involve significant costs. It is important to note that parts from the PQ can be used for production once the revalidation is approved. However, if the revalidation fails, these parts must be scrapped, sorted or reworked, and the revalidation process starts over. This can add greatly to the cost of revalidation, making it even more important that steps be taken early to ensure success of the revalidation.

Revalidation using universal set-up data

• Press performance, such as load sensitivity and pressure response time, is sufficient. • Any material dryer should have appropriate residence time. • The mold temperature controller should have sufficient volumetric flow to ensure adequate cooling. By considering these factors as part of the IQ, the potential for successful transfer of the original process greatly is improved, and the risk of a costly revalidation failure is reduced.

Cooling Rate/Time: Revalidation of the process using universal set-up data differs Second, during the OQ, the original process is matched in The cooling rate is controlled by the temperature of the mold surface. The mold surface temperature can be terms of the Four Plastics Variables instead of trying to build in two ways from theduring traditional revalidation. First, during the temperature measured by breaking cycle production and quickly taking surface measurements using a a newprocess, process. The concept the suitability thesurface press for the givencan mold is analyzed. on the original then matched onisthesimple yet powerful: if the melt surfaceIQ, temperature probe.ofThe temperature be taken temperature, flow rate into the mold, plastic pressure in the For example, the following traits should be assessed: new press.

cavity and cooling rate are matched, the same part will be • The shot size should use 20 to 80 percent of the barrel’s capacity produced. This usually is much quicker and results in parts that The Universal Setup control Sheet of shot size, fill speed and melt consistency. more closely match the original process. Also, since the original to maintain • The clamp should be adjustable to within 10-20 percent of that process is matched, the need for a full OQ is eliminated. Instead, Four crushing Plastics Variables (Figureprocess 4). Using thisbesetup The universal setupfor sheet the process using the the original can duplicated and the original OQ required the documents mold to ensure full clamping without sheet, the process can be duplicated on another press. The universal setup sheet is created by converting the can be utilized. This greatly reduces the time and cost of the events. press settings from the original process into machine independent settings. Then the machine independent The should cover 2/3 oftothe betweenpress. the tie bars revalidation. settings• can bemold converted into settings be distance used on another to avoid excessive platen deflection. Note to that the PQ strategyOQ is unchanged from the traditional • the The injection unit should enough fill speed to match thenecessary transfer, it is not perform a separate Because process is being matchedhave during the mold revalidation. molds fillthetime requirement, and a first stage pressure greatertime when revalidating process on another press. This saves considerable and cost. The PQ provides assurance the part quality remains consistent. Again, if the revalidated process is approved, the parts than that required to fill the mold. made during the PQ can be accepted, and the most significant cost becomes Machine Machine B Machine A the additional inspection performed RI: _____ RI: _____ Independent during this stage. Screw Dia: ___ Screw Dia: ___ Settings

How it works: matching the four plastics variables The core of this revalidation strategy revolves around matching the Four Plastics Variables on any press the mold runs in, and documenting the process in machine independent terms. The Four Plastics Variables are as follows:

Plastic Temperature Barrel:____________ºC Back psi:________bar Recovery Speed:_____RPM

Melt:____________ºC Back psi:________pbar Recovery Time:_____sec

Barrel:____________ºC Back psi:________bar Recovery Speed:_____RPM

Plastic Flow rate Shotsize:_____mm


Transfer Position:_____mm Inj Speed:______mm/sec

Transfer Position:_____cu/cm Inj Speed:______cu/cm/sec

Pack Pressure:______barh

Pack Pressure:______pbar

Shotsize:_____mm Transfer Position:_____mm Inj Speed:______mm/sec

Fill Time:______sec Fill Only Part:______g

Plastic Pressure Pack Time:_________sec

Cooling Time:_________sec Coolant Temp:______ºc Coolant Flow:______GPM

Pack Time:_________sec

Plastic Cooling

Pack Pressure:______barh Pack Time:_________sec

Cooling Time:_________sec

Cooling Time:_________sec

Coolant Temp:______ºc

Mold Surface Temperature:______ºc

Coolant Flow:______GPM

4:The Themachine machine independent setup sheet (center) is used to duplicate the process Figure1: 1: Figure independent set-up sheet (center) is used to duplicate the process on on pressby bymatching matchingthe theFour FourPlastics Plastics Variables. another press Variables.

Melt Temperature: This is the temperature of the melt as it’s delivered from the injection unit into the mold. This can differ significantly from the barrel temperature settings. The best way to measure the melt temperature is with a melt probe inserted into a purge collected from a continuously running page 36 u

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strategies t page 35

Volumetric stroke data is calculated by multiplying the linear stroke data times the cross sectional area of the screw. This is used to measure the volumetric flow rate and the total volume of material delivered during injection. Hydraulic pressure is multiplied times the intensification ratio to calculate plastic pressure. The types of information contained in normalized stroke and hydraulic data are shown in Figure 5. This can be used in place of the universal setup sheet for many settings. However, melt temperature and cooling rate data must still be measured separately.

cycle. Newer low mass probes make this possible without preheating of the probe. Using the melt temperature from the original process, the barrel temperature settings on the new press can be adjusted to match the melt temperature. Flow Rate: In its simplest terms, matching the flow rate means putting the same volume of material in the cavity in the same amount of time. The easiest way to match the flow rate from the original process is by matching the fill-only part weight and fill time. The fill-only part is created by turning off 2nd stage (hold) pressure. The resulting shot should generally be 95-98 percent full and should match the size and weight of the fill-only part from the documented process. It can be useful to convert the linear shot size on the barrel to a volumetric measurement by multiplying it times the Figure containedininnormalized normalized stroke stroke andand An example example of some some of of the the information information contained 5: An Figure 2: cross sectional area of the screw. This also injection injection pressure data data can be done with linear injection speed to Cooling Rate/Time: The cooling rate is controlled by the convert it to volumetric fill speed. This can be used to closely temperature of the mold surface. The mold surface temperature match volumetric shot size and fill speed between presses. can be measured by breaking cycle during production and

quickly taking surface temperature measurements using a Plastic Pressure: After the cavity is full, it is pressurized In addition to the universaltosetup information, the normalized stroke injectiontemperature pressure data can contains surface temperature probe. Theandsurface be useful pack out the part. This is done during hold using stageresponse, information about2nd pressure in figureprocess __. It can be matched used to detect problems like pressure takenasonshown the original andalso then on the new press. or load sensitivity. pressure. While most molds do not havelimited cavityfilling pressure sensors to measure the exact pressure in the cavity, matching plastic The universal set-up sheet pressure inside the barrel usually is sufficient. While most The universal set-up sheet documents the process using the Four electric presses convert injection force directly into plastic Plastics Variables (see figure 1 on previous page). Using this setpressure in the barrel, on hydraulic presses the plastic pressure RJG, Inc. ~ 3111 Parkup Drive Traverse MI 49686 231-947-3111 on ~ another web: www.rjginc.com sheet, theCity process can~beph:duplicated press. The must usually be converted from the hydraulic pressure. universal set-up sheet is created by converting the press settings The first step in converting hydraulic pressure to plastic pressure requires calculation of the intensification ratio. The intensification ratio is the area of the injection cylinder divided by the area of the screw. This then is multiplied times the hydraulic pressure to calculate plastic pressure in the barrel.

from the original process into machine independent settings. Then the machine independent settings can be converted into settings to be used on another press. Because the process is being matched during the mold transfer, it is not necessary to perform a separate OQ when revalidating the process on another press. This saves considerable time and cost.

The 2nd stage plastic pressure from the original process is calculated from the hydraulic hold pressure setting used on the original press. Next, the plastic pressure is converted to the hydraulic pressure to be used for the hold pressure on the new press. This can be repeated for back pressure as well.

Normalize stroke and injection pressure data Much of the information contained in the universal set-up sheet is contained in normalized stroke and injection pressure data. This data is read from a stroke sensor that measures the position of the screw during injection and from a hydraulic sensor that

36 | plastics business • spring 2013


measures pressure in the injection cylinder. For electric presses, the data from the load cell on the screw is used. Volumetric stroke data is calculated by multiplying the linear stroke data times the cross-sectional area of the screw. This is used to measure the volumetric flow rate and the total volume of material delivered during injection. Hydraulic pressure is multiplied times the intensification ratio to calculate plastic pressure. The types of information contained in normalized stroke and hydraulic data are shown in Figure 2. This can be used in place of the universal set-up sheet for many settings. However, melt temperature and cooling rate data still must be measured separately. In addition to the universal set-up information, the normalized stroke and injection pressure data contains useful information about pressure response (the time it takes for 2nd stage pressure to reach a stable volume). The data can be used to detect problems like pressure limited filling or load sensitivity.

The role of in-cavity data For most molds, the universal set-up sheet, along with normalized stroke and injection pressure data, are sufficient for duplicating a

process on another press. However, for 10-20 percent of the most challenging molds, in-cavity data is needed to fully match the Four Plastics Variables and thereby match part quality. Two types of sensors are useful for gathering in cavity data. The cavity pressure sensor provides precise information regarding pressure and flow rate, as well as indirect indication of melt temperature and cooling rate. The cavity temperature sensor provides precise information regarding mold temperature and flow rate, as well as indirect indication of melt temperature. The cavity temperature sensor provides very little information regarding pressure inside the mold. Matching in-cavity data provides the greatest assurance of producing identical parts when a mold is moved between presses.

Summary A validation strategy based on universal set-up data and the Four Plastics Variables can greatly reduce the cost of revalidation and ensure more consistent part quality. These techniques have been used for years by some of the most respected device manufacturers in the world and have withstood the scrutiny of audits. n

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 37


The Top

Plastics Training Mistakes

by Craig Paulson, Paulson Training Programs

Plastics processors all are facing a growing shortage of skilled labor. Many of these companies are taking matters into their own hands and starting in-house training programs to ensure they will have a steady supply of skilled workers regardless of the labor pool. The “grow your own” approach is catching on. However, there are pitfalls to watch out for when developing a training program. The good news is that they can be easily avoided. If a training program fails, it rarely is because of the training materials themselves. It almost always is a problem with how the training is being implemented and managed day-to-day. With that in mind, here are the top 10 training mistakes that Paulson Training Programs has seen over the years.


Not training consistently Training is a “process”, not an “event”. Many companies confuse the idea of a formal training event or the on-going “learn from your mistakes” training program out on the injection molding, extrusion or blow molding production floor with a formal, structured training process. On-going training absolutely is critical to getting the most out of the time and money spent on training. Plastics processors that train personnel continuously outperform those that don’t. It makes sense. How much does the average person remember of high school algebra? But, if that person was given refresher training once a month, he would be quite competent. The same is true for injection molding skills, extrusion skills or any other expertise needed in a plastics manufacturing plant.


Acting too casual about training’s importance If employees do not understand the importance of an on-going training program, they won’t take it seriously. It becomes something to sit through, rather than something to learn from. The right attitude about the importance of the company’s training program has to start from the top, and it is much better to fully explain why the training program has been implemented rather that simply posting a training schedule. When people understand why they are doing something, they pay attention and get the most out of it. If the “why” is not explained to them, many will tune out.

38 | plastics business • spring 2013


Training too fast Learning does not happen overnight. The pace at which new information is delivered (especially to adult learners) makes a huge difference in knowledge retention. If a company tries to compress training into too short of a time frame, it defeats the purpose. It takes time for the brain to make new connections and move information from short-term to long-term memory. There is no rush and in fact, rushing through training with all but the most motivated adult learners will result in frustration.


Relying solely on in-house training resources This training mistake falls into the “But my business is different” category. If a company feels it must develop all of its training in-house, it probably is wasting time and money. There is plenty of foundational knowledge needed in every plastics process that can be taught with standardized training.


Not properly training new hires Newly hired employees who have little or no experience in injection molding naturally will feel a little intimidated by the production floor. Big machines, lots of noise, potential dangers seen by the uninitiated… the list goes on. By giving new hires entry-level training in injection molding, their ability to be both productive right out of the gate and a safer employee is greatly enhanced. Safety training is so important for all plastics manufacturing processes that

Paulson recommends that everyone go through recurrent safety training on a monthly basis.


Making assumptions about what training is needed There is foundational training that should be taken by all employees. However, beyond that, training paths for various employees may diverge to a certain extent. It is very important to maximize the efficiency of a plastics processing training program. A common method of determining what training is needed is through a Needs Assessment (sometimes also called a GAP Analysis). This is a series of questions about injection molding, extrusion, blow molding – whatever processing being performed at the plant. The employee’s answers are analyzed and with this information, target training can be developed specifically for each employee.


Misunderstanding how adults learn In many cases, employees will have been out of school for months or years, and they are out of “learning”

mode. School is an intensive learning environment. A person is in class for a few hours at a time, several days a week. Their brain is trained to learn. Once out in the workforce, formal learning tapers off. If the same teaching techniques that are typically used in schools are applied to the work environment, they will not be as effective. Adult learners need small doses of information. They also need to apply that information to the real world to reinforce what they’ve learned.


Not having a good training administrator An individual with an advanced degree is not needed to administer a training program. If a company is using self-paced interactive training, the lesson already is designed to maximize information retention. A training administrator should be a well-organized individual who can create training schedules, assign the right training to the right people, make sure that training is being taken, evaluate each employee’s training records to find any problem areas and be approachable and trusted by the other employees in the plant.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 39

management t page 39


Not tracking training progress by employee “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is a good rule-of-thumb when it comes to training programs. Make sure mechanism is in place to track how each employee is doing. This lets the employees see for themselves the progress being made and also lets them see what areas of knowledge and skills they need additional development.


Not tracking how training benefits the plant When management can look at the numbers and see the impact of the training on key production metrics for an injection molding plant (faster cycle times, fewer rejects, less downtime, fewer accidents, etc.), it becomes easier to justify and the training system is more easily integrated into the overall production process. Seeing is believing, and proof

of the impact that training is having on operations sends a powerful message that training works. n Craig Paulson is the president and co-founder of Paulson Training Programs, Inc. Headquartered in Chester, CT, Paulson Training Programs provides a broad range of inplant interactive courses, machine simulation, worldwide e-learning solutions and Paulson expert-led seminars to help injection molders, extrusion companies, blow molders, part designers and many other plastics professionals in the industry grow and compete on a global scale. Paulson’s goal is to provide convenient, high-quality and affordable training solutions to the plastics industry while utilizing the latest training technology and methods. For more information, call 800.826.1901 or email info@paulsontraining.com.

Blended Learning: The Best of Both Worlds for Busy Professionals by Chuck Zona, Hooke College of Applied Sciences Busy scientists and technicians always are seeking new ways to make the best use of their time. When it comes to pursuing specialized education, it makes sense that blended learning programs are becoming a popular choice. Blended learning – an approach that combines online education with inperson classroom time – is on the rise in today’s education market because it allows students to establish a solid base of knowledge on new concepts before coming to class. Then, when they begin the hands-on portion of the course, they’re able to take full advantage of laboratory time with expert teachers and high-tech instrumentation. “Professionals tend to find that blended learning is easier to fit into their schedule than traditional classroom-only education,” said Tom Van Howe, Jr., an instructor with the Hooke College of Applied Sciences in Westmont, IL. “Students can complete the web-based modules on their own time so that they can best utilize their time in the teaching lab.”

Prior to the hands-on portion of a course, students in a blended learning program access introductory materials on the web and communicate online with fellow students and instructors to ensure they fully understand the premise of the course, Van Howe explains. The classroom portion of the course allows students to receive instruction from a subject-matter expert while practicing skills and methods in a hands-on environment. In most traditional training programs, learning ends when class is dismissed. But blended programs further enhance learning with post-course activities that help reinforce new concepts and practices. For example, web-based follow-up material provides students with real-world scenarios that they can explore on their own time, using their workplace equipment. In addition, post-course sessions facilitated by the instructor allow students with little experience to build confidence, while those with more experience can share insights with

40 | plastics business • spring 2013

their less-experienced colleagues. Students exchange ideas, techniques and approaches to problems, and delve into additional subjects not discussed during the course. Students also begin self-directed learning and inquiry, reinforcing ideas and skills from class. The greatest challenge of a successful post-course learning program is getting students to continue their participation in the face of everyday work demands, Van Howe said. But for those who do participate, the sessions become yet another valuable aspect that makes blended learning a highly effective approach to scientific training. Chuck Zona is the vice president and dean of Hooke College of Applied Sciences, a microscopy training center based in Westmont, IL. He designed and implemented the blended learning program at Hooke College. To learn more, call 630.887.7100 or visit www.hookecollege.com.

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Get Involved in Your Community The donations you make should have specific and well-articulated benefits associated with your contribution.

by Dianna Brodine


hances are your business has been asked to donate to local charity events and activities. Chances are your business has received a lot of those requests. Nonprofit organizations, by definition, have to run a very tight financial ship, and one way to cut budget costs is to solicit donations of cold, hard cash or in-kind services. With the decline of available grant money and the increased costs of doing business, it’s unlikely that the pile of requests from local nonprofit organizations will get smaller. But why should your business get involved? Four years of my working life were spent in development departments for nonprofit organizations. The majority of my time was given to writing letters, making phone calls and visiting local businesses that could contribute financially or through inkind services. During each contact, I stressed the ways our shared community would be improved. The business in question usually focused on the tax benefits. The challenge (although I did my best) was showing the business owner that it’s not just the local charity that benefits from a contribution. There also are benefits for your business when you become involved in your community.

Take advantage of publicity The most obvious benefit to your business is the free publicity that comes with making a donation. It’s marketing in its simplest, and least expensive, form. You want potential customers to know about your business. Potential customers are looking for your service. Publicity brings the two together. Yes, selling plastics processing services is more complicated than it is for the typical retail store looking for a $15 sale… but your business won’t thrive if the people who need your services don’t know you exist. The donations you make should have specific and well-articulated benefits associated with your contribution. Ask the group proposing the donation what publicity will be included. Questions you should ask include the following: • Will your logo be placed prominently at the event (for example: on posters or t-shirts) or on other visual publicity generated by the nonprofit? • Will your business be mentioned in the event press releases? • Will your organization be thanked in the nonprofit newsletter or on its website? If you’re listed on the nonprofit website, can a link be added to your business site?

42 | plastics business • spring 2013

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• During the event, is there a location that would be appropriate for displaying your business banner? • What hands-on opportunities are available for your business to participate in during the actual event? Don’t underestimate the value of your presence. Television and newspaper media often are present at these events, as are potential customers. Don’t be afraid to send out your own press release. Often, information from well-respected businesses is received with more enthusiasm by the local press than that received from a charity organization.

Say hello to new customers Media publicity is not the only benefit for your business. The networking opportunities can be priceless. Nonprofit organizations often have an extensive board of directors made up of top management from local businesses. Take advantage of the chance to shake hands and talk about the services your business offers. Don’t forget about possible business partner connections. Is there a local prospect that you’d love to work with but haven’t been able to make a connection? Working together successfully on a project for a nonprofit organization is an easy way to sell your capabilities, efficiency and expertise to a potential partner. This may sound rather calculated. After all, isn’t giving to charity supposed to be about finding the most deserving organization? Not necessarily. It’s not unreasonable to make charitable contribution decisions based on which organizations have connections that could benefit your business. After all, it’s your dollar that is on the table. You have the right to decide where it will be most effectively spent.

Create warm fuzzy feelings As a business owner, you are in a position to affect positive change for the community in which you live. Adding your name to its roster of supporters could give a nonprofit just the lift it needs to make an event a success. The money or services you contribute could make a significant difference in the life of someone in your hometown. I often was amazed by the number of people who didn’t understand that their donation, no matter how small, made a big difference when it was added to what others had given. That warm, fuzzy feeling doesn’t stop with you. Your employees will feel it too. A project for a local charity often is a welcome break for employees who are looking for a personal connection to the work they’re doing. And, although it may seem unlikely, your employees could be receiving some of the services provided by local nonprofits. Counseling services,

Your employees could be receiving some of the services provided by local nonprofits. Counseling services, local boys and girls clubs, programs for the elderly and food banks all are run by nonprofit organizations. The community members that you are benefiting through your contributions could be the same people you work with every day. local boys and girls clubs, programs for the elderly and food banks all are run by nonprofit organizations. The community members that you are benefiting through your contributions could be the same people you work with every day.

Choose wisely With the variety of requests that come through the door each year, it’s obvious that your business cannot support every organization. So, how do you decide which requests are worthy of your attention? The first step is to determine a budget for annual contributions from your business. By setting aside funds specifically for that purpose, your ability to respond to donation requests is already predetermined. Your business also should create guidelines for which types of organizations you will support and the value of the service you are willing to provide. Finding out what other local businesses are contributing to a particular event could make it easier for you to decide if you will be participating. Are any of your competitors contributing to the same event? Do you want to avoid events that put your names together, or do you want to emphasize your involvement as well? There’s no right answer to that question – it’s just one more thing to take into consideration. Getting your employees involved also could be an effective solution. Ask your employees to make recommendations about which projects are a fit for your business. Form an employee committee to make the final decision. Or create an employee committee for evaluation purposes and get those donation requests off of your desk altogether! Making a contribution to a nonprofit organization is a personal decision, but the next time your business receives an invitation to become involved in a community event, remember the good that you’ll do, not only for them but also for you. n

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ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. ...............................................................................www.thebestpurge.com........................................................................Inside Front Cover Beaumont Technologies, Inc. ..................................................................................www.beaumontinc.com ................................................................................................. 17 Chase Plastics...........................................................................................................www.chaseplastics.com ................................................................................................. 11 Chem-Trend .............................................................................................................www.chemtrend.com ............................................................................................... 24, 25 Conair.......................................................................................................................www.conairgroup.com .................................................................................... Back Cover Federated Insurance .................................................................................................www.federatedinsurance.com ........................................................................................ 37 Frigel ........................................................................................................................www.frigel.com ............................................................................................................. 27 Harbour Results, Inc. ...............................................................................................www.harbourresults.com ............................................................................................... 12 Ice Miller LLP..........................................................................................................www.icemiller.com ........................................................................................................ 18 INCOE Corporation .................................................................................................www.incoe.com ............................................................................................................... 5 IQMS........................................................................................................................www.iqms.com ................................................................................................................ 3 Jade Group International ..........................................................................................www.jademolds.com............................................................................ Inside Back Cover M. Holland ...............................................................................................................www.mholland.com ....................................................................................................... 15 MAPP (Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors) ...................................www.mappinc.com ........................................................................................................ 46 Milacron Plastics Technologies ...............................................................................www.milacron.com/servohybrid.................................................................................... 33 Paulson Training Programs, Inc...............................................................................www.paulsontraining.com ............................................................................................. 39 PLASTEC East ........................................................................................................www.plasteceast.com..................................................................................................... 44 RJG, Inc. ..................................................................................................................www.rjginc.com/training ............................................................................................... 43 SIGMA Plastics Services, Inc. .................................................................................www.3dsigma.com ........................................................................................................ 41 Slide Products, Inc. ..................................................................................................www.slideproducts.com................................................................................................. 29 Stout Risius Ross (SRR) ..........................................................................................www.srr.com .................................................................................................................. 10 Strategic Marketing Partners (SMP) ........................................................................www.smp4mfg.com ....................................................................................................... 28 Time Compression LLC ..........................................................................................www.timecompressionllc.com....................................................................................... 29 ToolingDocs ............................................................................................................www.toolingdocs.com ................................................................................................... 21 Ultra Purge/Moulds Plus International ....................................................................www.ultrapurge.com........................................................................................................ 7 Yushin America, Inc. ...............................................................................................www.yushinamerica.com............................................................................................... 19

46 | plastics business • spring 2013


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Plastics Business - Spring 2013  

Plastics Business - Spring 2013