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Plastics Business Spring 2014

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


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Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Contents

profile

8

industry

focus

26

42

features profile PTA Plastics: A Leading-Edge Product Laboratory ................................8 strategy OSHA Inspections: A Planning and Survival Guide ............................. 13

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

solutions Maintenance 2015: Is Google Glass the Future? ................................. 18

product ............................22

industry Could You be Uninsured, Underinsured – or Both? ............................. 26

association .......................30

view from 30 The View from 30 Feet: Cyber Fraud .................................................. 34

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

outlook 3D Printing Changes the Production and Tool Build Models ............... 36 focus Flight Delay in Vegas: How a Radar Malfunction led to a Conversation with some of the Newest Members of the Plastics Profession .............. 42

plasticsbusinessmag.com

4 | plastics business • spring 2014


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director’s letter

Are You Loading Chickens? Just recently, I visited a well-known fast food restaurant to grab a quick lunch; at least, that was my intention. As I entered the establishment, I noticed a relatively small line of people who seemed both perplexed and frustrated as they waited to place their food orders. As I took my place in queue, I discovered the reason for the frustrated looks. As time increased, the line increased as well; remarkably, customers using the drive-through service were leaving their cars and entering the restaurant to collect their food orders. As this was happening, the stress level of the seven employees behind the counter was growing at an exponential rate. They were bumping into each other, arguing in front of the customers, insulting each other and incorrectly handing off orders. Since I had nothing else to do, I looked for the root cause of the low-quality service. I noticed the major operational choke point – the point where the single “meat cutter” would remove a full bird from the oven and slice to order. Although qualified, it was apparent that her work capacity was outmatched by the volume of orders being placed. Making matters worse was the fact that she stubbornly disallowed any of her associates to help. I began to wonder: Where’s the manager? Where was the leader of the pack? Why wasn’t the person in charge taking action to fix the obviously broken process? The answer: He was loading chickens in the oven. He was so consumed with working “in” the business that he did not recognize that he actually was losing business. He was so consumed “in” the process of maintaining inventory levels that he literally couldn’t see the obvious. Good business leaders understand the value of working “on” the business rather than “in” the business; however, most also understand how easy it is to be consumed with the reality of meeting customer demands. Today’s rapid pace, overloading responsibilities and lean staffing levels often put working “in” the business far out of balance with working “on” the business for many leaders. As a small case in point, there existed a very easy remedy to this restaurant’s issue. Reallocating one employee to a second cutting station – the choke point – would have doubled output and dramatically reduced order to receive times for each customer. Restaurant employees actually tried to open the second station, but the infighting did not allow for the successful implementation of this idea. Although it may sound silly, ask yourself: Are you loading chickens in the oven as a leader, manager or influencer of people? Are you taking time to work “on” your operation instead of working “in” your operation? If you are, the fix is rather easy. Great leaders schedule time to work on the important matters because they understand that urgent matters will always outnumber the important. Just as the restaurant manager was focused on the urgency of ensuring proper levels of oven-roasted chickens, a brief step away from the urgent to focus on the important would have added to his bottom line! On Oct. 16-17, plastics manufacturing business leaders will gather for the 14th consecutive time in Indianapolis to work “ON” their businesses at the Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference. (Chickens are not allowed to attend!)

Troy Nix, Executive Director

6 | plastics business • spring 2014

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 Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Vice President Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Secretary Alan Rothenbuecher, ICE Miller LLP Bill Bartlett, First American Plastics/Quad, Inc. Tom Boyd, Blow Molded Specialties Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics Matt Groleau, RJG, Inc. Bob Holbrook, Viking Plastics Ed Holland, M. Holland Company James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Bob MacIntosh, Nicolet Plastics, Inc. Glenn Nowak, IQMS John Passanisi, PRD, Inc. Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Scott Titzer, Infinity CleanRoom Solutions 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 Editors Jen Clark

Art Director Eric J. Carter

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


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profile

A Leading-Edge Product Laboratory

by Dianna Brodine

P

TA Plastics, with locations in Oxford, CT, and Longmont, CO, is celebrating its 60th year in business. Opened in December of 1953 as Plastic Tooling Aids Laboratory Incorporated, the company trademarked the name PTA Prototype shortly after. From the Princess telephone to the first Xerox copier to working with Steve Jobs on Apple Inc.’s first Macintosh computer to its current work with all three of the leading eye surgery equipment providers, PTA Plastics has spent the last six decades at the forefront of plastics innovation.

Innovating from the start It was PTA’s vision to be a company that provided its customers with a ‘laboratory’ of sorts to provide a tangible representation of their design prior to making a final commitment to production. In the earliest days, the company’s focus was to build models of parts that ultimately would be produced in plastic utilizing injection molding. These models were produced using poured epoxy or by machining or fabricating basic stock shapes in a limited selection of acrylics and ABS. By the mid-50’s, PTA was producing models using epoxy tooling and lowtemperature polymers that were poured into an epoxy mold and clamped shut while the polymer solidified. Once cured, the part was removed before going through

8 | plastics business • spring 2014


profile

various processes of secondary machining and painting. The intent of these early models was to show the customer the visual impact of their parts’ external geometry. “The original owner was Peter Cherry,” said Rich Dorans, vice president of operations. “Peter had worked for General Electric in industrial design, but he had both an entrepreneurial drive and a desire to get things done a little quicker and a little better, so he started his own business in Connecticut.” “At that time,” explained Kent Seeley, vice president of sales and marketing, “there was a big gap between prototype phases and what ultimately was production. Peter knew he could change that.” In the late 1950s, PTA purchased its first Bridgeport milling machine, which later would become the work horse of the company’s mold building capabilities. PTA now was capable of machining molds in aluminum, which were more durable, more detailed and could produce hundreds of parts that were similar to those molded from true production molds. Customers used these parts for testing, material evaluations and gaining increased confidence in their design prior to committing to the final part design and the purchase of steel production tooling.

Along with PTA’s drive to be at the leading edge of the prototype process came a proliferation of new performance materials, allowing plastics to be used in applications thought only to be achievable in metals or thermoset resins. PTA developed intense and long-term relationships with most all of the chemical companies that were investing heavily in these new materials. “In some cases, the chemical companies would bring their ‘stealth’ material bags and technical personnel into our plants to give the new material formulations a real-world workout,” Seeley said. “The company developed expertise in running what would later become some of the most advanced polymers in the industry.”

Speed-to-market provides competitive edge “At that time, we were very well-known for being a good toolmaker and for getting product to market quickly,” Dorans said. “Speed-to-market was the most important thing, especially for the companies like Dell, Compaq and Apple that were constantly pushing out new models, because being first meant a bigger market share. Those companies came to us for the engineering feedback we were able to give, and then stayed because we were able to build our own molds and run the parts. It cut down on the amount of time needed from initial design to getting a product to the shelf.” In the early days, PTA didn’t have a sales force, but the company’s reputation provided all the promotion that was needed. “A lot of the engineers would jump around from company to page 10 u

Previous page: Engineers perform a print review for DFM. Above: PTA’s production orders include (left to right) a stock broker trading phone with soft-touch paint requirements; a non-invasive cardiac support pump with insert molding and over molding; and a highly aesthetic blood analysis machine for veterinarians.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 9


profile t page 9

The molding floor in the Connecticut is one of two production facilities for PTA.

company, and our relationship moved with them,” Dorans said. “That’s still where a good portion of our business comes from, which is the ultimate compliment for a company,” Seeley said. We have a very heavy focus on upfront engineering support and design for manufacturability. Our customers are creating cutting-edge products, and we’re helping them get into the marketplace days, weeks and months earlier than the competition. That is highly valued and keeps our customers coming back.” The company’s resume for “cutting edge” is impressive. Early work included the Princess telephone, the development of the first Xerox telecopiers, the eight-track audio tape cartridge and the early four-function calculators. The first Apple Mac was created at PTA, and Steve Jobs himself came to the Colorado facility with his crew of engineers. This marked the start of many development jobs for Apple as the years progressed. The SGI computers used to create very high-end graphics, such as those used in the movie industry, were produced at PTA, as was the first use of plastics in the leading edge of an aircraft for Boeing. More recently, the company has cornered the eye surgery market with the top three equipment manufacturers – Abbot Medical Optics, Alcon Surgical and Bausch and Lomb. Today, PTA’s business is comprised of 70-percent medical (durables) and 25-percent military/defense. Most of the injection molded parts PTA produces require a very high

10 | plastics business • spring 2014

A multi-plate mold has several internal and floating actions for a portable patient monitor.

level of quality and aesthetics as they appear on the outside of the end product. PTA specializes in low- to medium-volume production molding, with a sweet spot between 2,500 and 30,000 parts per year. Ninety-five percent of the company’s 30 presses are less than 10 years old, ranging from 30 ton to 1375 ton. As the molded products that PTA produces are used outside of the human body, the company does not have a clean room, but it is ISO 9001:2008-certified, complies with ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and holds a FFL type 7 (Federal firearms license). Additionally, PTA plans to be ISO 13485-certified in the very near future.

Investment in toolmaking offsets China threat PTA has had in-house tooling since its inception, believing that it was important to maintain control of the entire production process for its customers. That capability became a critical advantage when OEMs began to send tooling to China as a cost reduction measure. In 2001, PTA invested nearly a million dollars in its tooling infrastructure to reduce lead times and to help reduce tooling costs through speed and automation. Since then PTA has added and replaced four CNC machining centers using a combination of Mori Seiki and Makino machinery. Dorans explained, “We knew that price was the main reason people were moving molds overseas, and the only way we could offset that was with technology that could run unattended without an operator. That also reduces our lead time, and when you’re taking labor and time out of something, you’re also taking cost out. We couldn’t reduce our prices to China levels, but at that point, it was up to us to sell the landed costs to our customers.”


profile

“Having tooling and molding in-house allows for early collaboration between tooling and molding,” Seeley said. “Both departments work together from the quoting stage through product realization to ensure the tooling approach matches the requirements of ongoing production, and our customers benefit from tooling guarantees that align with the life of the project.”

“Other people were giving up and running offshore for mold production, so we wanted to take advantage of that new space in the market. We were successful by adding technology and making a significant investment in our tooling.”

In-house tooling also greatly reduces the transition time between initial sampling and validation of every tool since the molds do not have to leave PTA’s facilities. “Many of our customers have a standard validation process for PTA to follow, which includes various levels of capability studies. There also are a multitude of critical and tight dimensions requiring metal-safe conditions in the mold, and we can meet those requirements without the mold leaving the plant,” Seeley explained. “Having in-house tooling allows for a quickly expedited process.” PTA’s intimate knowledge of its customers, their products and their processes gave the company confidence that there still was a space domestically for US tool-building capabilities. It is not untypical for the company’s customers to make changes four to five times throughout the tool design process. In addition, the products PTA was producing had to be highly aesthetic. “If there were design flaws, the Chinese toolbuilders still would build the tool exactly to plan,” said Dorans. “Our medical customers couldn’t afford to add those tool rebuild costs into the cost of the project, so of those customers that we lost initially to offshore production, 85-90 percent of them came back. They realized that the total landed cost ended up being more.”

“Other people were giving up and running offshore for mold production, so we wanted to take advantage of that new space in the market,” Seeley said. “We were successful by adding technology and making a significant investment in our tooling.” PTA continues to see a migration back to the US for tooling and molding in its niche markets. Lead times still are the number one selling feature for its customers, and PTA excels on this front. “Additionally, we are seeing quite a bit of activity related to the military/defense market where ITAR or an FFL is required to produce mold and molded parts,” said Seeley. “The tooling and molding are required to remain

– Kent Seeley, PTA Plastics

MAPP Qtr pg vert domestic for national security purposes, and the customers x 4.875” require a higher level of up-front engineering. 3.75” The result will be further penetration into one of our main market segments.” page 12 u

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profile t page 11 An employee-owned company The addition of a second location was planned in the late 1960s, although the original destination wasn’t Colorado. “Peter was on his way to California to start an operation,” said Seeley, “but he stopped in Colorado and never left. The story is that he said if the West Coast customers wanted to use us, they would travel the 1,000 miles to Colorado!” Another facility had been located in Illinois, but much of the work was overflow molding from the Connecticut plant. In the late 1990s, the Connecticut facility moved into a new, larger building, and the Illinois operation was closed. “The timing was perfect because our Illinois employees were moving on and able to find other jobs,” said Dorans. A number of them, including Dorans, moved to Colorado or Connecticut to continue working with the company. Currently, PTA has 18 engineers, 32 tooling staff, 100 molding employees, 18 quality personnel and 32 administrative and sales staff between the Oxford, CT, and Longmont, CO facilities. PTA’s first employee in 1954 was Ray Seeley Sr., and his son, Ray Jr., is the current president and CEO, but the company’s future is in the hands of its 200 employees. On Feb. 29, 2012, PTA became an Employee Owned Company. “Ray Jr. wanted to be sure the spirit of PTA would stay the same when it came time for him to step down,” explained Dorans. “There are other options from a financial side that may have been better for him, but the bottom line is he didn’t want to break up everything he helped to build. That’s a testament to him.” The employee stock ownership plan allows for business continuity and provides a path to continue growing the company while maintaining the core values that are PTA’s foundation. “It’s been a win/win for both Ray Jr. and for the employees because now the employees are employee/owners and anything they do can drive up the shares of the company,” Dorans said. “There’s more incentive to take the extra step to be part of something special.”

12 | plastics business • spring 2014

Breaking the rules PTA prides itself on offering the complete package to its customers, from prototype design to full production. “The level of up-front engineering support we provide is a key selling point for our customers,” Seeley said. “By spending the time at the beginning to ensure the part not only is toolable, but also moldable, we often can significantly reduce the amount of time between first shots and production.” During a typical Design for Manufacturability (DFM) review, engineers will review the aesthetic requirements, assist in offering suggestions for modification, assess metal conditions within the tool to contribute to tool longevity and repeatability and perform a mold flow analysis. “The time spent up front ensures that the first shots off the molds are as near to production quality as possible,” Seeley explained. “This, in addition to in-house tooling and a plethora of post-molding operations (including assembly, inserting, pad printing and machining) keeps our customers coming back project after project.” PTA also has found that early involvement in DFM pays other dividends. “Quite often, we’re involved with the industrial design firm that works with the OEM,” said Dorans. “We work with them on wall thicknesses and actions to drive the tooling costs down. When a mechanical engineer looks like a hero to the OEM, that’s fine by us because the next time he has a program, he’ll call again!” Even after six decades, speed-to-market is one of the critical advantages PTA offers to its customers. In the very competitive military and medical markets, PTA’s close design relationship with its customers allows product development to be at the forefront of every project. “Most of us are aware that there are a set of cardinal rules from a plastics design perspective,” Seeley explained. “When we work hand-in-hand with our customers, a large part of our job is to allow them to break as many rules as possible and still achieve the perfect end result.” n


strategy

OSHA Inspections:

a Planning and Survival Guide

O

SHA inspections can add a level of stress and frustration to any workplace. Be prepared with this information from ICE Miller LLP.

How does OSHA arrive at your workplace? The worst possible way is that you have had a death or hospitalization of three or more employees. You have to report the incident within eight hours to OSHA. The less drastic and dramatic ways that OSHA may be at your door include the following: • National, regional or state plan emphasis programs. The plastics industry is currently the subject of an isocyanate national emphasis program. Emphasis programs can address chemical exposures and/or workplace processes. • Poor health or safety statistics for your facility. • News reports of an accident or injury. • A programmed inspection, which may fall under any of several special emphasis programs. • A complaint filed by an employee, doctor or EMT. Complaints often occur when a disgruntled employee is terminated. Other complaints arise during union negotiations or union organizational efforts. There is nothing that a company can do to stop OSHA from commencing an investigation. There are things that can be done which can assist in avoiding an OSHA inspection. page 14 u

by Felix C. “Pete” Wade, Ice Miller LLP Felix C. “Pete” Wade is a senior partner at Ice Miller, LLP in its Columbus office. Wade has been the past management chair of the ABA/ OSHA committee and currently serves on the planning committee for the annual meeting of the ABA/OSHA committee. He counsels businesses on OSHA compliance issues, negotiates settlements with the Agency and the Solicitor of Labor and litigates cases before Administrative Law Judges and the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. He can be reached at Ice Miller LLP, 250 West St., Columbus, OH 43215, by phone at 614.462.2276 or via email at Pete.Wade@icemiller.com.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 13


strategy t page 13

When you meet with a compliance officer, you want to find out if they are a safety specialist or an industrial hygienist. Both can recommend citations. How to best avoid an OSHA inspection. The best offense is a good defense. The best way to avoid OSHA inspections is to run a safe operation. How is that task most effectively done? • Designate a person responsible for safety. • Have a safety committee with specific functions.

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• • • • •

Audit safety practices and protections. Have a written safety program. Have safety rules. Do employee safety training. Document safety training for employees.

This process will insure that you know the regulations that apply to your workplace and that you follow them. An emphasis on safety with your employees and an effort to engage them in a safety culture results in lower injury and illness rate for employees. OSHA has proposed an injury and illness prevention program regulation. While this regulation may be unnecessary, OSHA provides a number of very beneficial tips on its website (www.osha.gov) for developing such a program on a voluntary basis.

What to do if OSHA appears. No one likes to receive a call from reception that an OSHA inspector is waiting in the lobby. As attorneys for businesses, we like to know as early as possible that our clients are in the middle of an OSHA inspection. A call to counsel while the compliance officer is waiting makes certain that counsel will be available to answer questions as an inspection progresses. A company does have a right to refuse entrance to its facility unless OSHA has a court-issued warrant. It is almost never beneficial to insist on a warrant. OSHA will get a warrant, and fighting a warrant that is properly issued runs up legal costs unnecessarily. More importantly, you do have a right to know why the investigation is taking place. This occurs in the opening conference with the compliance officer. When you meet with a compliance officer, you want to find out if they are a safety specialist or an industrial hygienist. Both can recommend citations. You probably will get a hint as to the focus of the investigation if you have drawn a hygienist. You are entitled to ask why they are present. They should tell you that their inspection is pursuant to a complaint or is part of some programmed inspection. If the compliance officer wants to look at OSHA logs showing your accidents and illnesses, do this first. They also may want to review your hazard communication or other written plans. If this is a complaint inspection, make sure that you accompany the inspector to the area where the complaint arose. This can involve driving the inspector around the building through a loading dock or entrance closest to the complaint area. If a compliance officer sees violations on his way to an area that page 16 u


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strategy t page 14 is the subject of a complaint, he will cite those violations. Therefore, providing the least access to your facility in a complaint inspection is recommended. If the inspection is a general “wall to wall inspection,” make sure to have the same person with the compliance officer at all times. In all inspections, what you say can and will be used against you. If you are asked questions and are unsure of the correct answer, say that you will check with the people who know best and get back with the compliance officer. If you are asked for documents, ask the compliance officer to provide you a list at the close of the inspection and you will collect them. Give them to OSHA with each page numbered so you know what OSHA has received. If OSHA asks to speak with employees, set up a conference room so that they are not distracted in production areas. Advise employees that they do not have to talk with OSHA, but that you have no objection. Tell them that they should not sign anything where the OSHA inspector puts words in their mouths. Make

sure you tell them to tell the truth and that they should get a copy of any statement they may sign and give to OSHA. Make certain that you and your supervisors tell the truth. Citations may or may not be issued. OSHA’s most serious penalties – its criminal penalties – are only available where there has been an industrial death or where individuals have been untruthful. Therefore, it is very important to be very specific and factual in your responses to OSHA. Giving yourself time to collect information and documents assists in ensuring that you are answering the right questions in a truthful manner. Following the compliance officer’s inspection, he or she will conduct a closing conference. He or she will tell you their initial thoughts on what they have seen. Thereafter, the compliance officer will file a report with the OSHA Area Director, who will issue any citations that they believe to be appropriate. Do not think that a citation is the end of the world. There are multiple means for reducing or eliminating the citations through informal settlement discussions or in litigation. OSHA’s procedures postcitation are the subject of another article. n

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Maintenance 2015: Is Google Glass the Future? G

oogle Glass is piece of wearable electronics, integrating a camera, headsup display, touch pad, speaker and microphone. Essentially, it’s a computer weighing little more than a regular pair of safety glasses, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication. The Glass wearer can communicate with the Glass using voice commands and tap gestures on the touch pad. Glass communicates to the user with a bone-conducting speaker and a heads-up display positioned above the right eye. Using the camera, the wearer can take photos and record video and send to friends and colleagues. It’s a wearable smartphone.

Facilities maintenance of the future

How will your maintenance manager complete their work orders in two years time? Google Glass is one highly probable answer. Google Glass provides a great opportunity to revolutionize the way technicians interact with facilities maintenance software. When fitted with a protective lens, maintenance technicians will be able to directly substitute Google Glass for their regular safety glasses. But, there is much more to this technology than some expensive Personal Protective Equipment. Imagine the following scenario: There’s a PM due today on an air conditioning system. The technician checks what

by Jeffrey Dutschke, tools are needed: “Ok, Glass: Monthly PM 301, check tools list.” Glass pulls up a Maintenance Assistant list of standard tools available in the toolbox. “Great, let’s go to the system.” Jeffrey Dutschke is a product specialist and blogger at Maintenance Assistant Inc., a leading provider of innovative web-based CMMS. CMMS software is the ideal way to manage maintenance on assets such as facilities and equipment. For more information, visit www.maintenanceassistant.com.

Arriving at the air conditioning unit, the technician scans the QR code on the unit to access all open work on this asset. “Ok, Glass: PM 301, change status from ‘assigned’ to ‘work in progress,’ and bring up list of tasks.” The list of tasks is displayed in order on the heads-up display. The technician completes the tasks one at a time as per the standard checklist. Details such as schematics, bill of materials and safe operating procedures easily will be viewed if needed. During the PM, a major issue is spotted. Additional help is needed from a senior technician. “Ok, Glass: call Don Draper.” The technician works with the senior technician to resolve the issue using the onboard camera and phone.

18 | plastics business • spring 2014

page 20 u


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solutions t page 18

“Ok, Glass: PM 301, mark all tasks as ‘complete’. Change status from ‘work in progress’ to ‘closed’.”

voice-to-text function can be used to add text to the request. All of this is hands-free.

Consider the following ways in which Google Glass could be integrated.

The heads-up display on the Glass can be used to see and view new work orders as they arrive via CMMS. All Job Safety Analysis (JSA) quickly can be done at the site of the machine and photographs can be added. The JSA then can be forwarded to the supervisors for immediate digital sign-off.

See the plant from a different perspective

When an asset needs maintenance, a QR or bar code rapidly can be scanned with Glass to report its fault. The built-in camera can be used to record an image or video of the problem. The

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The camera can be used to help diagnose faults. For example, a high-speed process can be videoed and played back in slow motion. New employees can use the built-in map of the plant to help them navigate to the machine on which they will work. The functionality can be used to digitally sign into a machine and make it inoperative while it is under maintenance.

Quickly access information and communicate

Using Google Glass, QR codes on equipment can be scanned, linking directly to the equipment’s online maintenance history. A maintenance manual can be accessed instantly, including any videos that might assist with diagnostics or repair. An experienced technician could film a video as work was completed to use as later instruction for apprentices. Video and voice calls can be made without leaving the machine. The Google Hangout means multiple people can meet simultaneously – for instance, maintenance, production management, technicians and operators. Large equipment suppliers now have help desks with technical support via video link. Google Glass will allow an immediate view of the problem for their expert opinion.

Record and document

The QR or bar codes of any tools, consumables or parts used can be automatically recorded for inventory and tracking purposes.


solutions

Photographs can be taken of installation to ensure it was done properly, while at the same time uploading diagnostic data directly to the CMMS. Completion notes can be added using voice-to-text conversion.

How far away is this future?

Google Glass technology easily will integrate with the maintenance engineer’s day-to-day maintenance activities. No pen, laptop or tablet will be required to record maintenance activities; it will be done with speech-to-text recognition. Voice commands will become commonplace in facilities

maintenance when dedicated maintenance and repair applications are developed. Google Glass will go on general release in 2014, and innovative companies will be incorporating this device into their software plans. It would be reasonable to expect that dedicated apps will be available before the beginning of 2015. Technicians will love the freedom and flexibility provided by Google Glass. Engineers and accountants will appreciate the data it provides, and management will love the cost savings it delivers. n

Even after the sale, we’ll be with you every step of the way. When you invest in Yushin’s robot and automation equipment you can’t go wrong. Our commitment to ensure superior quality is shown through our use of lube-free bearings, lube-free belt drives, intuitive controls featuring predictive maintenance and preventative maintenance screens, along with onboard help functions including instructional set-up videos and manuals. Additionally, we offer preventative maintenance contracts from our service department. Together, these features for you mean:

More reliability, lasting quality, and higher profits. Discount for MAPP members: Place an order for traverse or sprue picker robots and choose between: - An additional one-year warranty on the purchase of a sprue picker, hybrid or servo robot - 50% off up to 3 seats of Flexible Teach Software training *Contact salesinfo@yushin.com for details

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


product

Milacron Offers Multipurpose AllElectric Injection Molding Machine

The Elektron, from Milacron, Batavia, OH, is an all-electric injection molding machine that uses 60-percent less energy and 90-percent less water than hydraulic injection molding machines. The mid-size machine is ideal for a broad range of markets, including medical, packaging, automotive and custom molding applications. Benefits include clean clamping, optimal operation, repeatability, sensitive mold protection and energy savings. It features Endura Touch control, which includes a userfriendly 15” touchscreen, an onboard energy monitor and standard core pull software, robot interface and pneumatic valve gate interface. The Elektron line includes 400-, 500- and 600-ton models. For more information, call 513.536.2000 or visit www.milacron.com/elektron.

PolyOne Develops HighPerformance Solutions for Auto Interiors PolyOne Corporation, Cleveland, OH, has introduced two new formulations for automotive interior surfaces and instrument panels. Both Geon™ VBX 3577, a vinyl powder for automotive interior surfaces, and Geon™ VBX 3600, a series for instrument panels with seamless airbags, can deliver cycle time reduction benefits. These allow processors to improve profitability while meeting tough low-temperature OEM performance requirements for slush-molded automotive interior parts. During trial testing versus existing materials, both solutions displayed a 15-percent reduction in cycle time and decreased energy costs, resulting in higher production efficiency. The new materials also provide up to 35-percent lower scrap rates by enhancing coating consistency, which reduces material bridging and part defects. For more information, call 866.765.9663 or visit www.polyone.com.

Dynamic Conveyor Develops Vertical Incline Conveyor The DynaCon conveyor, from Dynamic Conveyor, Muskegon, MI, is a 90-degree vertical incline conveyor that features space-saving design. The vertical incline conveyor is custom designed to fit desired height parameters and widths ranging from 4” to 60”. It also can include an optional hopper designed to meet desired parts conveying needs. Optional casters are available to make the system easy to move in and away from other equipment. For more information, call 800.640.6850 or visit www.dynamicconveyor.com.

22 | plastics business • spring 2014


product

IQMS Announces New IMS Company Enables Precise Software Release Temperature Control The latest version of EnterpriseIQ from IQMS, a Paso Robles, CA, ERP software and MES developer, now is available. The update contains nearly 550 enhancements ranging across all segments, including financial management, shop floor control, quality, EDI, inventory and warehouse management, CRM and supply chain management. Nearly 90 percent of the changes and enhancements to the software were suggested by IQMS manufacturers through the MyIQMS customer portal. A few of the features in the EnterpriseIQ update include an advanced warehouse management system, email tracking, business intelligence, inventory cost adjustment, production reporting, maintenance, repair and overhaul. For more information, call 866.367.3772 or visit www.iqms.com.

The IMS Hydra Water-Cooled Circulator from IMS Company, Chagrin Falls, OH, is a temperature control unit constructed to maximize operational lifespan and ease-of-use. Manufactured with durable components, the unit uses stainless steel for the majority of its build, including the one-horsepower pump and 14-gallon tank. The use of glycol in conjunction with this stainless steel temperature controller virtually eliminates rust and other long-term issues related to water use. In addition, the IMS Hydra temperature controller’s transparent polycarbonate cover protects the machines’ electronics from moisture damage and accidental tampering, while keeping its current status visible to the operator. It is available in two stock voltage options: 230/60/3 and 460/60/3. For more information, call 800.537.5375 or visit www.imscompany.com.

Conair TPC Makes Clean, Lathe-Like Cuts

Verstraete Develops Digitally Printed IML

Producers of small-diameter medical tubing now can automate cut-to-length operations and increase productivity without worrying about cut-quality or particulate contamination. The new traveling planetary cutter (TPC) from The Conair Group, Cranberry Township, PA, rotates around the tubing, gradually penetrating the wall to yield a precise, square cut without the shattering, whitening or distortion that commonly occurs with other cutting methods. Planetary cutting is not a new technology, but it has been used mainly in the manufacture of larger-diameter tubing and pipe. Today, however, it is possible to handle tubing as small as 0.080” in diameter, while holding cut-to-length tolerances of ±0.015”. Cutting speed and force are controlled by adjusting the rotational speed of the cutter head. Rotation is servo-controlled for precision. Guarding is made of clear polycarbonate, allowing for full observation of the cutting process. For more information, call 724.584.5500 or visit www.conairgroup.com.

Verstraete IML, a Belgium in-mold label manufacturer, has developed a digitally printed in-mold label that is produced at a low cost and with a short lead time. The use of MockUp IML labels allows a packaging producer to offer its customer samples of the final product; conduct shelf impact testing with different designs; promote stock lines with real artwork; and create customized samples. In addition, MockUp IML can be used for injection molding IML, blow molding IML and thermoforming IML. It is printed on standard IML film and fits the standard IML process. MockUp IML is not approved for food packaging and cannot be used to test pasteurization, high gloss, DoubleSided IML and Metallic IML (ink). For more information, call +32.50.301.301 or visit www.verstraete-iml.com. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 23


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Could You be Uninsured, Underinsured – or Both? by Mitchell Gorham, Federated Mutual Insurance Company Mitchell Gorham is account executive, Association Risk Management Services. He joined Federated Mutual Insurance Company in 2007 as a marketing representative in Indiana. He was promoted to ARMS account executive in 2011 and works with trade associations and buying groups in the states of Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Gorham’s experience in the insurance industry helps him support Federated’s affinity partners with value-added products and services for their members. For more information, visit www.federatedinsurance.com.

Y

ou just had a nice visit with your insurance agent, and you signed on the dotted line to renew your business insurance for another year. You can relax knowing your policy is in place, ready to cover you should you have a claim. Now, skip ahead a few months…

Claim #1 You get a large order, and the customer supplies the special mold needed to complete the job. The mold is worth $80,000. Then, the unthinkable happens. A fire destroys the machining area of your company and damages the customer’s mold beyond repair. To make matters worse, your insurance company says you’re not fully covered for losses involving property of others. Sure, your policy will handle claims up to $50,000, but this loss was for more than the policy limit. Put simply, you’re now paying $30,000 out-of-pocket to cover damages. By specifying higher limits on the policy declarations, you could have saved yourself a lot of grief.

Claim #2 Let’s say you know the fire hazards at your business and have taken steps to protect your property both through risk management measures and insurance. But, what about a risk you may not have even considered – theft. The metal in those dies you use is worth a lot of money to someone interested in scrapping them.

26 | plastics business • spring 2014

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industry t page 26 Naturally, you would expect your insurance company to cover you for this type of loss. But, did you know most commercial property insurances limit the amount that can be paid for loss or damage to patterns, dies, molds and forms when the damage is caused by theft? And, did you know that limit is only $2,500? That’s not going to help much when your claim is for thousands more than that. What if that stolen die belonged to someone else? Does your policy cover theft of property of others?

Don’t let your insurance policy leave you feeling exposed Unless your insurance company has set up higher limits for property of others or business personal property coverages, you run the risk of being underinsured for those exposures, which will become crystal clear after a major claim. The good news is that those types of risks can be found during an insurance audit. By asking the right questions, your insurance company can discover where your risks lie and then offer advice on adding coverage, if needed. Changes to your operations at any time should prompt you to request a policy review to find and close any coverage gaps. For example, Federated Mutual Insurance Company, MAPP’s recommended provider for property/casualty business insurance, supports association member clients with an Annual Client ReviewSM (ACR) to examine current levels of coverage. The ACR includes a discussion on very specific types of coverage, including property of others and business personal property. In the event of a claim, Federated assesses the covered items’ value and replacement costs to ensure the claim is paid properly. Finding out after a claim that you’re not adequately insured is not something any savvy business owner wants to experience. It is easy to increase your coverage limits to help prevent an unpleasant surprise after a claim. Imagine how much easier you could be sleeping tonight. n This article and the claims examples herein are for information purposes only and should not be considered legal or coverage advice. The recommendations presented may help reduce the risk of loss but are not guaranteed to do so. Coverage for actual claims will be determined by your individual policy terms and facts of the claim. Qualified counsel should be sought regarding questions specific to your circumstances and applicable state laws. © 2014 Federated Mutual Insurance Company

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 29


association

Peer Networking Webinar Scheduled for May 30 Do you have questions you wish you could ask your peers in similar job areas? What if you could get those questions answered from the comfort of your office? The power of the MAPP organization is at its highest when members are helping members. MAPP has peer-networking webinars every six weeks. The next peer networking webinar will take place on May 30. These groups consist of member professionals who work in common positions such as Human Resources, Purchasing or Operations. The purpose of peer networking is to bring together staff level professionals responsible for similar business areas to discuss the key issues they face. MAPP’s leadership team hopes to eliminate the idea of “reinventing the wheel” through these types of exchanges as learning from one another is one of the best professional development tools! Register now for the next peer networking opportunity at www.mappinc.com.

Save the Date: Benchmarking Conference Mark your calendars today to attend the most valuable processorfocused event in the industry – the MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference – on Oct. 16-17 in Indianapolis, IN. Register now to gain access to Keynote Speaker Jack Daly, networking opportunities, industry connections, processorfocused breakout sessions, benchmarking data, operational best practices and much more. The Early Bird registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. For more information and to register, visit www.benchmarkingconference.com.

Save on Shipping – A New Member Benefit MAPP is pleased and excited to announce an endorsed member benefit – the MAPP Shipping Program. Through MAPP’s agreement with PartnerShip®, MAPP members who enroll save substantial dollars on shipping small packages with FedEx® or LTL (less-than-truckload) shipments – inbound, outbound, small, large and tradeshow. Enroll in the MAPP Shipping Program and save on select FedEx® services for all express packages, ground packages and small-package residential delivery services. • Save up to 29 percent* on select FedEx Express® services. • Save up to 20 percent on select FedEx Ground® services. • Save up to 10 percent on select FedEx Home Delivery® services. Members also save on LTL freight shipments arranged through PartnerShip with leading national and regional freight carriers; plus, receive special pricing on tradeshow shipments. • Save at least 70 percent on LTL freight shipments. • Special tradeshow shipment pricing is available at TradeshowSelect.com/Quote. If you already use FedEx, your existing FedEx account automatically will be linked to the new discount program. All MAPP members also can benefit from the PartnerShip Inbound Shipping Management tools, which help members save on every shipment received from suppliers. Inbound or

30 | plastics business • spring 2014

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“WE ARE CHANGING HOW WE GROW OUR BUSINESS”

"We've been using simulation for 20 years and only in the last year since installing SIGMASOFT have we been able to realize these significant changes to our business. SIGMASOFT is more than just an engineering tool, it's proven to be a complete business tool for us. It helps us to quickly understand very complex problems and find solutions." —Eric Frearson,

Contact us to further explore: Exactly how process simulation can consider the entire process as well as mold material behaviors How SIGMASOFT® is the only simulation tool that can reliably predict mold temperature That other materials (low viscosity, PIM, Elastomer, LSR, and thermoset) can be accurately simulated with the actual mold temperature Why SIGMASOFT® can be operated by process engineers

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A C C U R A T E – C O M P R E H E N S I V E – E A S Y T O U www.plasticsbusinessmag.com SE | 31


association t page 30 outbound, small or large shipments – you save with the MAPP Shipping Program. Visit PartnerShip.com/12MAPP for complete information and to enroll in the MAPP Shipping Program. This program is free, with no obligations and no minimum shipping requirements. *This includes a bonus five-percent online processing discount. Full details are available at www.PartnerShip.com/12MAPP/FedExdiscounts.

Wage and Salary Survey Launching in June MAPP is pleased to announce the launching of the Wage and Salary Survey for 2014. Look for this popular survey to arrive in your email inbox at the beginning of June. Members who participate will enjoy a low-cost report. This report will consist of a comprehensive analysis of well over 50 different job classifications from plastics manufacturing companies that serve a variety of end-use markets. This

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MAPP Announces the Addition of Two New Staff Members MAPP has recently hired Dustin McKissen as its managing director. “I’m excited to join the team of such a thriving, innovative association and to be part of an industry that touches everyone’s daily life in so many ways,” McKissen said. “MAPP is on a growth curve that other associations would envy, and I look forward to doing what I can to contribute to that continued growth.” McKissen has previously served as the executive director of two associations – National Association for Information Destruction and the National Christmas Tree Association. To get in touch with McKissen, email dmckissen@mappinc.com. In addition, MAPP has brought on Letha Keslar as the conference and corporate sponsorships director. Keslar has 15 years of fundraising and special event experience. “I am excited to learn about our members, sponsors and the plastics industry as a whole, and to put my experience to work, especially at the Benchmarking Conference in October!” To get in touch with Keslar, email lkeslar@mappinc.com.

Nicolet Plastics Plant Tour Dates

Save the date for the next MAPP Plant Tour Event at Nicolet Plastics on July 23-24. Watch the MAPP website – www.mappinc.com – for more information on how to register. n


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view from 30

The View from 30 Feet: Cyber Fraud

by Jen Clark

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. While the information age has provided tools that make doing business easier and faster, it also has enabled a proliferation of fraudulent activity. Two MAPP-member companies recently experienced similar attacks and decided to share their experiences to help prevent cyber fraud from happening to others. Cyber fraud is any type of deliberate deception for unfair or unlawful gain that occurs online. The most common form is online credit card theft. The US Department of Justice defines these types of crime as “Mass-Marketing Fraud” because the schemes use one or more mass-communication techniques and technologies to harm victims. Bank and financial account schemes, for example, trick victims into providing bank or financial data, which gives the fraudsters unauthorized access to those accounts. The most common types of deception include “phishing” (attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details), “vishing” (the telephone equivalent of phishing) and “spear phishing” (an email that appears to be from a known individual or business).

Viking Plastics, Inc. was a victim of the latter. Cathy Pitts, controller, said she thought the Corry, PA-based company’s internal controls would prevent such a thing from happening; however, “I received an email one morning from a vendor in China saying ‘We have not received the funds that you wired us’,” she recalled. “I was sick to my stomach and knew immediately there was something wrong. I had an email the day before confirming that they had received the funds.” The vendor was a company Viking Plastics had dealt with in the past and had transferred funds to previously without problems. An investigation determined the vendor’s systems were breached. “Hackers got into their email and took over,” Pitts explained.

Tips to prevent phishing: If you receive an email from anyone asking you to send funds to a different bank account, utilize a different means of communication (phone, Skype, Fax, etc.) to double-check with the vendor. If you are uncertain about the validity of an email, check its properties. With the email open, go to File and then Properties to see from where it originated. In Viking Plastics’ case, emails from the hacker show in the Properties:

Received: from [127.0.0.1] (port=42962 helo=webmail.arabdoctors.ae) The font in red should have been the email address for Viking Plastics’ contact. Keep in mind, though, even if it looks like the contact’s URL that does not always mean it is safe.

Set up a secret phrase with your contacts. If there is ever any doubt, use this means to test that you are communicating with the correct person.

34 | plastics business • spring 2014

She and Viking Plastics’ program manager had received an email asking them to send the funds to a different account than normal. “We discussed (the situation) and thought that it was questionable,” Pitts said. “I took my mouse and hovered over the name of the sender to see where it really came from and it (appeared to be) from our contact. We then received another email with the new account information. Once again the email appeared to be legitimate. We even have emails from the hacker discussing logistics and how the shipment was going to be handled. I transferred the funds on Thursday, and on the following Monday I received an email acknowledgment that the funds had been received. Yes, the hacker was nice enough to confirm receipt.”


Fortunately for Viking Plastics, its first encounter with spear phishing was a loss under $10,000 and its vendor has taken full responsibility for the breach of security. “We are working with our bank and authorities to try and recover the money for our vendor,” Pitts said.

“I received an email one morning from a vendor in China saying ‘We have not received the funds that you wired us.’ I was sick to my stomach and knew immediately there was something wrong. –Cathy Pitts, Viking Plastics, Inc.

A second MAPP-member company suspects its own email system was hacked, allowing someone to falsely authorize payments through an Automated Clearing House (ACH) account for services never received. “The first draw was very small,” an official with the company said. “I understand that this is to test the numbers to verify that they are good and that the monies can be retrieved.” Once a fraudster finds the numbers are legitimate, it doesn’t take long for large amounts of money to go missing. “In just a few quick transactions, our account was relieved of $50,000 before our bank questioned the activity and before we noticed the withdrawals,” the official said. “We quickly had our account frozen and have since suspended all ACH payments.”

In this type of cyber fraud, perpetrators use several different individuals to receive the funds. Once the funds have left the receiving bank, they cannot be recovered. “The authorities are not interested in prosecuting the individual because they were not the one who actually withdrew the money,” the official said. “They also were, in a sense, a victim.” The company has worked with its bank to recover the funds and has set up certain security measures to prevent the loss from happening again. “The key is to secure your account and password information and never send it in an email or fax – it might be compromised,” the official said. “There are new encrypting methods, and banks also have newer protocols that require additional authorization processes for ACH payments. I suggest anyone using ACH should have a discussion about security with their banking representative.” n

Could Compliance Issues Derail Your Fortune? Every employer, no matter what size, has to deal with human resource issues, regulations, and employment law changes. Contact your local marketing representative to learn how Federated Insurance can help you surround compliance issues related to state, federal, I-9, and other regulations. Visit www.federatedinsurance.com to find a representative near you.

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 35


outlook

3D Printing Changes the Production and Tool Build Models

E

very news cycle brings more stories detailing the successful implementation of a new 3D-printed product, and there’s no doubt the technology has caught the fancy of the national media, despite the fact that the process itself has been around for decades. Whether it’s referred to as 3D printing, additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, there’s no denying that the technology is radically changing the way the everyday consumer views the manufacturing process. Not only does this change the production model for molders, but it also forces a rethinking of the mold design process. However, does the implementation of the technology in ways that include small production runs and tooling design spell trouble for the industry? Plastics Business spoke with representatives from three companies utilizing 3D printing, whether dipping a toe in the water with one machine or leading the pack with a full range of equipment. Here are their perspectives.

An introduction to the companies First American Plastic Molding Enterprise/Quad, Inc. is a custom injection molder with two locations in Illinois and Mississippi. With just over 150 employees, the company serves almost every industry, including medical, automotive, packaging and industrial tools. It has taken small steps into the 3D printing realm with the purchase of one piece of equipment; however, the company has partnered with a nearby business incubator which gives it access to ten additional machines. As Steve Erickson, vice president, explained, it was another MAPP member who turned them on to the possibilities. “Matt Hlavin from Thogus started sharing information about what his company was doing with rapid prototyping, and that’s when we looked into it a little more closely.”

36 | plastics business • spring 2014

In fact, Thogus, a healthcare, appliance and aerospace injection molder located in Avon Lake, OH, saw the potential in rapid prototyping more quickly than many in the injection molding industry. Under the business name rp+m (an acronym for rapid prototyping and manufacturing), Patrick Gannon, engineering manager, detailed the wide variety of equipment on site to handle processes ranging from binder jetting and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to fused deposition modeling (FDM) and polyjet. “We have three Fortus 900mcs, two Fortus 400mcs, an Objet500 Connex, an EOSINT M 280 and an M-Flex from ExOne, and a couple of smaller pieces from Stratasys, including a Dimension, an uPrint and a MakerBot,” he explained. “On all of the equipment, we have a capability to run all of the materials that are available.” Falcon Plastics, a Brookings, SD, company performing injection molding, overmolding and blow molding in the electronics and consumer health industries, also saw the potential in meeting the needs of those who had an idea, but perhaps weren’t ready for full production. In 2006, a new company – Premier Source – was formed to provide customers with tool construction, rapid prototyping, CAD modeling and specialty molding. The company has a total of four machines, said Joel McCue, engineering manager. These include two Stratasys uPrint, a Fortus 250 and a Fortus 400.

How is the equipment being utilized? Erickson: We use it in the traditional prototyping sense, to prove out customer designs either for mechanical testing or sales samples. We’ve done internal fixturing and nonfunctional gauges, and we’ve also designed some internal pieces for automation. We also had one customer who never was going to use enough product to make a mold economically feasible, so we did a small production run. We’re typically


outlook

a medium- to high-volume producer, so lower-volume production runs aren’t going to be our focus. McCue: We use it in just about every method you could think of, and our larger machines often open doors for us because we can create higher precision parts or those that require high-strength materials. We also are doing a fair amount of end use parts for projects where the costs of creating a mold and tooling for the first run are approximately the same as just printing them. The timeline is shorter – we can provide the parts in four weeks rather than four months. McCue: Falcon also has a high volume of outside orders for jobs and fixtures, and we also make custom automated machines, so I’m actually using the equipment to make oddshaped brackets and camera mounts. Gannon: We use the technology constantly and in so many ways. Recently, we’ve been prototyping full-sized chairs – the plastic ones for your patio. The customer prefers to prototype initially because of the cost of the tooling, which is in the

$300,000 to $400,000 range. Since the customer constantly is modifying the design, it makes more sense to spend $15,000 on a chair prototype to avoid tooling changes later on. We’ve also been making airplane and helicopter components. For instance, the technology has come in handy where a part has been in existence for a long period of time, and there are no CAD drawings or any other engineering data. In fact, we’ve worked from a hand-drawn picture done decades ago. We can scan the component and then print it, rather than trying to reengineer it from scratch.

Can it be used to create molds or mold components? Erickson: We did try to make a plastic mold, but it wasn’t a great success. It was a project in conjunction with the business incubator – we put our engineering heads together and gave it a try. We had an issue getting parts out of the mold, which I think was a combination of the substrate and the resolution of the printing. With the limited capability of our particular machine, the surface was probably too coarse to eject parts effectively. Going forward, we’re still interested in that page 38 u

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outlook t page 37

I wouldn’t look at 3D printing as a threat, but it changes the way we look at things. – Joel McCue, Falcon Plastics capability. I think as the metal additive printing capabilities increase and machines get lower in cost, we’ll look into it. Gannon: Creating plastic molds or mold components isn’t easy. You have to be concerned about the pressure and whether it will burst out of the tool, and it needs to fit into the existing cavity. One of the biggest issues with running a plastic tool is cooling, because you’re not going to pull heat out as easily. There’s a much longer cooling cycle, as much as 30 to 40 minutes versus 30 seconds to one minute.

McCue: We’ve created a mold on our FDM machines, and it functioned okay. We made several parts out of that mold, but the texture wasn’t quite smooth. We probably could have post-processed the mold a little longer to get better results. I think it would work if you had low volumes, but FDM is not the best solution for a prototype mold. The molds coming off Objet printers are very nice and almost on par for aluminum tooling for 10 to 100 parts per mold set. Even with aluminum, a mold can’t be made in a day, but the Objet printers can. That’s definitely an advantage. Gannon: We get quite a few requests for tooling where someone is at the beginning of the design process and needs to turn something around quickly in the intended material. For instance, one company had a soft-touch part, and it needed to add grippers that would be strong enough to hold, but flexible enough to easily unhook. The company wanted to test a couple different version of the design, so we created a tool that had removable inserts, and we started shooting parts within days of the project. Gannon: The second application was a medical device trying to get through FDA clearance, which requires a sample part in the end use material. That part of the cycle generally takes 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the size of the parts, number of parts and complexity of tooling, but we had parts running in a week so the initial testing could be done. McCue: We’ve done some CNC fixtures where we actually were milling some parts out of solid polyethylene, but to hold on to them, we FDM’d the fixtures to hold them into the machines. I can see us doing more in the future. Everything now is completely disordered and interwoven. The rapid prototyping equipment has become just another tool to get the end product that we want. Those machines are to us what a CNC is to a toolmaker.

Is 3D printing a threat or opportunity for molders and moldmakers? McCue: I wouldn’t look at 3D printing as a threat, but it changes the way we look at things. On the positive side, it fits into how we’re trying to help our customers because we’re able to verify it’s the part they want and the right specifications without retooling costs. Also, because of our experience with mold building and injection molding, we understand how the project will work in full-scale production, which keeps a stream of customers coming in with good designs and projects that are ready for molds. But, there always will be the entrepreneur who had one part printed in less than two weeks and doesn’t understand why some parts will

38 | plastics business • spring 2014

page 40 u


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outlook t page 38

A 4x4' bucket for tree stands was resized to a more practical 4x4" for tradeshows and sales calls with rapid prototyping.

take six months to ramp up to see something come up off a production line. Erickson: I think it potentially steals into any potential injection molding volume, and it’s hard to see where it crosses the line for those molders that specialize in low volume. Does the decision between molding and printing come down to a financial decision? The volumes – and even future volumes – have to be taken into consideration. Even though almost any design, profile or structure can be printed, there are ones that are not injection moldable. That may give people a false perspective, and if

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projection volumes suddenly skyrocket, how do you explain that the parts are too expensive to make? The OEMs understand, but the smaller guys may not be aware of that. Gannon: The moldmakers need to be thinking of how they could be using the technology. If you walk into a tool shop, the moldmakers have been doing this for 30 to 40 years, and they do it extraordinarily well. They know the processes – the machining, the finishing and the assembly – that go into making great tools. This is a new process, and they’re not necessarily losing business right now, but they will need to understand the advantages of the technology. McCue: There are other considerations when deciding whether to use traditional tools, such as how critical is the part? What are the requirements for strength? Does it have to fit with other things? That’s where toolmakers really shine. If it’s anything that’s highly precise or if it has to mate with another component, rapid prototyping may not be the best solution. Then again, there are times when it’s the only solution. One of our customers sells 4x4’ buckets that hold tree stands, so we made them a 4x4” model so he could take it to tradeshows. That project would have been impractical with anything but rapid prototyping. Gannon: There definitely are projects that make more sense for rapid prototyping, but there are limitations, too. If we need a specific material for a job, we’re not going out to grab it for that one piece. It can’t just be one application, one time. We try to partner with material companies and equipment manufacturers to see what makes sense for the business going forward. We don’t want to break the bank trying to be everything to all people. Gannon: Molders and moldmakers will have to continue to be the experts. Potential customers will come to us with a machined metal part and ask for it to be printed, but they see the price and they choke. If something can be done with


an existing legacy technology, materials and equipment, that may be the best way to go, because there’s a cost barrier for the new technologies. McCue: There’s been so much hype about it – people think we’re printing organs on a daily basis. But, there are limitations to the technology. It’s fast for one-off orders, but it’s not fast if you want to create millions of parts. It’s strong, but not as strong as its molded counterpart. It’s subjective. Gannon: We’re also talking about a million dollar investment for a single machine, plus resources like training and resins, and not every company has the benefit of a leadership that sees the future. Erickson: A year and a half ago, 3D printing still was cutting edge, but now if you don’t have 3D printing capability, some people might look down on your business for not keeping up. The level of press it has received means customers expect you to have the ability to provide service at all levels. n

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focus

Flight Delay in Vegas: How a Radar Malfunction led to a Conversation with some of the Newest Members of the Plastics Profession As my cab pulled up to the Las Vegas airport, I received a text telling me the flight had been delayed. I made it through security, grabbed a latte and settled in to do important things like update Facebook, play Candy Crush and watch a few episodes of The West Wing. I had just spent three days at ANTEC in Las Vegas, and I needed a little downtime. Ninety minutes later, my smartphone was demanding a battery charge and, like any seasoned traveler, I performed a covert scan of the area for a plug-in. The nearest location was surrounded by students wearing Pitt State Gorilla attire. Target acquired.

by Dianna Brodine

Pittsburg State University is located in Pittsburg, KS, about 160 miles south of the office of Plastics Business and Plastics Decorating magazines. Its College of Technology is home to a Plastics Engineering Technology department offering a bachelor’s program and, beginning in the fall of 2014, a degree program in Polymer Chemistry. I assumed (correctly) that the students also had attended ANTEC, so I introduced myself… and plugged in my iPhone. Nearly two hours later, with a radar malfunction causing delays at several airports, it became apparent we weren’t getting on a plane anytime soon, so I pulled out my laptop and we went on the record, talking about their conference experience, college studies and job prospects.

College works to prepare next-generation professionals

The Pitt State students were accompanied by Associate Professor Paul Herring. In total, nine students in the plastics engineering program, ranging from freshmen to seniors made the trip. Assistant Professor Rebeca Book also attended. “SPE has an effort through its Next Generation committee to host activities for young professionals and college students, so we made a big effort to get kids out here,” Herring said. Dr. Jaime A. Gomez, PhD, is global business development manager for Coperion K-Tron Pittman, Inc. He also serves as vice president/communications for SPE’s executive board. “We know we have to rejuvenate and invigorate the association to appeal to the younger generation,” he explained. “A technical conference like ANTEC can be intimidating for a group of 20-year-olds when the speakers are all 50-year-old men who’ve written books and developed equations.” In order to attract a younger audience that wants to be more active and apply their knowledge, ANTEC contained programming directed at the students and young professionals in attendance. This included a “plastics race” that sent the students down the Las

42 | plastics business • spring 2014


focus

also have a polymer research center that is doing a lot of things with bio-based plastics right now. It’s important to make sure the industry knows that we’re taking an active role in its growth.” According to the college’s website, the Plastics Engineering Technology major has two emphases – manufacturing and design – which involve comprehensive coursework, including practical and theoretical lectures with a strong emphasis on applied laboratory efforts in the areas of processing, resins, testing and design. Degree requirements include coursework in engineering graphics and computer-aided design, plastics testing technology, thermoset and thermoplastic resins, mold design, plastics processing and plastics part design. Currently, the college has 60 students majoring in the plastics engineering program. That number is down from enrollment figures 10 years ago, but Herring reported a strong enrollment for the 2013-2014 freshmen class and expects another increase for the upcoming year. “Everyone graduates with a job, and that’s a big selling point for the program,” he explained. “When we hold a job fair, the kids are walking out with five job offers. We’ve got to get our enrollment numbers up, and we have some new recruiting strategies, new ideas to implement next year.”

Left to right: Austin Bailey, Tom Roudebush, Dan Youngers

Vegas Strip, following clues that led to the answers to a set of questions. “We are losing 95 percent of the student membership in SPE once they leave college and enter their careers,” Gomez said. “We have to address the value by doing a better job of explaining to the young people what the benefit is for their careers. The plastics race was part of that. We mixed the teams up to encourage networking and then sent them off to enjoy themselves.” According to Pittsburg State senior Tom Roudebush, the mission was accomplished. “I really thought it was a great project. It was an opportunity to ‘nerd out’ on plastics stuff and see the town, too,” he explained. “That shared experience brought people together during the rest of the conference as well. It can be tough to connect with new people, but when you have an activity that everyone is engaged in, it’s easier to open up, and I definitely built some relationships that I hope will help me in my career.” To facilitate more networking and exposure for the Pitt State program, the students and faculty staffed a booth on the exhibit floor, hoping to gain a broader exposure for the program. “We wanted to talk about our Bachelor’s program and also spread the word about a new polymer chemistry degree that is being offered at Pitt State, starting this next fall,” Herring said. “We

The students’ perspective on the plastics industry

“The Plastics Technology program at Pitt State hasn’t had anyone present at ANTEC for a few years, so we wanted to get the kids out here to see what it was all about. Next year, we hope to have several with posters and papers,” explained Herring. Austin Bailey, a junior from Fort Scott, KS, is one of those students with a desire to present next year in Orlando, FL, when SPE’s ANTEC co-locates with NPE. “I am involved in research at the university, so I wanted to take a look at the posters, as well as see who was doing research along the same lines I am. I’m working with some flame retardancy additives and comparing the properties of those, and I’m hoping to present both a paper and a poster next year.” page 45 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 43


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focus t page 43 Fort Scott is located 30 miles north of Pittsburg State University, and the local high school requires students to take a technology course. That exposure played a role in Bailey’s career choice, as did the fact he has relatives in the plastics industry. “At our high school, we have a mini injection molding machine, so I was familiar with the technology. Also, I’ve had family members go through the Pitt State plastics engineering program, and they’re making good money now,” he explained. Bailey is working on degrees in both plastics technology and the new offering in polymer chemistry. “I’d like to go work at a company where I can work both on R&D with materials and also on the production floor. The main idea behind those two majors is not only to produce the resin, but produce a resin that will run on the machines,” he said. Through Pittsburg State job fairs, Bailey has a summer internship lined up with BD Medical, one of the largest medical device manufacturers in the world, at its Holdrege, NE, facility. “Even at the internship level, I had to turn down five or six offers,” he said. Daniel Youngers is a senior and will be graduating before this article is published. He has accepted a job with The Coleman Company, a subsidiary of Jarden Company, where, the website declares, “Our most important assets go home every night.” Youngers also interned with BD Medical, and it was his experience there that narrowed his interests. “BD Medical was a great internship because while the facility is primarily focused on injection molding, it also walked me through all the steps in mold design and part design.” Originally from Viola, KS, Youngers arrived at Pitt State intending to complete a degree in metal manufacturing. “I took a tour through the campus with a guy who had the keys to everything. When I saw the plastics lab, it seemed like that was where the possibilities were in manufacturing,” he said. “We’ve been manufacturing products with metals forever, but we’ve only been into plastics since World War II. There are a lot of discoveries yet to be made. I want to figure out how to make things better, and that’s why I’m excited about the job opportunities with Coleman, because the company wants their engineers to think that way.” When asked how to draw more students into the Pitt State plastics technology program, Youngers said, “We need to publicize that we have 100-percent job placement. There are a lot more companies that would have hired us, but there aren’t enough students. The career services department receives phone calls all the time from companies that want a person with two to three years of experience. It’s pretty exciting that there’s that much opportunity.”

Unlike Bailey and Youngers, manufacturing wasn’t a career path Roudebush had considered, despite the family business. “My dad actually owns a small business in Stillwater, KS, that makes composite fire retardant parts for the aerospace industry,” he said. “Manufacturing is familiar area for me, but I had never seen myself going into it. I was undecided on a major when I started at Pitt State – I chose Pittsburg because it was where both of my parents had graduated.” Roudebush remained undecided until his sophomore year. “I knew an older student in the plastics program,” he explained. “He took me to the facility, showed me the plastics lab and introduced me to the teachers.” An entry level course showed Roudebush that plastics would be a good fit. “For me, it was a good mix of hands-on and problem-solving, and obviously the great job placement was attractive. I felt really comfortable with the faculty, and the class sizes are small so they have time to work with you.” Those small classes, however, are something Roudebush would like to see change. “I was the president of SPE’s student chapter at Pitt State this past year, and one of my biggest goals was to get more membership involvement and in turn, get more people interested in the major,” he said. “People don’t realize the number of job opportunities we have when compared to a generic business degree. A lot of students are thrown off by the chemistry, but I’ve sat through some business classes that I thought were just as challenging as my chemistry classes.” While Bailey’s rural-area high school had classes in manufacturing technologies, that wasn’t the case for Roudebush’s Kansas City-area high school. While Pitt State’s plastics technology freshman class is larger this year, Roudebush feels strongly that exposure would drive more students into the program. “There are students in the plastics program now who got hooked on manufacturing in high school,” he said, “but we didn’t have anything like that in my area. If we could get into the larger high schools to talk about the opportunities, we could grow even more.” Roudebush also is graduating in 2014 and has accepted a job with Paragon Films, a stretch film manufacturer in Tulsa, OK. “This isn’t a career I had looked at for myself, but I think the problem-solving and the potential are cool. I’m lucky to be in this industry,” he said. Before we (finally) boarded the plane, I made sure the students had my business card. They are, after all, the future of the plastics industry. When they begin to do great things in their careers, I want to hear about it. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 45


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Plastics Business - Spring 2014  

Plastics Business - Spring 2014