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Bemis cleans up at APP awards; external gas-assist makes splash in U.S.

Memphis, TN — Bemis Contract Group (Sheboygan, WI) tallied four out of 12 awards at the Alliance of Plastics Processors New Product Design Competition (April 1-3; Peabody Hotel, Memphis, TN), for two very different parts—a dryer door with integrated plastic window and a tractor hood utilizing 33%-40% secondary market resin placed in its core via coinjection. In the second year since switching to the Alliance of Plastics Processors’ (APP) Plastic Parts Innovations Conference and New Product Design Competition from the former Structural Plastics Division’s Structural Plastics New Design Competition, the organizer, the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI; Washington DC), brought in 163 attendees and 31 parts from 16 companies for the design competition, as well as hosting business- and technology-oriented presentations over two days.
SPI President Bill Carteaux, who addressed attendees in a keynote speech, called the annual conference a “cornerstone” event for SPI, and he hopes that the design competition will expand to an industry-wide one. At this year’s event, the 31 parts were down from 49 entries last year at the inaugural APP event in Columbus, OH, and they were dominated by Mack Molding Co. (Arlington, VT), which brought along 12 components, followed by three from The Minco Group (Dayton, OH), and two each from FM Corp. (Rogers, AR) and Bemis.
Besides Bemis, which won honors in the transportation category for the John Deere 7000 Series engine enclosure and tied with the Minco Group in the appliance category and won the conference award and IDSA award for its dryer-door window, Composite Products Inc. (Winona, MN) won in automotive for its Chevrolet brush grille; Innovative Injection Technologies (West Des Moines, IA) was honored for its grip seat base for a Kawasaki personal water craft; and Mack Molding was recognized for its integrated air -conditioning top cap for Trane, which replaced a multipart component. Pelican Products (Torrance, CA) was awarded the industrial/military honor for its gun case; FM Corp. was recognized in the medical and science category for its electro-surgery cart, and Bulk Molding Compounds (West Chicago, IL) was awarded the judges prize for an appliance handle molded using gas-evacuation to hollow out a BMC thermoset resin. Taking home the retail and consumer award, as well as the people’s choice award voted on by attendees, was the multi-function lifestyle chair molded by Fort Wayne Plastics (Fort Wayne, IN) using the structural web process. The product’s chair back featured integrated rockers so it could be removed from its base and sat on directly on the ground, while its base could be used as a small, adjustable table on wheels.
Jack Avery, formerly of GE Plastics, and now owner/founder of Avery Plastics Consulting (Salt Lake City, UT), guided the trade press through the parts, noting that by process there were 14 injection molded parts, four thermoformed, four structural foam, one extrusion, and one blowmolded component, among other technologies. Avery also noted that while the early days of the competition were dominated by computer and business equipment parts, this year there was only one part entered in that category: a blowmolded easel.
External gas assist, where gas is spread across the core side of a part to improve exterior surface; hide sinks and other surface marring from structural ribs; and lower the tonnage needed for molding, was applied by a North American company in the competition for the first time, according to Avery.
Mack utilized external gas assist for a Triton Cobia ATM housing and an airplane video bezel. Gary Vande Berg, Bemis director of engineering, said his company is also investigating the technology, currently molding a part that formerly required a 2200-ton press on a 1500-ton press. Asked how low Bemis could go in tonnage thanks to external gas assist, Vande Berg admitted, “I don’t know yet.” Vande Berg speculated the technology could be useful in the company’s work for John Deere, or any flat parts, large or small, that require good surface aesthetics with lots of backside detail. Cinpres holds exclusive rights for the technology in North America, after purchasing a license from Asahi Chemical of Japan.
SPI’s APP will host the 2008 Plastics Parts Innovations Conference and New Product Design Competition from April 20-22 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac Hotel in St. Louis, MO. SPI will begin taking submissions for paper abstracts on May 7 at If selected, the deadline for papers will be Feb. 25, 2008.[email protected]
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