On Friday, April 13, 37 mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering students from the University of Michigan-Dearborn visited Prism Plastics to learn more about the latest in injection molding technology, equipment, and processes. Prism staff, including VP Rod Bricker, led a tour of the new facility and discussed automation, process development, in-mold rheology, runner reduction techniques, and material selection with these student visitors.
The program emphasized the additional demands of making tight-tolerance, functional parts for automotive safety applications and the importance of eliminating variation from all stages of production. The students had a chance to interact with Prism staff and ask questions about the plant, technology and the processes being used at the plant, as well as talk about careers in the plastics industry and what Prism looks for when hiring young engineers.
“Everyone from our team enjoyed having students visit our new plant,” commented Bricker. “It feels great to share our knowledge and experience in tight-tolerance injection molding with the next generation of engineers.”
The students were quite impressed with what they saw. “The automation really surprised me,” said Daniel Dakoske, a mechanical engineering student. “I thought at least someone would have to stand at the machines. It’s also an extremely clean facility.”
Amy Parsons, another mechanical engineering student, said, “It was interesting to see the before-and-after explanation of cavity tooling and impressive to see all of the technology involved.”
Classroom learning is one thing but seeing manufacturing in action gave the students a look at the real-world applications of what they are learning at university. “The visual demonstration and in-depth engineering content was excellent,” said Ian Dettloff, another mechanical engineering student. “It’s the first time I’ve ever heard ‘Reynolds Number’ used outside of the classroom.”
German Reyes, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the U of M Dearborn, was also grateful for the opportunity for the plant tour for his students. “The students really appreciate the opportunity to visit Prism and see everything they have been learning put into practice. It’s wonderful to watch the light bulbs turn on for them, and valuable to give them a sense of what the real world of plastics is all about.”
Bricker acknowledged the benefits of providing this interactive plant visit with students. “Getting to interact with so many engaged and intelligent students speaks to a bright future for manufacturing and the plastics industry, especially here in Michigan,” he added.
Prism Plastics was founded in 1999, and currently has 51 employees at plants in Port Huron and Chesterfield, MI, and Harlingen, TX. Major customers include Autoliv, Grupo Antolin, Key Safety, Takata, and TI Automotive. Prism Plastics ships more than 250 million injection molded parts per year globally with less than five defective parts per million, according to information provided by Prism.