Congratulations to Knoll Furniture, ZOLL Medical, Raymond Corporation and Thermo Electron for their winning applications at the Alliance of Plastics Processors annual parts design competition earlier this month. In conjunction with Mack, these companies garnered five awards for processing and product design innovation, “the highest number of awards we’ve ever won over a long history with this competition,” says Jeff Somple, president, Northern Operations.
The winning applications are:
- Furniture/Computer & Business Equipment category — Chadwick Suspension Chair, Knoll
- Single Part category — Seat Encapsulation/Chadwick Chair, Knoll
- Medical/Scientific category — E Series™ Defibrillator, ZOLL Medical Corporation
- Material Handling category — Wildcat ER Cover, Raymond Corporation
- Appliance category — Orion Star Series Meters, Thermo Electron Corporation.
“The common denominator among all the parts is complexity,” adds Somple. “They are all difficult to produce. Challenging processes. Hard-to-run materials. Unique tooling scenarios. They represent the type of manufacturing that has remained in the U.S. So to be competitive today, you have to be really competent at the complex engineering and processing applications…the hard stuff.”
Chadwick Suspension Chair
The Chadwick suspension chair is built of light injection molded forms that make up the frame, arm and base. Mack uses nine tools to mold 14 parts out of 40 percent glass-filled nylon to meet cosmetic and structural requirements.
Gas-assisted injection molding is used on several parts to reduce cycle times and part weight, and maximize the structural integrity of the resin.
Made of only plastics, fabric, links and springs, the chair is designed to be simple, comfortable and affordable, yet aesthetically pleasing. A resilient suspension seat and back fabric chemically bond with the plastic during the fabric encapsulation process (described below) and handles all recommended load requirements to meet BIFMA standards.
Chadwick Seat Encapsulation
Winning the Single Part category is the seat encapsulation for the Chadwick chair described above. The seat support must transfer the load of an individual’s weight to the seat frame without any fabric tearing issues. To accomplish that, Mack uses fabric that is produced in two types of copolyester resin.
First the fabric is manually hung in the press and overmolded around its perimeter with a 20 percent glass-filled copolyester resin to form a frame that holds the fabric and provides initial structure for the seat. The copolyesters in both the fabric and seat frame chemically bond during that process. The excess fabric is then trimmed away from the outside of the molded frame. Second, the trimmed seat encapsulation is loaded into another tool, where it is overmolded with a 40 percent glass-filled nylon to match the chair. The mushroom-shaped design of the seat frame overmold wraps around the copolyester frame to hold it in place.
This two-step molding process is innovative because it allows one resin, the copolyester used to mold the initial seat frame, to chemically bond with the copolyester fabric, while the second step bonds the overmold to the seat frame via a cosmetically enhancing mechanical design.
E Series™ Defibrillator
The Medical/Scientific division winner is the E Series™ Defibrillator from ZOLL Medical, the OEM that won this category with Mack last year for the ZOLL AED Pro automated external defibrillator.
Designed to meet the specific demands and extreme conditions of the emergency medical services environment, the E Series features a suitcase-style design with an innovative, protective roll cage, allowing emergency personnel to carry and store the device easily. Small, light and tough, it can be dropped off a building or run over by a truck without affecting operation.
From a mechanical perspective, the E Series is innovative because of its lightweight, yet indestructible design. The part is protected on three sides with gas-assisted parts — two side rails and the front handle. The side rails are gas-assist injection molded of a modified ABS resin to meet wall thickness requirements. Additionally, the gas-assisted handle is molded of polycarbonate resin and overmolded with thermoplastic polyurethane to provide both comfort and grip to the emergency medical technician handling the product.
Mack molds a total of 14 parts for the unit, using polyurethane, polycarbonate and modified ABS resins. All materials are high impact resins with high temperature resistance to assure performance in the harshest of conditions.
Wildcat ER Cover
Winning the Material Handling category, the Wildcat ER Cover protects the motor and other components on the new 8000 Series of pallet trucks manufactured by the Raymond Corporation.
Billed as “the toughest pallet truck you can buy,” the 8000 Series features a rugged polymer cover that won’t bend, dent, fade or rust like metal covers. It snaps conveniently on and off for easy maintenance, and there are no catch points that can cause the cover to become damaged. Low pressure structural foam molded of thermoplastic elastomer, the large cover meets both cosmetic and extremely high impact requirements. The combination of material, process and paint allows the part to “flex” without surface damage.
Orion Star Series Meters
The Orion Star Series Meters won the Appliance division. Manufactured by Thermo Electron, the bench top and handheld meters were designed to offer rapid, accurate measurement of pH, ISE, dissolved oxygen and conductivity for environmental (water) analysis in the laboratory or the field.
The bench top version is rated IP67 splash-proof and IP54 dust-proof and takes up very little bench space due to its small footprint.
The lightweight design of the handheld model, coupled with the new waterproof and secure electrode connectors, makes it ideal for fieldwork. Both housings are injection molded of polycarbonate resin for impact strength and chemical resistance.