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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Formerly focused primarily on the high-end sector of the computer and business equipment industry, Mack Molding set out several years ago to further diversify its market position, thereby spreading both its unique strengths and risks over broader terrain. That strategy has been successful, with Mack now supplying parts, assemblies and completed products to major OEMs in the medical, furniture, commercial, consumer electronics, heavy truck and large part markets, as well as the computer and business equipment marketplace. This strategic shift can also be evidenced by Mack’s entry of eight parts into seven different categories at the New Product Design Competition at Structural Plastics 2004.
Medical & Scientific
Topping off the list of entries are two in the Medical & Scientific classification. The first is a base for an oxygen concentrator unit manufactured by Respironics, Inc., the leading global resource in the respiratory medical device market. Mack Molding’s Southern Operations, with molding and manufacturing facilities in Inman, S.C. and Statesville, N.C., worked with the OEM to redesign the base to reduce part weight, and ultimately costs. To accomplish this, Mack upgraded its robotics for improved molding efficiency; redesigned the assembly line to reduce labor; and in conjunction with the OEM, built new tools to eliminate brass inserts, lower part weight, improve cycle time and eliminate assembly components. The retooling paid for itself in less than six months, and at the same time, produced a part that was both smaller and less expensive, yet upgraded in terms of quality. Part cost decreased, and when combined with other cost-saving measures, resulted in an overall savings in excess of 20 percent. The five-pound base is structural foam molded of PC/ABS resin for high-impact resistance. It is produced in a one-cavity steel tool, and measures 12″ x 18″. The Respironics unit can be seen at the following link:
The second Medical & Scientific entry is a medical cart for a global healthcare company and leader in eye care products. The cart holds surgical devices for outpatient laser cataract surgery. Representing the latest in laser surgery technology, the cart required a highly cosmetic, yet efficient design. Its contoured, ergonomic design and strength requirements dictated a heavy use of plastic, resulting in 31 steel and aluminum tools and 46 unique plastic parts. Gas-assist, straight injection and insert molding replaced the structural foam process used to manufacture the cart’s predecessor, and eliminated two coats of paint. Molded of both polycarbonate and PC/ABS resins to meet flammability, impact and cost requirements, the overall cart weighs 100 pounds and measures 18″ x 24″ x 48″. This entry is molded at Mack Molding’s Northern Operations, which includes five locations in Arlington, Cavendish and Pownal, Vt., and Gardner, Mass.
Another entry from Mack’s Northern Operations is the Bebop Cart for Knoll, Inc., a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of creative office furnishings. Versatility is the key to this mobile office cart design, which can be used as a computer station, audiovisual cart or storage unit. Building on one basic cart design, accessories can be added to modify its size and meet different functional requirements. Available in nine colors, the innovative cart design can be customized into an unlimited number of configurations and color schemes. Parts for the easy-to-assemble cart are molded of polypropylene, polycarbonate and TPE resins in seven one-cavity steel tools that offer molded-in texture. These materials were chosen for aesthetics, strength, UV resistance and cost. A digital rendering of the 20-pound, 2′ x 2′ x 3′ cart can be seen at http://www.knoll.com/products/product.jsp?prod_id=259.
Entered in the Individual Part category is a heavy truck part – a splash shield bracket – that Mack’s Southern Operations molds for Volvo Truck Corporation, the third largest producer of heavy trucks in the world. The splash shield bracket was converted from square tubular steel to 30 percent glass reinforced nylon, resulting in a six-pound weight reduction per truck (two brackets per truck) and a 50 percent cost reduction per part. In its original design as a nylon part, the bracket was initially tested at 1.5 pounds, which actually reduced part cost by 60 percent over its steel predecessor. While this design passed extensive use testing, Volvo wanted more stiffness in the part. Mack redesigned the prototype mold to add more geometry and material, resulting in a stiffer part that appeared more substantial. This final, fully approved design weighs just over two pounds. In addition, the part is easier to install in its three-point mounting position than its heavier counterpart, and will not rust.
Philips designed the components for its 55-inch projection TV cabinet to provide sleek aesthetics for the high-end U.S. and European markets, while at the same time, offering a rigid structure to house the sensitive components in Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) projection technology. The LCOS technology results in far lighter, thinner and smaller TVs than current direct view or projection TV sets. Mack’s Southern Operations uses gas-assisted injection molding to produce four of the five parts in the assembly, which require high cosmetics over a large surface area, as well as an internal ribbing structure on the upper back to hold a mirror flat within +/- 1mm. The gas-assist process also provides better fill for the intricate details in the parts, and minimizes press tonnage. The parts are molded of polystyrene and PC/ABS resins, and painted with two water-base color coats. The 100-pound part measures 58″ x 39″ x 18″ and can be viewed at http://www.consumer.philips.com/global/b2c/ce/catalog/category.
Lawn & Garden
Mack’s Lawn & Garden entry is a walk-behind handle for two different greens mowers manufactured by Jacobsen, A Textron Company. A steel replacement application, the previous handle was a formed, welded and overmolded steel assembly. Jacobsen wanted to reduce weight and cost while improving durability and comfort. Mack’s solution is a gas-assisted injection handle molded of glass-filled nylon that is both lightweight and strong. It is overmolded with a thermoplastic elastomer for ergonomic comfort and aesthetics. The materials also provide chemical resistance, UV stability and improved functionality, all at lower costs over steel. The two-pound walk-behind handle is used on the Jacobsen Tournament Cut-22 Greens Mower seen at this link: http://www.jacobsen.com/product.asp?MID=1&FID=7&PID=110 and on the Jacobsen E-Walk Electric Greens Mower seen here: http://www.jacobsen.com/product.asp?MID=1&FID=7&PID=111
Jacobsen manufactures a full range of turf maintenance equipment, and personnel and burden carriers for the golf course, professional lawn care, sports field and general grounds maintenance markets.
Recreation & Leisure
Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, wanted to consolidate three components from previous ATV models into one to save assembly time, reduce costs and improve overall aesthetics. The result is an ATV top cover that serves as both a fuel tank housing cover and a side panel for a large ATV. Mack’s Southern Operations injection molds the part using a single sprue with multiple gates in the cap opening to promote uniform fill and minimized knit lines. The one-cavity steel mold is diamond-polished to produce a high gloss finish. Molded of polypropylene resin for durability, lighter weight and lower cost, the two pound part measures 36″ x 24″ x 18″ and can be seen at this link: http://www.yamaha-motor.com/products/unitinfo.asp?lid=1&lc=atv&cid=29&mid=327
Computer & Business Equipment
Mack’s Northern Operations replaced metal with plastic for a large 70″ door for a rack enclosure for a leading manufacturer of products, services and solutions for information storage and management. Plastics allowed for lighter weight, curved dimensions, and improved aesthetics that were further enhanced by metallic flake paint and louvre openings. Mack uses a high-pressure structural foam process to maintain the required strength-to-weight ratio and structural rigidity for the large door. Molded of PC/ABS resin in a one-cavity steel tool with a multi-drop hot manifold, the 15 pound part measures 20″ x 70″. It is finished with three coats of water-base paint (prime, smooth and texture).
Mack is a full-service contract manufacturer that specializes in plastics design, prototyping and molding, as well as sheet metal fabrication. The company operates 12 facilities throughout the eastern United States and Scotland totaling 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing space. For further information, call 802-375-2511.
About the Competition
The New Product Design Competition, sponsored annually by the Structural Plastics Division, is a non-commercial showcase of a wide range of engineering, specialty and commodity materials that represents products manufactured from a variety of progressive plastic processes. Awards are presented to those products that represent the best of the best and meet or exceed the criteria of innovation and excellence.