Plastic industry honors innovative parts

May 6, 2004
The top cowl for an outboard marine engine took the Conference award in the Structural Plastics Div. (SPD) 2004 design competition.

It's reportedly the largest injection-molded nylon part, weighing in at 11.3 lb and measuring 33.5x23x16 in. The cowl is part of a three-piece assembly that won both the People's Choice and Recreation/Leisure accolades for engine builder Mercury Marine. The entire assembly (top, front, lower, and rear cowls) keeps water away from the supercharged four-stroke-engine. Bemis Manufacturing Co., Sheboyan Falls, Wis., molds the parts using a number of polymer alloys from Du-Pont Engineering Polymers, Wilmington, Del. A 33% glass-reinforced Zytel nylon 6/6 is used for the top and rear cowl, Surlyn Reflection Series supergloss ionomer alloy gives molded-in color to the lower cowling, and a mineral/glass-filled Minlon nylon 6/6 gives added stiffness to the front cowl. The entire assembly is 30% lighter (33.5 lb) and costs 46% less than a traditional SMC (sheet-molded compound) cowl assembly. The nylon stands up well to adverse weather, UV exposure, salt, fuel vapors, and oil. Sequential valve gating during molding reduces glass readthrough and warpage while improving surface finish so parts readily accept a painted Class-A finish. The cowl features molded-in, lockable latches that give easy access for routine maintenance.




Judges stepped up and took notice of the onepiece composite running board for Ford F250/350 trucks, giving it their award. The single composite part by Decoma Exterior Systems Engineering, Troy, Mich., is designed to replace a 43-piece metal running-board assembly. Designers teamed with molder, Composite Products Inc., Winona, Minn., to drop over 30 lb per vehicle on P131 Super Cabs with the specially formulated polypropylene, long-glass-fiber-reinforced composite. The UV-resistant composite reportedly exceeds the metal requirements by a factor of three with less deflection. The design cuts secondary operations and gauging, improves quality with better dimensional control, resists corrosion, and is eco-friendly and recyclable.




Bemis Manufacturing not only molded the award-winning cowling for Mercury Marine they also took top Agriculture/Lawn and Garden honors for another engine enclosure for the John Deere 7000 tractor and captured the Single Part and Transportation titles for the John Deere 7000 Top Hood and John Deere Gater CS/CX and MPX, respectively. The engine enclosure is coinjection molded with a heat-resistant PC/PBT polymer skin over a 15 to 20-lb regrind ABS core. Coinjection let Bemis build the top hood with 0.24 to 0.31-in.-thick walls and incorporate a one-piece front grille frame to which the entire grille/light system mounts.




Bemis's other winning entry, Gater CS/CX and MPX parts, goes into a family of recreation and utility vehicles. They replace high-density polyethylene with coinjection-molded PC-ASA-SAN engineered polymers to improve gloss, stiffness, and mar resistance. ABS serves as the part core to help reduce costs. Injection molding, extrusion blow molding, coinjection molding, and rotationalmolding processes are employed in making the various parts.




Gas-counter pressure-injection molding produces shelves, rear wall, paper tray, and paper-tray extension used in a business machine that garnered the Computer & Business Equipment award. The parts go in the Xerox WorkCentre Pro 40 The Advanced Multifuntion Office System. Gas-counter pressure reduces molded-in stress thereby boosting dimensional accuracy for flatness (left shelf and right shelf) and curvature (rear wall). It also let the molder, GI Plastek, Marysville, Ohio, mold the parts with no slides, lifters, or core pulls, and eliminates surface defects such as "swirl" from foaming agents, gate blush, knit and flow lines, and texture imperfections. The parts are made with Cycoloy C6600 an ABS/PC alloy from GE Advanced Materials, Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass.




The Medical and Scientific award went to Rubbermaid Medical Solutions, Winchester, Va., for its eMar Cart. Nurses, pharmacists, and IT specialists all helped in the medical cart's design. It features easily accessible medication drawers, bidirectional work surfaces, side bins, ergonomic handles, improved casters to ease maneuverability, and a place for a bar code scanner. Parts are injection molded from flame retardant ABS.



Other winners in the competition were Tupperware Corp. Orlando, for Retail/Consumer Products, EnviroTech Molded Products Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, for Industrial & Military, Stormtech LLC, Wethersford, Conn., for construction,and Innovative Injection Technologies Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, for furniture. Visit for more information on the award winning designs and SPD.



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