Discover what’s on our minds and let us know what’s on yours. Check back often to learn about new thoughts, events, information, or ideas we have regarding the possibilities of plastic extrusion!
PGA Championship Bridgestone Invitational
Bridgestone Invitational – Firestone Country Club
Thursday Aug 3 – Sunday Aug 6, 2017
Are you planning to visit Akron for the PGA Bridgestone Invitational? Some of the top golfers in the world will compete for this year for a combined purse of $9,750,000. Will Dustin Johnson repeat as champion? Will the winner claim more than Johnson’s $1,620,000 2016 winnings?
Will Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, or Matt Kuchar dethrone Dustin Johnson this year? These are all great questions, and we all will have to wait until the tournament to get the answers. One thing is certain; there will be outstanding golf played during the four days of the tournament!
Formtech Enterprises is proud to have started our company over 47 years ago in a 5,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Akron, Ohio, making custom plastic extrusions for a small number of customers. Today, Formtech has two manufacturing facilities in Athens, Georgia and Fairview, Pennsylvania and maintains a corporate headquarters location in Stow, Ohio. We are proud of our roots, and thankful for our good customers.
We are experts in plastic extrusion, and work with both current and prospective customer partners early in the design process to provide design for manufacturing assistance. Formtech is committed to innovation, and work every day to keep our customers at the forefront in technology through high-quality, custom, plastic extrusions.
If you are planning to be in Akron the week of the tournament and would like to learn more about Formtech custom plastic profile extrusions, give us a call at 330-688-2171. We welcome the opportunity to learn more about any plastic extrusion needs you have! And….enjoy the tournament!
Design Considerations for Custom Plastic Extrusion
Formtech Enterprises services a very diverse market base including building products and construction, point of purchase displays, commercial refrigeration, packaging, office furniture, commercial refrigeration, electronics and other related industries. We have a good understanding of these products, but we are certainly not design experts in any of the industries mentioned. What we are experts at is custom plastic extrusion. Plastic extrusion has been our focus and our passion for over 47 years. We have design experts at each of our manufacturing locations, and other technical resources available to aid in design for manufacture of plastic extruded profiles. Design assistance is a service we offer, and by getting involved as early as possible in the process allows us to discuss design ideas that may improve the extruded product. By getting involved early in your product design, we can also make your company aware of unique manufacturing capabilities at Formtech that may enhance your product through features we can add to the extrusion through materials, value added services, and our capabilities.
You can rely on Formtech to ask the right questions during the initial stages of new product development, and this information will be used to help us help your engineering team utilize the right materials and design to take full advantage of the extruded profile(s). You can click here for a comprehensive list of areas we will explore to prepare our team to work with you on profile design. As with any product, there are specific design tips that can improve both the performance and cost of your custom profile extrusion needs. Please look at the following design tips from Formtech:
Balanced Wall Thickness
A balanced wall thickness on an extruded plastic profile is likely the single most important consideration in profile design. Why is this? Plastic materials are extruded in a semi-molten state, and the material is pushed though the steel extrusion die under pressure created by the extruder. In a balanced wall thickness condition, equal pressures are created in the die, and even flow through the streamlining and land portions of the extrusion tool are created. When the wall thickness of the extruded profile is not balanced, the pressures in the tool are uneven, and the molten plastic seeks the path of least resistance. This creates a natural tendency to flow to the thickest, most central portions of the profile first. These thicker sections will cool slower than the thinner portions of the profile. This requires additional design modifications to the tool itself, and in most cases additional cooling, or sizing, will be required. If a design can be changed slightly to accommodate a balanced wall, the tooling and development will be less costly, and improved tolerance control can be achieved.
Hollows are not necessarily bad in terms of extrusion design. There are many design considerations where hollow profiles are required to make a functional product as part of a system. Added rigidity is a common reason to incorporate a hollow into the basic extrusion shape. To make a hollow, or multiple hollows on an extruded plastic part, internal mandrels are required within the extrusion die, which must be supported by some type of web to connect it to the balance of the die. This web separates the melt stream of the thermoplastic material, and die length must be extended to allow the melt-stream to “knit” together again before exiting the extrusion die. More extensive sizing and calibration is also required for a hollow product compared to a standard extrusion. Even with the complexities hollow shapes creates, they are preferable to an unbalanced wall thickness if the profile design will accommodate the hollow section.
Hollows or Other Details Within Hollows
Hollow profiles add complexity to an extrusion shape, but creating situations where other features are added within the hollow (screw bosses, internal holding legs, etc.) increases tooling and manufacturing complexity exponentially. The issue is getting inside the hollow section to properly cool and control the feature within the hollow. By way of example, a square hollow profile allows sizing, or calibration, to pull all around the profile under vacuum to form the shape, cool the part, and maintain profile integrity during the process. However, if internal legs are then designed into the hollow to add a feature such as an attachment slot (see diagram), there is no way to get inside the hollow to hold the internal feature(s) in place during the cooling process.
Many if not most plastic compounds are notch sensitive, meaning a sharp corner creates a weak point in the profile where cracking and/or failure can occur. Sharp corners on a profile extrusion not only reduce the impact resistance of the profile, but will create a weak point where cracking will most likely be experienced due to stress concentration. Sharp corners should be avoided to the fullest extent possible in profile extrusion design. The sharpest controllable outside corner radius in plastic materials is 0.015” (0.381 mm). In reality this is a pretty sharp corner and should be acceptable in most profile designs. Ideally, a good design guide would be to have the radius be equal to the wall thickness of the product. This contributes to smoother flow of material during extrusion, and less stress at the corners of the profile.
Intersecting Legs on Exposed Surfaces
When two legs intersect on a profile shape, the intersection itself, along with radii in the corners create a thicker section on the profile. As mentioned in a previous design tip, thicker sections of a plastic product cool slower than the thinner sections, and in this case, create what is termed as a sink mark. In some situations, this would not create an issue, if it occurs on an exposed surface a visible line will be apparent opposite the intersecting leg. Some tips on handling this situation would be to add either a convex or concave feature on the exposed surface to compensate for the sink mark. Other options could include either a raised or indented pattern on the cross section (see examples), or better yet using “fold-up” technology where appropriate to eliminate the issues entirely by folding the extrusion over during cooling. This provides for a much more aesthetically pleasing surface finish, and even provides the option to emboss a texture or pattern into the exposed surface before folding over to form the final shape of the product.
We are anxious to work with you and your team on your next product development process. Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at email@example.com for more information or a quotation.
Fun Fact Friday – Who Invented Plastic?
Plastics have become such an important part of our lives that we take most everyday plastic items for granted. Items can be from plastic extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding, and even from 3D printing. Rather than try to list the countless items made from plastics, just take a look within ten feet of you, and find ten items made from plastic. As I am setting at my desk writing this blog, I am looking at an orange plastic highlighter, a set of iPhone ear buds, a plastic calculator, scissors with plastic handles, my computer keyboard, the plastic top of my stapler, a plastic cap to my pen, the plastic cover on my phone, a remote and my trusty plastic ruler. I am sure I could find more; I have a pretty messy desk….
Plastics touch us in so many ways in our lives, it is inconceivable to imagine life without them. In fact, technology is advancing to the point that plastics can be used to save lives. Click here to read more about innovation and a new artificial heart (BiVACOR) that can beat forever with innovative use of plastics.
Development of plastic material through the years created opportunities for custom plastic extrusion companies to develop building materials such as vinyl windows, vinyl siding and PVC pipe that outperform other products, in most cases at a more competitive price than the products they replace. But where did all this start? According to the history books the first person to create a man-made plastic compound was Mr. Alexander Parkes, from Birmingham, England. Mr. Parkes was an inventor with 66 patents, and was educated in the field of metallurgy. It was around 1850 when he started experimenting with nitrocellulose and camphor to make a hard but flexible transparent plastic material he named Parkesine. Unfortunately, he was not successful taking the product to market but this started the plastics revolution. Possibly the most important inventor in the area of plastics was Mr. Leo Baekeland, an American chemist who developed a product he named Bakelite. This material became an almost instant success in the early 1900’s, after a patent was awarded in 1909. By the time Mr. Baekeland passed away in 1944, the industry yearly usage of Bakelite hit 350,000,000 pounds of material in more than 15,000 different parts.
Formtech Enterprises was started in Akron, Ohio by Mr. Dave Turk. Today Formtech has manufacturing facilities in Fairview, PA and Athens, GA that house twenty-two plastic extrusion lines. These extrusion lines are used to manufacture plastic extruded products from a wide variety of materials including ABS, Rigid PVC, Polypropylene (PE), Polypropylene (PE), Flexible PVC, Polycarbonate (PC), Thermoplastic Rubber (TPE, TPE), Recycled Materials and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) compounds. Formtech services a wide variety of markets including office furniture, electronics, commercial refrigeration, point of purchase displays and building & construction with custom plastic extrusions. Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or a quotation.
Snippets from the Plastics News Financial Summit in Chicago
Bill Wood, Plastics News Economic Editor, gave his thoughts regard the economy, and more specifically the state of the plastics industry at the Plastics News Financial Summit in Chicago.
Snippets from Bill’s observations are as follows:
- US plastics production is at 90% of its pre-recession peak
- Durable goods and auto sales are seeing slow growth
- Retail sales outside automotive are getting back to 4% growth
- Housing starts, one the bellwether of the economy, are improving, but remain down 40$ from pre-recession peaks
- The appliance industry is growing at a 5% level
Mr. Wood believes economic growth in the US will remain in the 2% to 2-1/2% range, which will lead the plastics industry to this same type of growth pattern. For the full article, click here.
Formtech is blessed to serve a wide variety of end markets including office furniture, electronics, point of purchase displays, building and construction, packaging and the entrance mat industry with many custom and proprietary extruded shapes. We are enjoying growth in excess of Mr. Wood’s projections, both with existing and new customers. Formtech has been manufacturing custom extruded plastic profiles for more than 47 years, and we are experts in the field of extrusion. We are investing in the company, and have capacity to take on extrusion projects at both our Fairview, Pennsylvania and our Athens, Georgia manufacturing facilities. To learn more about capabilities at either or both of these extrusion manufacturing locations click here for Fairview location and here for the Athens location.
We know how important it is to pick the right partners for the success of your organization. We have along list of client partners who have trusted our company for their custom profile needs for many, many years. We work everyday to maintain the trust of our customers, and work consistently to keep our customers out in front of technology we can bring to them in an ever increasingly competitive world. We believe we are “just what the doctor ordered” when it comes to plastic extrusion, and we have the right people to help with material selection, design for manufacture, tolerance development, and even prototyping. Click on the “Doctor” to learn more about the services we can offer to you as you start to work on your next project.
Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at email@example.com for more information or a quotation.
Plastics and the Environment – Creative Ways to Recycle Plastics
Plastic Eating Caterpillar Could Halt PE Bag Waste
Plastics Technology Magazine recently published an article about an accidental discovery that may lead scientists to better, more efficient ways to recycle certain types of plastics. According to the article (click here to read full article), an amateur beekeeper (and scientist) was removing unwanted parasites from the honeycombs in her bee hives. As the parasites were removed, they were placed in a common plastic grocery bag, made from Polyethylene. Within 40 minutes holes started to appear in the bag, and within 12 hours the bag was riddled with holes. The parasite was a common wax worm, or the larvae of a Greater Wax Moth.
Scientists have conducted studies on this phenomenon, and determined the worms transform the polyethylene into ethylene glycol by actually breaking down the polymer chains in the material. The caterpillar produces something that breaks the chemical bond, perhaps in the salivary glands or a symbiotic bacterial in the stomach.
While Formtech does not have a mass quantity of wax worms at our disposal, we do reprocess large amounts of recycled plastics into extruded plastic profiles and products used in a wide variety of market areas. These materials can include both post consumer and post industrial waste, and include several types of plastic materials. One great example of a structural product is an all vinyl (PVC) extrusion used as part of a system to form a vinyl coated, steel reinforced concrete seawall. This innovative, hybrid sheet piling system is made by Formtech from 93% recycled PVC material, and is sold by Truline into the marine market for shoreline protection
In fact, Formtech is a net consumer of recycled plastic materials, meaning the company actually purchases large quantities of recycled plastic materials from outside sources to re-manufacture into custom profile extrusion products for our customers. The practice of adding recycled materials back into extruded profiles is good for our customers, and good for the environment. In addition, Formtech offers several other services to add value to your extruded plastic profile. The include custom color matching, embossing or texturing, adhesive tape or magnetic tape application, or even custom fabrication and assembly options.
Formtech Enterprises has been making custom profile extrusions since 1970, and we service several markets including building and construction, packaging, point of purchase displays, commercial refrigeration, electronics, office furniture and the entrance mat industries with a wide variety of custom and proprietary extruded profiles. Give us a call at 614-531-9954 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or a quotation.