Long-Standing Teamwork Benefits All

Long-Standing Teamwork Benefits All

HTI Plastics are experts in material selection, performance and moldability

HTI Plastics + Nexeo Solutions = Big Win for HTI Customers

A manufacturing supply chain is more powerful and robust when it’s formed through reliable and long-lasting relationships between companies. This is a perfect case of results being more than the sum of the parts. Solid manufacturing partners play off of one another. They find solutions it would be very difficult for casual suppliers and customers to find. Partners anticipate each others’ needs, and can plan ahead to take advantage of future opportunities together.

The more-than-two-decade partnership between HTI Plastics and resin supplier Nexeo Solutions (formerly Ashland Inc.) has become a force in the industry HTI’s customers count on to help them manufacture superior product every time. Nexeo is a global materials distribution partner that teams up with clients such as HTI to add value by finding solutions that address manufacturing, diagnostic, instructional, and advanced development issues.

Project Evaluation

At the beginning of a new project, HTI presents the product specifications to Nexeo. For existing or transferred-in projects, material and processing are reviewed by both parties to ensure best practices are still in place. Where needed, Nexeo also combines forces with HTI’s experts to investigate client solutions that meet rigorous, industry-specific material requirements. For Nexeo, there are four broad areas of concern when evaluating a project: Part Design, Mold Design, Material Selection and Process. To produce truly successful outcomes, HTI and Nexeo team members thoroughly assess and optimize each of these areas. They focus on asking the right questions, diagnosing the issues, and offering solutions based on solid data.

Part Design

There are many aspects to designing parts—from desired final appearance to determination of a product’s life cycle. When HTI approaches Nexeo with a new project, specific data must be gathered to move it into the next phase: Does the part need to be durable? Will it be disposable or be used many times? What external elements will it be exposed to—a harsh environment or aggressive chemicals, for example? Product engineers determine mechanical characteristics according to the amount of stress the part is expected to bear. Plastic often shifts and gives with use, so its dimensional stability is an important consideration.

Mold Design

When engineers design a mold, they must consider many factors that go into the production process and the final product. These include flow characteristics of the resin, varying wall thickness, how the plastic cools both in the mold and following release (creating dimensional stability), shrinkage, and gate dimensions and locations. Once all of these factors have been evaluated, the economics of the design must be evaluated to determine if the mold is feasible within a desired budget.

Process

Each resin has unique processing characteristics, so both the resin and the mold design must be evaluated for fill rate, energy content, melt viscosity, stability at melt temperature, and shrinkage. Material handling techniques, such as drying temperature, also will impact the outcome.

Material Selection

When deciding upon the right resin for the part, several factors must be considered. How will the component or product be used? How long is its projected life cycle? Is the product subject to regulatory compliances? What exterior elements will the product be exposed to? What is its desired cosmetic appearance? With these factors in mind, cost and availability of the selected resin then can be considered. HTI and Nexeo use an established process of resin selection that consists of four logical steps:

  1. Establish end-use requirements.
    End-use requirements address forces the part will be subjected to, such as load rate and duration, impact forces, and vibration. The environment to which the part will be exposed is considered as well. This might include prolonged outdoor exposure and weather conditions, as well as temperature ranges and chemicals. Often, secondary operations come into play, such as assembly techniques, maintenance, and end-of-life procedures.

  2. Rank these requirements.
    The established requirements are then ranked in order of priority, so the design team can identify which areas to fulfill first.

  3. Evaluate resin options within the scope of the requirements.
    Now the team can examine which resin types fulfill these requirements while remaining within desired cost range. Resin type with specs that fall completely or partly outside of this range must undergo a risk assessment.

  4. Conduct end-use testing.
    The part is subjected to testing that simulates normal use and storage, either in a laboratory or in the real-life environments where it will be used. This testing process is developed to specifically address each of the part requirements established in step 2. The process might include stress analysis, photo elasticity testing, an environmental chamber to test for temperature or humidity, or any of myriad other methods to ensure the component satisfies specifications.

A Time-Tested Partnership

HTI Plastics customers know their projects will be managed with the thorough attention and technical expertise that can result only from a solid and long-standing partnership. With excellent company partners like Nexeo Solutions in its business portfolio, HTI will continue delivering the superior services and high quality standards its clientele have come to rely on since 1985.