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Dan Thurmond
By Dan Thurmond
Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 14:51

Over the years Elite Plastics has maintained its ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System Certification, and as of last year AS9100C registration. The ISO registration is the industry quality system standard, while AS9100C registration has additional standards, specifically developed to better serve the aerospace industry. The certification brings many benefits to Elite Plastics customers, whether they require the certification or not.

Improved product reliability – Whether through extensive testing or design, having a documented, reviewed and certified quality systems, result greater reliability.

Better process control and flow – Strict change control and manufacturing standards, help created consistency and perfection in the manufacturing process.

Better documentation of process – The manufacturing process is document clearly and monitored. This makes a difference in preventing errors from happening and remedying the error when it does occur.

Greater employee quality awareness – More responsibility amongst those manufacturing the parts, helping to create and encourage a culture of high quality among the team manufacturing the part.

Reductions in product scrap, rework and rejections – Fewer errors and defects results in less waste. Creating a savings for Elite Plastics and customers.

The result of all these benefits, beyond better parts, means reduced costs. To learn more about our quality system certifications please visit the resources section on the GM Nameplate website.

Ken Roney
By Ken Roney
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:34

In part two of this series we discussed Process Control and, specifically, what “control” means. The control chart is very helpful tool in identifying unwanted variation in a production process. The goal of statistical control is to identify process variation and to determine which variation is beyond our control, that is, variation that is inherent to the particular process we are employing, and which variation is “special” or assignable. This type of variation is outside of the “normal” variation we typically see in a process. It can be identified using statistical tools and reduced/eliminated from the normal process.

First, let’s discuss variation. In a perfect world there would be no variation. Whenever we turned on a machine it would turn out the exact same part every time we used it. As you are well aware, we don’t live in this perfect world. There are many inputs to a given production process that must all work together to produce parts that will satisfy customer requirements. Machines can fail, internal parts wear out, temperatures change, molding tools wear over time, materials can subtly change from lot to lot, etc. By measuring key characteristics of the finished part we can evaluate the process that made it. Using control charts we can identify “normal” variation from special cause variation (a mold wear issue or machine settings that are not set properly) and take steps to eliminate these special causes and return the process to “normal”.

Two charts regularly used at Elite Plastics are Individual Charts and Xbar-R charts. Both charts feature a Center Line which is the mean (average) for the particular data set being studied and upper and lower Control Limits, which are statistically calculated from the same data set. Measurement data for key characteristics are collected and entered at regular intervals over time.

This example shows the center line and upper and lower control limits of a contr

This example shows the center line and upper and lower control limits of a control chart.

Note that specification limits are not used for these charts. Control charts show process variation. It is up to the company to adjust the process to match the specifications required by the customer.

The control limits, calculated statistically, represent plus/minus three standard deviations from the average (mean). These lines represent the threshold at which the process output is considered to be statistically “unlikely”. In other words, the control limits represent the division of the “natural variation” of a process from the “unlikely” variation that is occurring due to special or assignable causes that can be eliminated from the process. Data points that appear outside of these control limits or unusual data runs (data increasing or decreasing over 6 or more successive measurements) should be investigated so that the source of the assignable variation can be determined and eliminated. An advantage of identifying and dealing with this variation early is that steps can be taken to prevent problems before any out-of-specification parts are produced. This maximizes machine and material efficiency which, in turn, lowers production costs.

This concludes our three part series on Statistical Process Control at Elite Plastics. I hope that this has been helpful in describing our efforts to maximize our production efficiency by building quality into our production processes. 

 

 

By Dan Thurmond
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 11:55

Aerospace ImageIt has been a busy time here at Elite Plastics.  After more than a year of preparation, we just announced that Elite Plastics has qualified for AS9100C.  In addition, we have also been added to the Boeing Qualified Processor List (QPL) for injection molding.  While that is great news for our aerospace customers, it also benefits all of our customers across the spectrum of industries that we serve.    

For those of you that are not familiar with AS9100C, it is a quality management standard for the aerospace industry.  We pursued this certification as both a path for improving Elite Plastics and extending our product offering with Boeing and other aerospace customers.   Considering that we already cater to quality conscious industries such as medical and automotive, seeking AS9100C was an exciting new challenge for EP.

This new level of control will benefit all EP customers by allowing us to produce exceptional molded, decorated and assembled components.  We have evaluated our quality management system to streamline and improve every step possible, ensuring stringent quality and improved cost controls. That means our customers will receive even better service and reliability from Elite Plastics. 

While it has been a lot of work, it is also rewarding to see all of that hard work pay off.  Congratulations to the entire Elite Plastics team who have gone the extra mile to meet the AS9100C quality standard!   

Greg Shulman
By Greg Shulman
Monday, November 28, 2011 - 16:42

The world of biomaterials is really still in its infancy within the plastics industry. Currently, most biopolymers on the market are intended to replace commodity grade plastics, such as polystyrene or polyethylene, though there are some materials which are being developed for engineering grade applications, as well. Additionally, there is a great deal of time and money being spent to further this market and increase the material selection currently available. However, for those who aren’t already familiar with the materials, some of the terminologies used to classify biopolymers can be somewhat ambiguous. Words like “bio-based” or “bio-degradable” might sound alike, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. So, if you’re in the market for a green material solution for your injection molding project or even if you’re just a bit confused by an existing product’s marketing terminology, here are some quick definitions to help you navigate basic biopolymer properties:

Bio-degradable- This is the most commonly misinterpreted term. Biodegradable means that a material will break down into biologically useful components in natural environments, without pressure or high heats. This means that a biodegradable material will, theoretically, dissolve on the side of the road, on a forest floor, or at the bottom of a lake.

Compostable- This means that a material can be broken down in the presence of oxygen, heat, and pressure into components which will be biologically useful. Keep in mind that these materials can be produced with varying degrees of compostability—some materials might be able to break down in a consumer’s small compost pile at home, while others may need to be processed in an industrial composting facility using high heat and pressure in order to break down properly.

Bio-based- This means that the material was produced using renewable sources of plant matter (such as potato or corn starch), as opposed to petroleum products. Bio-based materials may or may not be biodegradable or compostable.

As the popularity of biomaterials increases, new and improved products will become available on the market offering properties comparable to current petroleum based engineering grade plastics.

 

By Greg Shulman
Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 15:28

Selecting which plastic material to use for your injection molding process can be a lot like deciding on a new car—you have to know what you need to use it for in order to make the right decision. You wouldn’t buy a sport car if you needed to haul gravel, would you? Just like with vehicles, plastic grades each have their own strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the things that I love about plastics—there is no “best” type of plastic. The best kind of polymer for any project is one that will perform accordingly with the part’s intended use in the most cost effective way.

For instance, polycarbonate is a very popular material. It is very tough, can be colored in all kinds of ways, and has a relatively high working temperature. However, being an amorphous plastic, it is not very resistant to chemical degradation. So if your part will see lots of cleaning with harsh chemicals, polycarbonate might not be the direction you should look in.

Likewise, you may have a part that needs high abrasion properties. In this case, nylon would be a great choice! However, nylon has a tendency to absorb water and lose its mechanical properties in the process. So if your part’s working environment is fairly wet, an acetal might be a better choice for your project.

It is essential, when selecting materials, to keep two things in mind—what you need a plastic to be able to do, and what environmental conditions your parts will encounter. The goal here is to use a material in an environment where it encounters some or all of its positives and none of its weaknesses. And hey, if you’re in need of a bit of help, that’s one of things that the engineering team here at Elite Plastics is for. We can help you figure out what will and won’t work and can even make suggestions for your projects. Ultimately, however, the choice is up to you. So what does your project need?