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Articles from 2007 In May


New 4-Channel Quadrature Encoder Input Board from United Electronic Industries

New 4-Channel Quadrature Encoder Input Board from United Electronic Industries

United Electronic Industries Inc. announced its new DNA-QUAD-604, a 4-channel quadrature encoder input board available for its cube-based data acquisition and control systems. The new board has a maximum input frequency of 16.5 MHz, 32-bit counters, a 32-bit prescaler and inputs for A, B and Z standards.

The board has four additional digital inputs and eight digital outputs, which may be used as auxiliary digital I/Os or set up as trigger in/out or clock out for each channel. UEI provides software drivers for most standard software applications, programming languages and operating systems, and is connected externally through a standard 37-pin D connector.

DNA-QUAD-604 for United Electronic Industries cube-based data acquisition and control systems
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A fastening subject: Dual Lock, Velcro, Super Glue or suction

A fastening subject: Dual Lock, Velcro, Super Glue or suction

With 55,000 products, 3M is one of the most interesting, diverse and innovative companies on the planet. The company just sent me several packages of Dual Lock Recloseable Fasteners that could solve my inability to neatly affix my portable GPS to the dashboard of my car. My first blog post in November described how the Garmin windshield suction cup bracket continually failed. 

3M will probably won't like me saying this, but Dual Lock strikes me as a better Velcro-like product. Actually, the Velcro folks (yes, Velcro is a company, too) might be more mad because the Velcro company makes a lot more than what I and certain many think of as Velcro - those cheap strips, sticky on the side, hoop and loop on the other - that you buy at Home Depot. HD carries both Velcro and off-brands. Velcro, the company, has hundreds of Velcro-like products (there I go again) that I am sure rival many of 3M's similar fasteners.

After the suction cup on the bracket repeatedly failed, I tried Velcro-like strips from Home Depot. They failed, too (they probably were not the Velcro brand). So now, I will try some variant of 3M's Dual Lock Reclosable Fasteners from the company's Industrial Adhesives and Tapes Division. What nice is that the  technology feels stronger, holding more uniformly across the two fasteners parts that are joined. What's more, they snap into place, but can be separated like Velcro although a screwdriver is is some cases may be needed. And they don't just rely on a sticky back…several of the Piece Parts  come with recessed screw holes, clips and protuberances providing for a secure, neat and permanent bond to, say, a car dashboard. The come in both tape and a very solid feeling hard polypropylene

So stay tuned to find out if Dual Lock works. The GPS unit doesn't weight much, but with the swivel bracket which I will still use, the unit is a bit unwieldly, progressively pulled down by the weight of the cord for the cigarette lighter power adapter. Over time, weight, vibration and hand movement of the display separated the Velcro-like tape and weakened the stickum even with the application of a few small drops of a Super Glue-like adhesive (Loctite, as I recall).

  

      

 

    

Scanners Test the Limits of Mechatronics

Scanners Test the Limits of Mechatronics

When you need to scan objects in all kinds of settings at up to 120,000 3D measurements per second and with a +/- 3 mm accuracy at 25m, your technology platform had better be precise and robust.

That's the challenge that faced FARO Technologies, a global company with headquarters in Lake Mary, FL, as its engineers developed the latest version of the Laser Scanner LS. With more than 13,500 installations worldwide, FARO offers a suite of portable measurement devices for applications ranging from architecture and road building to OEM manufactured products.

The FARO Laser Scanner LS is a portable, computerized measurement device that scans, digitally recreates,and then records all of an object's dimensions, creating what looks like a "photograph" on the computer screen - but in 3-D. Engineers use the captured datato create a digital model for inspection, reverse-engineering, CAD-to-part comparison or factory planning.

Birth of a Scanner

For its third-generation Laser Scanner LS, which this year includes new color and mobile versions, FARO engineers had to make key changes in every major system. In the mechanical realm, the scanner incorporates a new pan axis that rotates the device 360 deg horizontally, as well as a mirror axis to deflect the laser beam 90 deg and send it out in a circular fashion in a 320 deg vertical sweep.

In the system's optics, engineers added a sensor unit that sends a modulated laser beam via a mirror to an object, and then receives the reflected light from the same mirror through a lens system.

New electronic components include sensors that create a 3X modulated voltage, detect the reflected light and compare the phase shift of sent and received light in three frequencies. A PC controls the whole scanner and, in a synchronized fashion, adds the 3X phase into the mirror angle and the pan angle to polar coordinates.

Blending all these technologies into a highly precise product demands both a mechatronics design approach and close cooperation among the engineering disciplines designing the scanner, notes Dr. Bernd-Dietmar Becker, an electrical engineer and director of product management for FARO.

"The scanner is an excellent example of a complex instrument that brings together mechanical, optical, electrical, control and software technology," says Becker. "It is not very easy to achieve this large field of view and precise 3D representation of reality. If, for example, the mechanical and optical systems do not perform precisely as they should, you will see it immediately in the scanned image."

A key challenge in the electronics area was adjusting for what engineers refer to as "noise" in the photomultiplier component. "If you send a laser beam 10 times to the same spot, it won't measure the exact same distance all the time," says Becker. "Only the average of the points will reflect the accurate distance."

To counter the noise problems, engineers used a combination of software-based noise compression, shielding and preamplifier components.

As for engineering tools on the Laser Scanner LS project, engineers used Autodesk's Inventor 3D modeling for mechanical design, Intusoft's SPICE for circuit design and proprietary software for optics design and FPGA simulation. They also turned to MATLAB to simulate noise levels in the system.

Responding to User Needs

In the OEM world, the new scanner is becoming a key fixture in such industries as aerospace and shipbuilding, notes Becker. For example, metrology specialists at Direct Dimensions, Owings Mills, MD, relied on the Laser Scanner LS to generate a digital model of the outer airflow surface of a business jet. The goal was to gather enough detailed data to perform a virtual wind tunnel analysis on the plane, which had undergone numerous modifications over the years. With the scanner, Direct Dimensions needed only six hours to digitally capture the entire surface, nose to tail. The data was later converted to a wire frame and then imported to a CAD model using NURBS tools.

"Because the FARO LS brings in so much data at once," says Michael Raphael, owner of Direct Dimensions, "it really compresses the time we spend on site collecting data and tying up the client's assets.

But FARO isn't resting on its laurels. This year, it is launching new color and "super mobile" versions of the Laser Scanner LS. "Scans are usually in black and white because adding high-quality, color information to millions of 3-D pixels was difficult and time consuming," says Becker.

When combined with a specially calibrated color bracket, Nikon D200 camera and FARO Scene v4.1 software, the FARO Laser Scanner LS provides high-speed capture of 50 million color pixels in just 2.5 minutes.

Increasingly, too, customers want to reposition laser scanners to get a more comprehensive view or take scanners into dirty or hazardous environments, such as mines or even nuclear reactors. This led to the recent introduction of a Super Mobile Laser Scanner Kit for the LS. Among other components, the kit includes a Wi-Fi/WLAN Scanner Connection that enables users to control scanning from their PDA, mobile phone, laptop or other Internet-equipped devices. There's also a scanner-based web server, which gives scanning control to as many as different users as needed, without additional license fees.

What's next for FARO? The company is currently developing a "pulse-based" scanner that promises to give customers more capability in taking long-distance scans.Customers will be able to exchange this new module with the existing phase-based LS modules to gain more than 250m range.

EIA Offers Framework for Electronics Recycling Legislation

EIA Offers Framework for Electronics Recycling Legislation

The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) has released a consensus framework that is intended to pave the way for federal legislation establishing a national program for recycling household TVs and information technology products such as computers and monitors. The EIA's Environmental Issues Council, which includes companies such as HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Sharp, approved the plan, and EIA officials have delivered copies to the Bush Administration, key lawmakers on Capital Hill, state officials, industry stakeholders and environmental advocacy organizations.

The framework calls for a bifurcated financing approach, separating TVs from desktop computers, laptops and computer monitors to reflect their divergent business models, market composition and consumer base. TVs have an expected lifecycle of 15 to 17 years and are purchased by individual consumers from retailers. News entrants can rapidly gain a significant share of the market only to disappear a few years later.

Under the EIA proposal, TV collection and recycling would be primarily conducted by an industry-sponsored third party organization and initially supported by a nominal fee paid by consumers at the point of purchase. The fee would eventually expire once a significant number of legacy sets are recovered.

IT equipment has an expected lifecycle of six to eight years and is more often sold directly to the consumer. The EIA proposal calls for each producer of IT equipment to implement a program to collect and recycle its products in a manner that is convenient for household consumers and at no cost to them. IT manufacturers would have to offer such a program as a condition of conducting business.

All programs, whether for TVs or IT equipment, will have to ensure that they rely solely on service providers that satisfy established environmentally sound management standards and related business practices. EIA is one of numerous stakeholders actively participating in an effort being facilitated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop best management practices for electronics recyclers.

"This policy framework is the culmination of extensive industry dialogue and negotiation," says Rick Goss, EIA's VP of environmental affairs. "Across the board, manufacturers made concessions to produce this consensus agreement. We sincerely hope that other stakeholders will be motivated by the same spirit of compromise as we seek a uniform recycling program that our country wants and needs."

EIA's interim president and CEO, Mike Flanigan, adds, "This framework represents the first consensus agreement among IT and TV manufacturers on meeting the nation's electronics recycling challenge. We're offering these ideas to advance the work of Senator Ron Wyden, Representatives Mike Thompson, Mary Bono, Louise Slaughter, Zach Wamp, Albert Wynn and so many others seeking a national solution.

Korea RoHS Sets Jan. 1, 2008 Compliance Date

Korea RoHS Sets Jan. 1, 2008 Compliance Date

The newest RoHS was set in motion by Korea on April 2. The compliance date is Jan. 1, 2008. And like many of the emerging RoHS-style environmental regulations, the details of compliance are not clear.

Industry experts see some similarities between Korea RoHS and China RoHS, especially when it comes to the vague nature of the legislation. "In a way it's reminiscent of China RoHS - what was released is frustrating," says Michael Kirschner, president of Design Chain Associates, a San Francisco firm that helps companies with environmental compliance. "Korea RoHS needs clarifications, and they will come through presidential decrees. That means the details remain to be seen."

The Korea Ministry of Environment has indicated the restrictions will be consistent with the European Union's (EU) RoHS, but this was not officially pronounced through the legislation. Kirschner notes that some of the most critical details have still not been released by Korea. "We don't even know what the scope is officially," says Kirschner. "There is no information about scope or the exemption process or even what the restricted materials are."

One difference between China RoHS and Korea RoHS is that Korea is not requiring OEMs to label their product as compliant. "It will not have a labeling requirement, which is a slight change from previous RoHS legislation," says Kirschner. "What they will have to do is register. You'll have to register and say that your product will comply with the legislation."

Korea RoHS also have a recycling provision that differs from the EU's WEEE directive.. "The Korea restrictions are more prescriptive than the WEEE directive for recycling," says Kirschner. "The intent is to start recycling with products in electronic and electrical such as PCs, TVs, and copy and fax machines."

Design Chain Associate's Korean consulting partner, EcoFrontier, has published a free English translation of Korea RoHS.

Scanners Test the Limits of Mechatronics

The challenge: How to recreate the real world in seconds

Special Alert: In-Mold Decorating

Special Alert: In-Mold Decorating

May 31, 2007
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Spotlight Story:

New Trade Group Targets Decorating
Engineers designing plastic parts enjoy plenty of alternatives when it comes to choosing colors and finishes for their products, but a new trade group believes there's still a lot to be learned about in-mold decorating. Ronald Schultz, executive director of the In-Mold Decorating Association, discusses technologies of interest to design engineers. Full Story
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Featured Stories:
New Plastics Enhance Design PotentialHigh-flow resins from GE Plastics allow molders to shoot parts at lower injection pressures, allowing larger and thinner components greater detail. KetaSpire, a new PEEK resin from Solvay, offers engineers a strong, lightweight alternative to metals and ceramics for demanding applications in aerospace, healthcare and automotive. Full Story
Mold-Making Magic Speeds Production Using reverse engineering techniques, a California manufacturer of motorcycle accessories is not only cutting production time on molds by 75 percent but creating parts that boast finer detail. Actual parts are rotationally molded in ABS plastic using hand-laid-up molds. Full Story
Colors Make the Difference in Medical PlasticsIncreasingly color is being used for fast identification of instruments in medical settings, such as surgery. Suppliers are adding pigment materials to special grades of medical plastics, so color can't be washed off even under pressurized steam during autoclave sterilization. Full Story
The Latest Phillips Plastics Resources Available:
Applying the Finishing Touch
The Precision Decorating arm of Phillips Plastics proves there's plenty of value to be added at the end of the molding process. Find out how to add more visual appeal to products ranging from automotive components and consumer electronics to medical and sporting goods.
The ABCs of Precision Decorating
Steve Axtman, manager of Phillips' Plastics Precision Decorating facility, tells engineers how to make the most of the company's extensive painting, finishing and laser techniques. It's one-stop shopping for customers that want their products to stand out from the competition.

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Postal Address: Phillips Plastics Corporation, 1201 Hanley Road, Hudson, WI 54016


New Trade Group Targets Decorating
New Plastics Enhance Design Potential
Mold-Making Magic Speeds Production
Colors Make the Difference in Medical Plastics
Applying the Finishing Touch
The ABCs of Precision Decorating
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Applying the Finishing Touch

Applying the Finishing Touch

Not long ago, Kevin Jensen and his application-engineer colleagues at Phillips Plastics went on a shopping spree for items ranging from cosmetics to power tools.

The goods weren't for themselves. Assigned to Phillips' Precision Decorating facility in Medford, WI, the engineers wanted to dress up these items with new finishes, laser etching and other techniques. The goal: Entice potential customers to think "out of the box" about the way their products look and feel.

"Consumers today want products that are personalized to their own tastes," notes Jensen, a veteran of 26 years in precision decorating. "It used to be that we would finish a million car radios in the same color. Now, we are doing 20 different color options for that same volume."

Phillips is uniquely qualified to meet this mounting demand for distinct, consumer-pleasing products. Steve Axtman, plant manager at the Medford facility, cites a growing litany of automation capabilities for precision decorating, including: 18 molding machines, three paint systems and five lasers. Even more vital: some 260 employees totally dedicated to the decorating function.

"Technology is moving so fast that you can no longer have generalists overseeing projects," explains Axtman. "We have technical specialists who focus entirely on such areas as molding, painting and laser techniques, as well as assembly methods."

Establish An Early Alliance

To make the most of these extensive capabilities, customers should begin working with Phillips before the design is frozen, say Phillips' engineers. "We often make design suggestions that will both improve manufacturability, such as parts consolidation, as well as enhance a part's appearance in the decorating stage," notes Jensen.

Phillips routinely handles decorating jobs ranging from 1000 parts to millions. Many parts can be molded, painted, laser-etched and assembled in as little as 48 hours, notes Axtman. Project lead times, starting from the end of product design through completion of decorating, typically range from 10 to 12 weeks. Phillips completed one recent job for a radio manufacturer in 6 weeks.

What's hot with customers today? High-gloss finishes like piano black, and high-gloss silver that can be applied to look like chrome at about half the cost, says Jensen. Also very popular: soft feel finishes for hand-held devices that take on the tactile sensation of rubber, velvet or even leather, depending on the process.

The Phillips Precision Decorating facility has become a well-known leader in laser etching, widely used in automotive to create a back-lit effect on dash boards, radios and armrest controls during night-time driving. Phillips also offers lasing to raw resin to create highly durable numbers and other graphics on parts. The technique is used, for instance, to mark serial numbers on the barrel of a Smith & Wesson revolver and recommended dosages on an insulin pen.

Meanwhile, the company continues to search for even more decorative options. Phillips recently spent more than $1.1 million on new emissions control equipment to block volatile organic compounds. "That enabled us to add a number of new exotic paints to the extensive line we already offer," points out Axtman.

The company also is exploring new manufacturing techniques, such as 360-degree painting, which eliminates running a part through the paint line twice, a substantial cost savings.

These commitments in turn are fueling a successful campaign by Phillips Precision Decorating to branch out from its strong automotive roots and apply its finishing touch to items ranging from consumer products to sporting goods. And everything in between.

Phillips routinely handles decorating jobs ranging from 1,000 parts to millions and in applications from automotive to consumer goods to medical. Among the hot trends: high-gloss and soft-feel finishes, as well as laser-etching for back-lit effects.
The ABCs of Precision Decorating

The ABCs of Precision Decorating

Design News: How has precision decorating evolved over the years at Phillips?

Steve Axtman, plant manager, Phillips Plastics Precision Decorating facility: Our precision decorating operation, based in Hudson, WI, is the second oldest facility in the corporation. We started off producing a proprietary line of knobs and then about 18 years ago moved into more specialized areas, such as paint laser-etching, which addressed the growing interest in backlit components.We began with one paint system and one type of laser and now have grown to the point where we a multitude of paint types, three paint systems and five dual-head lasers.

When do customers typically begin to think about precision decorating?

Axtman: For the best results, customers should be thinking about the finishing process right at the design stage. You really need to design a part to enhance painting. For example, when you have parts with sharp angles, paint tends to build up on the edges to create a windowing effect, or it will chip off. So thinking about the geometric shape of parts is very important if you want a robust decorating process.

When in the manufacturing process does decorating occur?

Axtman: We first injection-mold the part. Our facility has 18 injection molding machines, but we also take parts coming from our custom molding and multi-shot molding facilities. Whatever the source, we automatically load the parts onto paint fixtures and move them to the paint system. When they come out of the oven, the parts can them move to another station for further finishing, such as laser-etching for backlit components. It then goes to the assembly department.

How long does it take for a part to go through all these stages?

Axtman: About 48 hours. And the projects we handle can range from as low as 1000 parts into the millions.

What about lead times for projects?

Axtman: Starting with the design stage for a part and moving to the completion of the decorating process, most projects takes from 10 to 12 weeks, but we can move faster than that if needed.

What are some of the finishes that tend to be popular today with customers?

Axtman: The most popular finishes today are metallics and high-gloss finishes, as well as textured finishes, such as the soft-feel finishes. Metallics tend to be multi-coast systems, while high-gloss starts with a base coat and then a clear finishing coat. Texturing is accomplished either by designing that effect into the part or by adding texture to the paint.

What's involved with laser-etching?

Axtman: Let's take the radio in your car as an example. The buttons typically will have nice white graphics. To accomplish that effect, the part is molded in a clear or translucent color. Then the part gets a white coat of paint, and then a black coat. With the laser-etching process, we create the desired graphic by removing the black layer. The resulting effect is that you have color in the day time, and at night, when you turn your lights on, the graphics light up.

What about the laser marking option?

Axtman: Here, we use lasing on the raw resin to create a graphic that is much more durable than pad printing or hot stamping. Laser marking has become very popular for applying graphics to plastic plumbing fixtures, such as shower heads and faucet knobs. For John Deere, we are laser-marking graphics on the control space for a deck-lowering unit. In the medical area, we mark a graphic arrow on an insulin pen that helps set up the correct dosage. These are just a few examples, but the point is that you can achieve very precise, clear and durable graphics.

Taking a look inside your facility, can you describe what would be your state of the art paint system?

Axtman: That would be our new paint 5 machine, which is literally a city within a city. It has its own HVAC system, power system and air filtration system. It features 5 robots and one of the industry's most advanced cleaning systems. In the cleaning system, which was adapted from techniques used in the semiconductor industry, we take very clean CO 2 under high pressure and create snow. When this substance hits a part, it mechanically moves debris, and then a vacuum system removes the debris. After the parts are cleaned, they go through a preheat system, which relaxes the molecular structure for better paint adhesion. A smart conveyor then takes the part to one of the system's two booths, where they are painted by a six-axis robot. As an example of what we can do, a robot would apply a base coat to a part in booth number one. Then the part would go off for a quick heated flash-off operation before going into booth number two where it gets a high-gloss clear coat. Finally, the part enters a full bake oven.

What is the range of industries that you serve with your facility?

Axtman: For many years, automotive has dominated our customer list, but we have a strong push to diversify to other applications as well. We are looking to bring in new program in such as areas as sporting goods, consumer durables, electronics, and even cosmetic cases. Besides decorating parts that we have molded, we can also decorate and assemble parts that others have produced. We are really encouraging our staff to think out of the box and suggest new precision decorating ideas to customers that are both cost effective and visually appealing. More customers also understand that the Phillips Plastics precision decorating operation gives them one-stop-stopping: molding, a wide range of finishes, lasing and assembly.

Equipment for precision decorating at Phillips includes: 18 molding machines, three automated paint systems and five dual-head lasers.
New Association Touts In-Mold Decorating

New Association Touts In-Mold Decorating

Engineers designing plastic parts enjoy plenty of alternatives when it comes to choosing colors and finishes for their products, but a new trade group believes there's still a lot to be learned about one option: in-mold decorating.

The In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA), started in 2006 and based in Scottsdale, AZ, intends to target designers with white papers, seminars and other information, says Executive Ronald Schultz, a long-time consultant to the flexible packaging industry. By considering in-mold decorating choices early in the design cycle, notes Schultz, engineers can save costs while enhancing the visual appeal of their products.

In a recent interview with Design News, Schultz answered questions about the goals of the new association and how it differs from similar groups, such as the Decorating & Assembly Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

Design News: Why the need for a new association to focus on in-mold decorating?

Schultz: I started the annual International In-Mold Labeling Conference back in 1992, and over the years I kept hearing attendees say that there was no trade group that was focusing on in-mold labeling and in-mold decorating on behalf of end users and manufacturers. This really came to a head in 2004, when we began to look around for a trade association that might be able to represent our interests. But the problem was that the existing groups tended to focus on narrow aspects of our technology, such as the Label Printing Industries of America, or the Society of Plastics Engineers. The solution was to do it the hard way and to start an association from scratch. And it fell to me to take the lead, based on my years of experience with the In-Mold Labeling (IML) Conference and with seminars conducted by my company, RBS Technologies, on such topics as the ABCs of IML.

Design News: So your association seeks to represent a wide audience?

Schultz: Yes. The value chain represented by this technology includes material suppliers, molders, printers, and manufacturers of a variety of machines, such as robots, injection-molding machines, die-cutting equipment and much more. Then, of course, there are the end users, such as the OEMs that make durable goods and the Procter and Gambles that manufacture packaged goods. All of these sectors have to work together very closely to have a successful in-mold decorating project. Otherwise, you risk a lot of finger pointing and failures.

Design News : What processes fall under in-mold labeling (IML)?

Schultz: In the in-mold labeling process, a label or applique is placed in the open mold and held in the desired position by vacuum ports, electrostatic attraction or other appropriate means. The mold closes and molten plastic resin is extruded or injected into the mold where it conforms to the shape of the object. The hot plastic envelopes the label, making it an integral part of the molded object. The difference between glue applied labels and in-mold labels is that a glue applied label is stuck "on" the surface of the plastic object The in-mold label is imbedded "in" the wall of the object, so it is much durable than pressure-sensitive or heat transfer labels. You also eliminate all the costs of post-mold equipment and labeling operations because the in-mold labeled product is ejected from the mold fully labeled.

Design News: And how about in-mold decorating?

Schultz: IML usually refers to blow-molded, injection-molded or thermoformed packaging. In contrast, the term IMD (in-molding decorating) usually refers to decoration of higher value on durable plastic products, such as children's toys, sporting goods, automobile dash board bezels, and cell phone face plates. The list is almost endless. In-mold decorated durable goods can be injection molded, blow molded, or rotationally molded.

Design News: Can you give an example of an IMD process?

Schultz: One popular technique is foil in-mold decorating, a process by which a transfer or decal is imprinted onto a release line or carrier on a web. The web in turn passes through the mold and is indexed into the mold. The mold closes, and the plastic is injected into the mold and the image is picked off the carrier and transferred to the product. This option is not a good one for deep-drawn products or products that require complex steps. Another popular option, often used in the injection-molding of cell phone face plates, features a decorative mold insert. For example, this insert might consist of a second surface printed onto a Lexan film 10 to 20 millimeters thick. The insert is preformed and placed into the mold and married to the rest of the product.

Design News: What are some of the prime challenges facing your association?

Schultz: Manufacturers of plastic products that are long accustomed to pressure sensitive or other forms of post-mold decoration are either unaware of the benefits of IML/IMD or consider these processes to be too complicated and/or too expensive. One of the primary goals of IMDA is to help OEMs and marketers understand that in-mold decoration can produce a better product at lower costs.

Design News: What groups are you targeting for your educational message?

Schultz:We are working very hard to understand the application needs of end users. If you look at our website (www.imdassociation.com), you will see that we are trying to find ways to support for all the major players in the value chain. We have such aids as a "Getting Started Guide" and "Trouble Shooting Guide," and we are hard at work on case studies. So we want to get into the nitty-gritty of the technology for engineers and suppliers.

Design News: Is there an education gap with design engineers when it comes to understanding in-mold decorating and labeling?

Schultz: Yes. There are simply so many choices out there when the engineer comes to the point of deciding how to decorate a product in such a way that it will enhance its value, while still keeping costs in line. If you choose the wrong decorating method, it can lead to early product failures in the field. As with all aspects of design, engineers need to think about the decorating options as early as possible in the design process. And one of our missions, through courses and seminars, will be to educate engineers on how to choose the right option for a given application.