Plastic success

Success is related to many million of plastic products manufactured worldwide; during the start of the 21st century over 350,100 million lb (156 million tons). USA consumed over 100,000 million lb; about 90% are thermoplastics (TPs) and 10% thermoset (TS) plastics. USA and Europe consumption are each about one-third of the world total. There are well over 35,000 different types of plastic materials worldwide. However, most of them are not used in large quantities; they have specific performance and/or cost capabilities generally for specific products by specific processes that principally include many thousands of products.

Plastics are now among the nations and world's most widely used materials, having surpassed steel on a volume and weight basis. Plastic materials and products cover the entire spectrum of the world's economy, so that their fortunes are not tied to any particular business segment. Designers are in a good position to benefit in a wide variety of markets: packaging, building and construction, electronics and electrical, furniture, apparel, appliances, agriculture, housewares, luggage, transportation, medicine and health care, recreation, and so on (Chapter 4).

To meet this success what is required is a skilled designer who blends a knowledge of materials, an understanding of manufacturing processes, and imagination into successful new designs. Recognizing the limits of design with traditional materials is the first step in exploring the possibilities for innovative design with plastics. What is important when analyzing plastic designs is the ease to incorporate ergonomics and empathy that results in products that truly answers the user's needs.

With designing there has always been the need to meet engineering, styling, and performance requirements at the lowest cost. To some there may appear to be a new era where ergonomics is concerned, but this is not true. What is always new is that there are continually easier methods on the horizon to simplify and meet all the specific requirements of a design. Some designers operate by creating only the stylish outer appearance, allowing basic engineers to work within that outside envelope. Perhaps this is all that is needed to be successful, but a more in-depth approach will work better. Recognize that when you gain a property, etc. there could be a loss. Beginning with a thorough understanding of the user's needs and design toward ease of manufacture and repair. The product that emerges will then be a logical and aesthetic answer to the design challenge.

Manufacturers need to continually update their traditional design methods in order to keep pace with rapidly evolving technologies and an increasingly demanding marketplace. Consumer demand products that are increasingly faster, easier to use, and lower in cost.

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