******************************** ******************************** /*************************** Typekit code ****************************/ mightaswell: Plastics in design

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Plastics in design

A decade ago, designers and manufacturers were in a spot. Products were selling for cheaper and cheaper, because of price-cutting retail outlets like Walmart, but customers were still expecting the same level of quality and value in those products. Because of this, lots of manufacturing was moved overseas, but even then, labor was the most expensive part of making something. So, in order to reduce assembly, part counts were reduced, which meant getting rid of quality details like dipped rubber handles, multi-color screwed together plastic parts, and glued in rubber grip inserts. And this worked on paper, but when shoppers looked at the stuff in the stores with all-one-color plastic parts, and cheap-feeling molded in grip-texture, they just got depressed. Isn't there some way to keep assembly down, while maintaining a complex looking final product?And the Plastics industry said "Sure, here you go." And they gave us a whole slough of processes for making parts that looked complicated, but were 100% machine made, and 100% cheap(ish).

"Here's a run down of some of the more popular processes:":