This week Pentagon plastics once again opened its doors to 23 product design and engineering students of the University of Brighton.
The Sussex based university has enjoyed positive relations with Pentagon Plastics for some years now, where by Pentagon provides the opportunity to those studying design and engineering at various levels to gain enhanced knowledge of product design for injection moulding, toolmaking, injection moulding processes and the moulding issues that can arise.
Design elements presentation
The site visits commenced with Managing Director, Paul Edwards giving a presentation in Pentagon’s purpose built first floor training room covering all of the above in detail and giving attendees the opportunity to ask any questions surrounding the injection moulding processes and design for injection moulding. Highlighting the importance of particular design elements such as draft angles, split lines and small, intricate component detail features. This session was complimented by the use of informative slides which are later supplied to the course tutor to be distributed to students accordingly.
Following on from this lecture style seminar, the students and tutors were then able to move freely around the factory, following strict health and safety guidelines. Enabling them to see first-hand the range of 10 moulding machines producing bespoke technical mouldings for a range of industry sectors, seeing how the mould tools are hung and exactly how they operate within the presses. Various forms of ejection systems are also visible as well as the various ways of drawing moulded products away from the machines.
Q & A with mould setters
Our experienced mould setters were on hand to answer any processing or material based questions, elaborating on the types of thermoplastics that are processed on site and highlighting the potential processing issues that high engineering polymers can bring. Students were also able to handle some of the physical components that are manufactured to better understand the types of product finish that can be produced via this method of plastic manufacture.
In our busy tool room, our skilled engineers walked the students through the various forms of mould tooling that we provide and deepened the understanding of how a mould tool is constructed. Looking at the interpretation of the 2D Tool Design and then moving on to Die Sets, Side movements, Collapsing Cores, Hot and Cold runner systems and outline when and why tooling features such as these may be required in the tooling of a product.
Pentagon is one of the few UK plastic injection moulders that also boasts a full on-site tool room and it is therefore of added value for the students to see both the mould tool manufacture and injection moulding process under one roof enabling them to fully understand the important relationship between the two processes.
The final leg of the Pentagon site visit includes the dedicated Post Moulding department, which continues to expand as more and more customers require services beyond the injection moulding stage. Taking on tasks such as insert fitting, drilling, milling and wax filling ensures products are finished to the required customer standard.
Throughout their time here, students were encouraged to ask questions to add value and depth to their studies; we believe that real on-site experience of the manufacturing process is key to creating skilled and knowledgeable product designers in the future.
Visit to sister company
This is the first time that we have been able to bring students from the University of Brighton over to our sister company Phoenix Engineering which was purchased in July 2016, specialising in complex mould tools for caps and closures, mould tool repairs, servicing and modifications. This further enhances the students time onsite and allows them to witness the complex process of manufacture involved in the larger, multi-cavity tools that are produced.
As with Pentagon the engineers at Phoenix were also on-hand for guidance and questions where required.
Steven Smith, course tutor says ‘‘Visits to companies like Pentagon Plastics are crucial to students’ understanding of industrial processes like injection moulding and tool making. In university lectures, we are able to describe the theory, but witnessing the operation in practice is an experience that will stay with them all of their professional lives. And the better they understand the constraints (and opportunities) of these materials and processes, the more likely it is that they, and their ideas, will succeed.
We are really grateful to Paul for his expert insights and to Gabby for setting the visit up and opening the students’ eyes to what is possible.’
All of the team at Pentagon and Phoenix support these student visits and enjoy sharing their knowledge and passion for our thriving UK industry.
The key point that we hope all attendees will take away with them is that ‘before you design your product you need to fully understand its manufacturing process and constraints’.