Ages ago, long before this blog was born, I did another blog about trade associations and corporate websites. I kept meaning to transfer at least bits of it over here, so everything was all in one place, but I never really got round to it. I thought I’d do it now, because I can’t be bothered to write anything new. Here is the third one (it’s a couple of years old, so the links might not work).

When I used to get the train from Worcester Park to Waterloo, if you looked out of the window just before Raynes Park, you could see a factory which had a huge sign saying MANUPLASTICS. It’s gone now. The company still exists, but they’ve moved to a new factory in South Wimbledon. That’s a bit of a shame because I loved seeing that factory. “Manuplastics” is such a brilliant word.

I like plastic.

The British Plastics Federation relaunched their website quite recently. I don’t know what their old site looked like because I only heard of the British Plastics Federation about half an hour ago. Their new website looks quite nice though.

There’s a picture of all different uses of plastic, look:

Some of them are obvious. Plastic bottles and crates and flasks and things. Do they make planes out of plastic? And what are those other pictures? OK, there’s a canoe, fair enough. And is that some hosing at the bottom under the crates? I don’t know what any of these other things are. But that just goes to show how versatile plastic is. It can be used to make things you can’t even recognise. Are those rawl plugs next to the hose to the left? Possibly. I didn’t realise Rawlplug is actually a brand name.

When they relaunched the new BPF website, they included two new tools, Plastipedia, “the world’s largest on-line plastics encyclopedia”, and Plastbook, a social networking site where plastics professionals can “exchange experience, answer plastics related questions and acquire sales leads”. Including these two tools was a shrewd move, and resulted in widespread publicity with mentions in Plastics And Rubbers Weekly and Glazine, the weekly email news for the glass, glazing & fenestration industries.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of plastics, the BPF have produced this educational video:

The guy doing the voiceover sounds like a cross between Terry Jones and that bloke on Saturday Kitchen who picks the wine and looks like Boris Johnson. The bit from about 2:35 to 3:45 is great. It’s taken from a film by Alan Pendry called “The Shape Of Plastics” (you can watch parts one and two on the BPF Youtube channel).

There’s something a little tragic about that Shape Of Plastics film. Plastic doesn’t have a particularly good reputation anymore, because of its environmental impact and because it’s perceived as being disposable and inauthentic, flimsy and lightweight (although I quite like all those characteristics). In that video though, plastic is seen as something cool, with that sort of hip jazz soundtrack and the slightly surreal pink tint. In the sixties, plastic was full of potential, “so many ways to make so many things”. All that Eero Aarnio furniture and space-age plastic clothing. Oh yeah, it looks funny now, but at least the people suggesting this stuff believed in progress, they believed in something, even if what they believed in was this. What do you believe in? Lolcats?

All of the words associated with manufacturing plastics sound brilliant:

1) Processing Thermoplastics
1.1 Blown Film
1.2 Extrusion Blow Moulding
1.3 Extrusion Profiles & Sheet
1.4 Injection Blow Moulding
1.5 Injection Moulding
1.6 Injection Moulding (Gas Assisted)
1.7 Injection Stretch Blow Moulding
1.8 Insert Moulding
1.9 Machining of Plastics
1.10 Moulding Expanded Polypropylene (EPP)
1.11 Moulding Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
1.12 Process Cooling
1.13 Rotational Moulding
1.14 Structural Foam
1.15 Thermoforming
1.16 Vacuum Forming
1.17 Other Extrusion Processes

2) Processing Thermosets
2.1 Pultrusion
2.2 Resin Transfer Moulding
2.3 SMC / DMC Moulding
2.4 Other GRP Moulding Techniques

3) Secondary Processing / Finishing
3.1 Welding
3.2 Product Decoration

At school, we had a small vacuum former – possibly a Compac Mini or something similar anyway. Nothing as impressive as any of the stuff at the new Manuplastics factory, that’s for sure.


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