1. How to Choose: The Truth About Resins

    By Scott Rishell, Design Engineer, Mack Molding and Kathleen Murray, Communications Manager, Synectic Engineering

    One of the largest advantages of choosing Synectic Engineering for your next project is its relationship with its parent company Mack Molding. As a leading custom plastics molder and contract manufacturer serving a range of markets – medical, industrial, transportation, energy/environment, computer/business and consumer – Mack’s customers are varied and so are their needs. Mack’s 95+ years of molding allows them to choose materials based on customer specifications, moldability of design, and cost. Choosing the right material early in the design process, streamlines the time and cost to market by picking the correct path every time. This a value add in the design cycle, for both our clients and our design process.

    To meet the diverse requirements presented by so many programs, Mack has vertically integrated services, including design, prototyping, supply chain management, machining, sheet metal fabrication, molding, painting, assembly, testing and even fulfillment. Working together, we are able to offer our client’s a full portfolio of services from concept to production. Synectic and Mack combined have over 130 years of knowledge and experience allowing us to stay competitive in an always changing market.

    One area where we often find the most distinctiveness is in resin selection. Mack has a wide portfolio of molded parts, and each is unique based on the customers’ requirements. Beyond aesthetics, like color, a material’s properties, processability and cost all play a key role in determining a resin’s suitability for an application. With thousands of grades to choose from, and new ones being developed to fill market niches, customers often turn to us to help them navigate the resin selection process.

    Here are some of our key considerations we weigh when making a selection:

    Mechanical Requirements
    A part’s strength requirements need to be considered as resin classes have various tensile strength, tensile modulus and elongation at break. Thermoplastic resins offer a variety of strength properties that can often be modified with fillers like glass or carbon fiber.

    Chemical Compatibility
    Many customers are concerned about how chemicals, including cleaning solvents and process reagents, interact with their resin selection. In these cases we consult published testing data from resin manufacturers that show a material’s performance in each chemical.  In some cases the data may not exist and testing with specific chemicals will be requested.

    Environmental Compatibility
    Parts that will be exposed to extreme hot or cold conditions need to be made with resins that are rated accordingly, making the long term service temperature and heat deflection temperature critical performance metrics. Other conditions to consider include exposure to UV light and high humidity.

    Commodity vs. Performance
    Whenever possible Mack strives to pair customer applications with commodity resin grades due to the inherent cost and availability advantages that come with higher volume raw material production.  Some projects call for specific properties – strength, heat resistance, etc. – which is where performance resins excel.

    Amorphous vs. Semi-crystalline
    Selecting amorphous resins can often be advantageous as they can provide wider processing windows and improved dimensional control due to their random molecular structure. They can be transparent and are compatible with many adhesives. Semi-crystalline materials offer improved mechanical and thermal properties but can be more difficult to process.

    Material Shrinkage
    The amount a resin shrinks during the molding process can have a huge impact on the ease of building a tool or developing a successful molding process. For this reason we try to select resins that have lower shrink rates whenever possible.

    Once all of these factors are accounted for, the list of suitable resins is typically cut down to a manageable number to consider. It is here that the Synectic and Mack team leverages its proficiency with particular materials, coupled with expertise in design and development, to make the final determination of a grade.

    Are you considering using plastic injection molding for your next project? Contact Synectic today and we will work with you to develop a product with the most optimal material selected for product performance and moldability. Let us show you how we can bring your ideas to life!


    Check out our other article in this series How to Choose: The Truth About Fixed-Fee vs. Time-and-Materials

    Learn more about our manufacturing capabilities

  2. Can You Escape? Synectic Survives Escape New Haven

    If you have not heard about the latest craze popping up everywhere, an escape room involves putting a group of people in a room with a scenario and a set amount of time in order to solve a series of puzzles to “escape” from the room. Escape New Haven offered the perfect opportunity to try out one of these rooms during our latest company outing.

    Synectic was split into two teams and given the following scenario: You are a crew of scavengers in space. You’ve discovered an abandoned space station orbiting a distant moon. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to scavenge this station for its four valuable energy crystals. Find the crystals, and while you’re at it, also try to find out what’s happened here. Don’t let your oxygen run out, and keep an eye out for danger. You don’t want whatever happened to the crew to happen to you, too…

    Armed with only our wits, each team had 60 minutes to complete the task before us. Although neither team made it out on time (on average there is only a 20% success rate) we all had a fun afternoon filled with problem solving and team building. Which team did better, you ask? Remarkably, both Synectic teams were on the exact same puzzle when the clocked stopped, proving that no matter which of our engineers work on your project you will get the same results. If your team is facing a puzzling product development challenge, contact Synectic and we’ll develop the perfect solution. Let us demonstrate how we can bring your product development ideas to life.

     

    Jeff and Julie try out a puzzle before entering “The Room”

     

    Jeff, Jesse, Joe, and Ernest work together on some puzzles

     

    Synectic’s winning team

     

    Relaxing at BAR; celebrating our escape

     

  3. Synectic Celebrates a Lifetime of Achievements

     

    It is with mixed emotions that Synectic announces the retirement of Vinny Mata, one of our most distinguished senior product development engineers.

    I was able to sit down with Vinny one last time before he left. Here is what he had to say about his time at Synectic.

    Vinny, you have such a rich engineering background, what brought you to Synectic?

    VM: I was originally introduced to the previous owner of Synectic, Jeff Stein, through a mentor of mine. Over the years I worked with him on various projects, as a contractor, before I went into medical device design. Then, about 10 years ago, I was looking to leave the company I was work at and I asked Jeff if I could use him as a reference. Well, he did way more than offer me a good reference, he invited me to come work for him. I had really enjoyed, working with him in the past, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Synectic offered the fun, family-like environment that I was looking for.

    I’m so glad things worked out the way they did. You have worked on some pretty amazing projects throughout the years. What were some of your favorites while working here?

    VM: One of my favorite projects was working on the 5mm laparoscopic stapler from Just Right surgical. The client challenged us to push the project to the limits with design and materials. Our team rose to the challenge and we were able to change the technology, making a significant impact in pediatric laparoscopic technology.

     

    Vinny, you have definitely left your mark on this place and I can assure you, you will not be forgotten.  What advice can you give to an engineering that is just starting their career?

    VM: I recommend finding a company that nurtures and encourages you to master every aspect of product development from engineering to manufacturing. Seek out an environment where you can simultaneously contribute and expand your mind. You want driven colleagues who have a willing attitude to learn from each other and gladly share their knowledge. At Synectic the senior engineers spend time mentoring the junior engineers, encourage questions, and are willing to try a new approach. Even with all our years’ experience, we are still open to learning from the younger generation just entering the field. Synectic is also great for those looking to go into medical device development. You are not just working on one project in one specialty all the time. We have to learn all the anatomical systems and the projects change quite often. We learn everything from cardiovascular to tissue management and must know how to tie that into mechanical engineering.

     

    Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. We are really happy that you chose to work at Synectic and we are sorry to see you go. What do you plan to do with your time now that you are retiring?

    VM: I am an avid fisher and boater and I plan to do a lot more of both.

    Good luck Vinny in wherever life brings you to next!