First up, Elliot believes some converters may be missing a trick when it comes to material selection. He says injection molders often tend to extend the use of a specific resin to multiple applications because they become comfortable running it. “But that can result in overengineered, more costly parts. I think there’s a real opportunity for converters to look at each application critically, and with an open mind, before deciding on what material is the right material.”
Second, he believes that troubleshooting can be more effective if converters take a different approach. Most injection molders experience defects and processing issues to some degree and, when problems occur, he believes it can be a mistake to look for a single cause. “Engineers will typically hunt for a magic bullet and, when they find it, assume that will solve all their future problems,” he says. “In my experience, it’s far more likely to be the result of multiple variables combining.” Elliot, therefore, prefers a fundamental approach to problem solving by looking at the part design, mold design, process and material to develop a list of possible variables driving the issue. These principles were further reinforced when he completed the American Injection Molding Institute’s Plastics Technology and Engineering Certificate Program earlier this year.
His third tip relates to the fact that running hotter doesn’t overcome many pressure-related issues. “In injection molding, shear has a far more significant impact on the flow behavior of a material than the temperature of the barrel,” he says. “Higher shear generally means lower viscosity. So, consider your screw design, your injection velocity and the diameter of your flow channels.”
His fourth tip is to use simulation – if you are not already. “It can be a hugely valuable tool because it avoids the need to iterate on the press; instead you get to understand the impact of different variables at the click of a button.”
Talking to Elliot, it’s clear that he has an abundance of ideas, best practices and tips like this that could help converters. And, even though Shell Polymers is still preparing its new plant for start-up, he is already laser focused on his future customers’ needs. “I’ve always felt that my role as a technical service engineer required me to serve as an advocate for my customers when they’re not in the room, and I work to do that every day. That’s how I strive to create an unrivaled customer experience.”
But enough about work. When Elliot’s not taking the customer experience to new heights, what does he get up to in his spare time? “I love to play sports. I play soccer three times a week and get out on the golf course as much as the Pittsburgh weather permits.”
And the picture? “Yeah, that’s me in the Andes. I guess you could say conquering mountains is another hobby. I love travel. I’ve visited five continents and plan to get to Australia in the next couple of years to make it six. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to Antarctica, but never say never!”