Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Pioneer Plastics Shows Students How Plastics Manufacturing Is Done

Almost everyone has heard by now that, in general, students and younger people are not interested in manufacturing, whether it’s plastics or any other kind,  as a career choice, and we in manufacturing know that one of the biggest reasons why is the outdated or just plain wrong images younger people have of what a manufacturing environment is like. We also know that with few exceptions they have never see a production facility.

50 middle school students now know how Pioneer Plastics makes things.

50 middle school students now know how Pioneer Plastics makes things.

The youngsters think it’s dark and dreary, that the image of late 19th century factories is today’s reality. Meanwhile, everyone in manufacturing, especially in the plastics sector, knows that today’s manufacturing environments are, in reality, pretty darn nice places to work, and that the work is interesting and creative.

Obviously what’s needed is to bring students into manufacturing facilities so they can experience it for themselves. So here’s a big shout-out to Pioneer Plastics (North Dixon, KY) for acting on that problem by bringing students into its factory and doing its part to change those mistaken impressions.

Pioneer Plastics has 23 injection molding systems and a thermoforming machine

Pioneer Plastics has 23 injection molding systems and a thermoforming machine

We came across a story on the 14 News website of WFIE, the NBC affiliated TV station based in Evansville, IN, that describes how Pioneer Plastics hosted 50 middle school kids from Henderson County, KY, the home territory of Pioneer Plastics. The students are visiting several manufacturing locations this week as part of a program conducted by Henderson Community College. Next week they will be visiting healthcare facilities. Manufacturing will be very real to them…the real manufacturing world, that is.

In operation for 35 years, Pioneer Plastics works in a 100,000-ft2 facility, most of which is less than ten years old. It custom molds plastic products such as display cases for sports and collectibles, cups and plates, as well as a variety of aftermarket parts used to maintain and repair equipment such as food processing machinery, airplane engines and more. To fulfill the short-run orders for these parts, Pioneer has nearly 3000 service molds, and a very healthy niche market.

Collins Engineering is the toolmaking side of Pioneer Plastics.

Collins Engineering is the toolmaking side of Pioneer Plastics in North Dixon, KY.

Pioneer has 23 injection molding systems ranging from 110 tons to 990 tons of clamp force, as well as a thermoforming machine. Apart from the production floor, Pioneer also designs and builds production tools in house, a corner of the manufacturing world the kids should find very interesting. (The kid in me does.)

One sixth-grader who spoke with a 14 News reporter found it more than interesting. Asha Nalley said, “I’m a good puzzle solver. Like I can do things really fast like that and factory stuff is kind of like that. You have to be able to put things together and find missing pieces, and that’s why I kinda wanted to do it.”

Seeing plastics manufacturing live and in person makes a difference. It can show someone a place where they can fit,  a place they most probably knew nothing about before coming to visit. Well done, Pioneer Plastics.

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