Published June 20, 2000
Volume 8, Number 6

GE Plastics is Leading a New Wave of Fantastic Plastics
GE Plastics
GE Plastics engineer Neil Gow operates molding equipment
in their Hacienda facility.

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor

The plastics industry is seeing a resurgence and GE Plastics, whose Western Regional Commercial Development Center is here in Hacienda, is leading the way. 

Colored and translucent plastics are showing up on computer housings and monitors and their popularity has spread to products like cellular phones. Rigid plastics are being coated with rubber-like elastomers making everything from automotive knobs and switches to ball point pens more pleasing to the touch. GE Plastics has had a hand in both areas.

"There's been a tremendous uplift in the industry," says Joe McGovern, general manager of the Hacienda facility. "Using interesting-looking colors of translucent material on computers is a huge part of what we do and we do a lot of telecom work for the cell phone industry as well."

"Our business is about selling plastic pellets of various colors and various chemical compositions to meet certain environmental needs, such as the product's use around food or chemicals," adds Neil Gow, technical development engineer. 

Typically, GE Plastics is involved throughout the design process, working with its customers so that they can make the best use of GE's materials in their designs. 

"We have market development people who work with clients on product ideas to review the feasibility and who bring it to our design engineers for review," he says. "We do a lot of work here with design firms on conceptual stuff, design feasibility, and so forth." 

Lexan polycarbonate, a GE Plastics product which is used in everything from computer housings to automotive bumpers, is the most popular product at the local office, and is also extensively used in CDs and DVDs. 

The com-pany's Hacienda facility features a large training room, which the company uses for workshops for customer engineers and designers, as well as a bay which holds several pieces of molding equipment which can be used to generate prototypes or product samples.

"The other thing we do here is failure analysis," explains Gow. "If a customer is having problems with a particular product, the constraints of manufacturing are that they don't have extra machine time -- they've always got another job behind them that's scheduled that they need to get in. We can bring some of those jobs in here for troubleshooting." 

While the office serves as the centerpoint of other facilities in the region from Mexico to Canada and as far east as Denver, it's also part of the company's global network of offices which are all connected electronically. 

"We can work with Hewlett-Packard's Singapore division and have them send design reviews to be done here," says McGovern. "We also do a lot of work in India, Europe, Japan, and Australia. We're well integrated globally just because so many of our customers here are truly global customers." 

It's an increasingly smaller world and, thanks to GE Plastics and its customers, an increasingly colorful one as well.


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