Saturday, 31 October 2020

Strategic Sales and Marketing in Plastics Industry: My 2x3 Matrix Approach

 


In this blog post, we discuss what I call the 2x3 matrix for sales and marketing in the plastics industry (from material suppliers over machine manufacturers to part producers). 

This is a merger of two approaches introduced by Victor Antonio and Jeffrey J. Fox:

3 reasons why people buy from you

Victor Antonio addressed in one of his keynotes and books the only three reasons why prospects and customers buy from you: 

1. Your product or solution increases revenue at the client

2. Your product or solution reduces costs at the client 

3. Your product or solution increases the market share of your customer

Dollarization of benefits

Jeffrey J. Fox together with Richard Gregory coined the expression “dollarization”. They defined dollarization as “the translation of the benefits a product or service delivers to a customer into the dollars-and-cents financial impact to that customer [2]”. We often hear about value-added or value based selling. Dollarization turns value into a precise dollar number. 

In my first job at a global material supplier, the healthcare business development manager always reminded us that value needs to be quantified, in a technical way with numbers as well as in a commercial way with dollars. This was already the concept of dollarization just differently packed. 

The process of dollarization includes several steps and in my view the most important ones are: 

1. Stating the product / service benefit: this is the “why” customers should do business with you

2. Quantifying the benefit: presenting the benefit in numerical terms

3. Dollarization of the benefit: calculating the dollar value of the benefit for the customer

The 2x3 Matrix

Combining the two concepts results in an efficient tool which should be part of each marketing approach (Figure 1):

Figure 1: the 2x3 matrix for effective marketing in plastics industry

Now, how is this to be translated into plastics industry? 

Let us consider the following example:

Example of metal replacement with engineering thermoplastics

First we explore the why the customer should be interested in a metal replacement, which is the first part of the 2x3 matrix. Metal replacement by using engineering and high performance plastics leads to a cost and weight reduction at the customer application, which allows him to be more competitive. Weight reduction is especially interesting for automotive electrification applications. 

In the second part, we quantify and dollarize the cost reduction. 

Metal to engineering plastic conversion 

We start by stating the benefits of metal replacement: cost reduction, weight reduction and with this less fuel consumption for passenger cars, function integration, longer mould life times; 

Quantification of the benefits starts by presenting the property comparisons.

- Metal vs. plastics: the specific strength of high performance polymers is higher up to two to three times compared to metals such as brass, zinc, and magnesium (Figure 2).

Figure 2: tensile strength and specific strength of metals and high performance polymers

-Metal vs. plastics: longer mould life times can be realized with plastic parts (1,000,000 shots vs. 120,000 shots for aluminum parts; Figure 3).

Figure 3: mould life times (plastic vs. metal parts)


- Metal vs. plastics: overall processing times of injection moulded parts are 58% lower (Figure 4).



Figure 4: processing times of injection moulding long glass fiber parts vs. aluminium parts

Dollarization of the benefits: 

In the third step, we dollarize the above shown technical comparisons. Important to keep in mind is that plastics are sold by kilograms, however for moulding a plastic part you always need to fill a volume. Therefore, comparing the prices per kilogram and price per liter is essential here (Figure 5).



Figure 5: comparison price per kilogram and price per liter of metals and engineering thermoplastics

In our case of metal replacement, several benefits can be dollarized. One example is the tool service life time. 

Interesting for the customer is to know how much they can save per produced plastic part compared to their current metal die casting process. 

For this, we compare the aluminum die-casting manufacturing costs to the costs of the same part made out of a high performance polyamide (Figure 6). A major differentiator is the post-treatment cost. Injection moulded parts are ready to use after the moulding process is done. On the other hand, aluminum die-casting needs a post processing operation such as removing the flashes. Since there is not a post-treatment phase in injection moulding we can expect a cost saving of 35% due to having more parts per time unit. 

To summarize: “You’re not selling plastics – you’re selling 35% in cost savings!”

Figure 6: comparison manufacturing costs of aluminum die-casting vs. injection moulding of high performance polyamide 

Key take-aways: 

The 2x3 matrix is an effective marketing tool to properly guide you showing the value proposition of your product or service to satisfy one or several of the three purchasing reasons. It is based on the principle that value needs to be quantified, in technical terms as well as in dollar terms (“Dollarization”). This tool should be in every plastic marketer’s toolbox. 

I want to close the post with a quote from John Ruskin who stated in The Common Law of Business Balance [3], “There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” 

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings, 
Herwig Juster

If you liked this post, please share and like!

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) - check out my new online course

Literature
[1] Victor Antonio - Sales Influence: Finding the Why in (How People) Buy
[2] Jeffrey J. Fox and  Richard C. Gregory - The Dollarization Discipline: How Smart Companies Create Customer Value...and Profit from It
[3] https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/94912-metal-vs-plastic






Monday, 26 October 2020

Rule of Thumb for Plastic Part Design: Increase HDT & Modulus With Fillers


In this blog post, I present to you another helpful rule of thumb for plastics part design and material selection. 

It is well researched that fillers such as glass fibers can increase thermal and mechanical properties of amorphous and semi-crystalline thermoplastics. 

For example [1], unreinforced polyamide 6 has a glass transition temperature of 65°C with a heat deflection temperature (HDT) of 65°C at 1.82 MPa. The modulus declines from 2.81 GPa (pre- Tg) to 0.56 GPa (post-Tg). This is a decrease of 80%. 

Adding 14% glass fiber as reinforcements increases the HDT from 65°C to 200°C at 1.82 MPa. Modulus is almost doubled and the decline from pre- to post-Tg is 55% (from 4.46 GPa to 1.98 GPa).

Finally, with 33% glass fiber reinforcements, HDT can be slightly increased to 210°C at 1.82 MPa. However, modulus can be increased to 7.87 GPa and the decline is now below 50% (from 7.87 GPa to 3.99 GPa). 

Allover, the Tg changes only in few degrees (from 65°C with the base resin to 70°C with 33% glass reinforcement). 

Important is to keep in mind that HDT is a single point value and often used as a maximal use temperature. Therefore, it is always good to look at the storage modulus curve (as shown in the graph in the beginning) which covers a wide temperature range. This allows you to decide if the selected material is suitable to fulfill the application requirements. Other factors such as molecular weight increase the mechanical properties too. 

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Herwig Juster

More Rule of Thumbs here: 

Literature:

[1] M. P. Sepe – Dynmaic Mechanical Analysis for Plastics Engineering


 

Monday, 19 October 2020

The 5P’s – Rule of Thumb for Plastic Design and Processing Operations

 

Rule of Thumb - The 5P's

The 5 P’s, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, published by James Baker can help guiding through your daily challenges and projects. 

For example, in injection moulding operations, the 5 P’s ensures that the right material is at the right time available for moulding. The material is also dried according to the material supplier recommendations. Furthermore, the right mould has to be mounted on the machine and the moulding staff is properly briefed on the moulding task ahead of them as well. 

Apart of moulding operations, the 5 P’s can be applied to several other areas such as plastic part design and material selection too. Especially in material selection, identification of all essential requirements of the product and gathering the needed material data helps to prevent poor performance of the product when it is later in use. 

The 5 P’s are an useful leadership tool for other business operations such as project management too. You can apply the 5 P’s for your private activities too (vacations, camping trips, etc...).

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

More Rule of Thumbs here: 

Literature: 
[1] James Baker: Work Hard, Study . . . and Keep Out of Politics!, 2008


Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Design Properties for Engineers: Fire Behavior (UL 94) and Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) of High Performance Polymers

 In this post, we discuss the fire behavior and flammability of high performance polymers. 

Generally, fire behavior is measured according to the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) standard ISO 9772 and 9773. Furthermore, there is the limiting oxygen index (LOI) which is estimated according to ISO 4589. Let us have a look at what each of them mean. 

UL 94 flammability test

UL 94 flammability standard consists of two different tests: the horizontal and vertical burning test. In the first, a specimen is burned horizontally. The speed of burning as a function of material thickness is estimated. The classification “HB” means that those materials are easily burning in a horizontal way. Those materials will not be further tested. Materials which did not show burning during the first test will be tested in a vertical way. In this second test, the specimen is placed vertically and burned from the lower end. V-0 rating means that the material passes the strictest test criteria. 

Limiting Oxygen Test (LOI)

The LOI represents the amount of oxygen (in %) needed to keep a tested material burning. The higher the LOI value is the higher is the probability that the material extinguishes once the surrounding atmosphere is lacking oxygen. 

How do high performance polymers behave in terms of flammability rating and LOI?

In general, high performance polymers reach inherently a V-0 flammability rating (graph below). Exceptions are PSU and semi-aromatic Nylons such as PPA and PARA which need additional flame retardants to reach V-0. 

PTFE has the highest LOI which means that an oxygen concentration below 95% will extinguish the flame. Among the other high performance polymers, polyimides (PAI, PEI, PI, PBI) have a slightly better LOI. 

Fire Behavior (UL 94) and Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) of High Performance Polymers

Thank you for reading & #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings, 

Herwig Juster

If you liked this post, please share and like!

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) - check out my new online course

Literature: 
[1] Saechtling Kunststoff Taschenbuch, Hanser


Monday, 12 October 2020

How to Approximately Access the Weld Line Strength - Rule of Thumb for Plastic Part Design

In this blog post, I present to you another helpful rule of thumb for plastics part design and material selection. 

Plastic part designs may have a weld line due to polymer melt fronts merging together to form one melt front. At the weld lines, glass fibers do not function as reinforcements and as a result reduced mechanical strength occurs in this area. 

Accessing the approximately weld line strength of a polymer compound can be done by checking the tensile strength of the associated base polymer.

In the example below, glass fiber reinforced polyamide (PA 66 GF 50) has a tensile strength of 237 MPa and a weld line strength of 92 MPa. The associated base polyamide has a tensile strength of 85 MPa which is in a similar range as the weld line strength of the PA 66 GF 50 compound. 



Thank you for reading & #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings, 

Herwig Juster

Other Rule of Thumb posts: 

How to Reduce Environmental Stress Cracking - Rule of Thumb for Plastic Part Design & Material Selection


If you liked this post, please share and like!

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section

Literature: 
[1] Gunter Erhard: Designing with Plastics, Hanser, 2006

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Design Properties for Engineers: Electrical and Dielectric Properties of High Performance Polymers

 

Electrical and Dielectric Properties of High Performance Polymers

In today’s post, we discuss the electrical and dielectric properties of different high performance polymers which can support you during the material selection process

Volume resistivity and surface resistivity

We start with the electrical properties of volume resistivity and surface resistivity. Volume resistivity tells us if the selected polymer allows electric conductivity through the part. Surface resistivity shows us if the polymer has an electric isolating behavior. In general, high performance polymers show a volume resistivity higher than 1014 Ω x cm and a surface resistivity higher than 1013 Ω. Both values indicate that high performance polymers are excellent electrical isolators. However, the isolation behavior is influenced by temperature and humidity. The higher the temperature, the more the chains start to move and this in turn lowers the isolation performance. Influence of humidity on the electrical performance plays a key role with hygroscopic polymers such as the polyimides (PAI, PBI, and PI) and PPA. 

Dielectric strength

Next electrical property is the dielectric strength. This value is estimated on a 1 mm thick polymer plate on which the current (measured in kV) will be increased till it breaks through the wall. For high performance polymers this value ranges between 20 to 30 kV / mm. PTFE has with 50 kV / mm the highest dielectric strength. 

Dielectric constant and dissipation factor

Among the dielectric properties, we discuss the dielectric constant and the dissipation factor. The dielectric constant tells us the isolation behavior: the lower this value is, the better the electric isolation behavior. Polar polymers such as PVDF have a higher dielectric constant compared to nonpolar polymers.  The dissipation factor shows the transformation of electrical energy into heat. A high dissipation factor results in a high transformation into heat. PTFE has here again the lowest values. 

To conclude: high performance polymers behave similar in their electrical performance compared to engineering and commodity plastics. There are variations within the high performance polymers caused by the different additives. 

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings,

If you liked this post, please share and like!

New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section

Sunday, 4 October 2020

How to Reduce Environmental Stress Cracking - Rule of Thumb for Plastic Part Design & Material Selection

In this blog post, I present to you another helpful rule of thumb for plastics part design and material selection. 

Among the causes of plastics part failure, environmental stress cracking (ESCR) leads the part failure ranking list with 30% of all cases [1]. Therefore it is essential to consider ESCR in the early part design phase. The resistance towards stress cracking can be effective influenced by the base polymer, the part design itself, careful consideration of chemicals in the part system, and proper processing. High performance polymers such as PPSU have an inherently good resistance towards ESCR. 

Main strategy is to remove or reduce one of the three legs of the ESC-triangle shown in the rule of thumb: 


Thank you for reading & #findoutaboutplastics 

Greetings, 

Herwig Juster 


Other Rule of Thumb posts: 

Rule of Thumb for Injection Moulding - " What happens in the cavity..."

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section

Literature: 

[1] Failure of Plastics and Rubber Products Causes Effects and Case Studies Involving Degradation; D.C. Wright, 2001, Rapra Technology Ltd.