Wednesday, 25 September 2019


We have now opened our new exhibition, Output.  It looks at some of the most common manufacturing processes used to make plastics objects.

We created the exhibition to help to explain the black art of these machine-made processes.  Because many of us have not had experience in making objects out of plastics, where as we may have put something together in wood or fabric, it is difficult to imagine what happens between the raw plastic entering the machine and the finished object coming out the other end.

Renowned industrial designer, A H ‘Woody’Woodfull, stated in 1959 that ‘the designer must have a wide range of working knowledge of industrial processes of all kinds.’

By understanding manufacturing processes, designers can make the best decisions for their application.  They must ask themselves key questions: What material do I want to use? How many products do I want to make?  How much do I want to sell my product for?  Selecting the right material and process for their application can save money, time and unnecessary over production.

These machine-based processes are not without human input.  The product and tooling have to be designed, computer programmes need to be written, machines need to be maintained and monitored.  The resultant objects are often hand finished to remove excess material or to polish the surface finish.

This exhibition looks at the common manufacturing processes used in the production of plastics products with each case comparing tooling costs, production volume, the types of materials commonly used, and the tell-tale marks left behind during manufacture.

The process of injection moulding leaves a gate where the sprue has been broken off.  AIBDC : 004506

Caption: Blow moulding can be spotted by a pinched seam present on the object.  AIBDC : 005714

Resin transfer moulding leaves a particularly large injection gate.  AIBDC : 005817

The exhibition is also viewable online and is accompanied by animations created for us by Jody Sweeney.

Louise Dennis (Curator of MoDiP)

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