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Staying in the loop.

The job of temporarily holding things together, once performed by zippers, buttons, snaps, laces, hooks-and-eyes, and similar devices, has been taken over in many consumer-goods applications by an add-on hook-and-loop fastener system. When a strip of tiny "hooks" is attached to one side of an object and pressed onto a strip of "loops" on the opposite side, each minuscule hook and loop grabs an opposing partner, forming an interlocking arrangement that firmly fastens the sections together. The joined pieces can be taken apart with a simple "unzipping" motion that separates hooks from loops.

As an alternative to the typical hook-and-loop system, which requires the additional step of adhering the closure-device strips to the product, Inter-Mold Corp. has introduced Inter-Mold Hook (IMH) technology. In a standard one-shot injection molding process, the hook-and-loop fields are molded directly into the plastic parts. According to the company, there are virtually no changes in injection molding parameters. IMH technology can be used in all plastics applications that previously made use of the add-on hook-and-loop system. Applications for the technology are expected in the automotive, aviation, and health-care industries, and in consumer products such as footwear, toys, carrying and storage cases, mops, and sporting goods.

Inter-Mold Corp. reports that the process is compatible with a range of injection molded thermoplastics. The company has tested more than 40 specific resins, including polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, acetal, and thermoplastic urethanes, and additional materials are being tested. IMH technology is easily implemented, according to Inter-Mold, and does not require complicated moving parts in the injection molding machine.

The benefits of IMH technology are said to include:

* no additional material is required to manufacture the molded-in hook-and-loop fastener strips;

* no additional labor is required to attach the strips;

* the designed-in fasteners are more reliable and more aesthetically pleasing; and

* the closure devices are waterproof and chemical-resistant.

The company notes that new products can be designed to utilize IMH technology, and existing tools can be retrofitted to the technology in a short period of time. Inter-Mold provides engineering services to aid in deployment of the technology.

Inter-Mold Corp., P.O. Box 1257, Naples, FL 34106; (239) 430-0078; Fax (239) 430-2557;; e-mail:
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Title Annotation:Plastics Machinery/Processing; Inter-Mold Corp.
Author:Blanco, Alice
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
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