The Herald-Times

Injection molding training part of Ivy Tech’s plan for future

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 |
June 23, 2012

The career advice the Dustin Hoffman character gets in the 1967 film “The Graduate” became a cliche long ago.

“Plastics!” the recent college graduate is advised. “There’s a great future in plastics.”

The suggestion proved accurate in the real world for the period immediately following the film, until foreign producers swamped the U.S. market in the succeeding decades.

But a new need for precise and high-quality plastic has emerged, and Ivy Tech Bloomington is looking to capitalize on the opportunities available for skilled workers in south-central Indiana.

“Our life sciences and biotech program focuses more on the pharma side, which is what Cook Pharma does,” explains Kirk Barnes, dean of the school of technology at Ivy Tech Community College. “But there hasn’t been a real focus on the medical device side like Cook Medical or Boston Scientific. One of the main facets of medical devices is producing parts for the device, and most of the parts are plastic.”

Earlier this year, Barnes formed a consortium of area medical device manufacturers, and all agreed that they and the local economy could benefit from the training of workers skilled in contemporary, high-tech plastics work. So Ivy Tech was able to invest in a $100,000-plus injection molding machine recommended by area manufacturers including Cook Polymer Technology, Boston Scientific, PRD (in Springville) and even Tasus, which primarily produces parts for the automotive industry.

“When you’re talking about a medical device, it’s not a mudflap for a truck,” Barnes said recently. “This is a medical device that’s going to be going inside somebody. The people doing this work need to be really familiar with everything that goes along with that, including FDA regulations.”

The Japanese-manufactured machine arrived this spring and was being readied for operation soon after that. With the help of the local advisory board, Ivy Tech is building a curriculum tailored to both the needs of the local industrial workforce and the modern state of plastics technology. It will begin with an introduction to plastics, followed by plastics processing and materials, to the principles of injection molding and at some point, attention to the other primary form of plastics production, extrusion methods.

“We also hope to get into courses on the testing and quality control side, which is very important to Cook and Boston Scientific,” Barnes said.

Local companies have promised to provide not only technical advice and instructors to Ivy Tech but also discarded or obsolete molds that can be used in training students but which would cost $10,000-$20,000 each to purchase new.

Ivy Tech’s new injection molding machine is being set up in the Indiana Center for Life Sciences manufacturing suite.

Courtesy photo Ivy Tech Community College’s new injection molder is a cutting edge training tool.


Copyright: 2012

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.