Acrylic is a highly moldable and adaptable type of plastic that is often used to replace glass due to its high transparency. Generic transparent acrylic bottles, cans, and boxes are manufactured using one of the following manners: first, sheets of acrylic directly produced by machinery plants are sliced and joined together, or second, they could also be made from injection molding. The first method produces storage containers often found in office space, and the latter produces much more diverse applications with wider thickness. The injection plant we visited, Hanson Industrial Co., Ltd., happens to be an expert on transparent acrylic container production!
Located in Bali District, Hanson’s spacious plant is meticulously organized. Besides stacked materials, the injection molding machines are also neatly lined on one side, leaving ample space for transporting cargoes. The staff and management are all busy at work in their uniforms; some are moving the inputs and outputs, while others are processing next to the machines.
Established in 2004, Hanson has more than thirty years of industry-specific experience when factoring in the Founder’s own experiences. Currently, most of Hanson’s major acrylic products, including kitchen accessories and bath products, are developed in-house. The products’ forms and aesthetics are accentuated by complimenting the acrylic cans with foil and embossed spices or flowers. These products are mostly exported, and are fairly popular in Europe, Middle East, India, Japan, and Korea, where these made-in-Taiwan daily ware can be seen throughout hypermarkets and department stores.
The Challenges in Processing Thicker Acrylic Components
Though they are both made from plastic injection, but the production of “thicker materials” including storage containers are vastly different from making the plastic casings for consumer electronics and electrical appliances. “The thicker the plastic injection, the more likely it is to form bubbles and to shrink. This is more problematic to daily ware, where physical appearance is more important, and we need to rely on our technicians to pay attention to the molding conditions to solve these problems,” says Manager Ms. Julie Chen.
After the plastic is melted and goes through plastic injection molding, it gradually cools and solidifies in the mold. But areas with thicker material would cool slower, thereby forming bubbles. On the other hand, the material may shrink toward the middle and form a dent on its surface. The control variable in this process needs to be set throughout the details in the product design and mold design process as well as in setting the injection parameters.
Therefore, how liquefied plastic will act in the mold needs to be taken into consideration when designing the mold. In particular, the position of the inlet needs to be placed to allow for even plastic distribution, allowing for even consistency while cooling after injection to reduce product shrinkage rate and the formation of bubbles. Having had thirty years of injection molding for thicker molds, Hanson has a team of skilled professionals who can determine whether a product design will be problematic at the first glance and make timely adjustments during design and mold production. Currently, computer software can also assist in making more precise calculations on mold temperature and help to adjust the molds.
In addition, extremely high standard needs to be imposed on products of such transparency, making the optimization of molds, the precision of the injection molding machines and the conditions for the molding process particularly important. When molten plastic is running within the mold, it is inevitable that some welding lines may form. Nevertheless, when the welding lines become too thick, the product’s appearance will be compromised. However, it is too easy for liquefied plastic to form many confluences in thicker product molds with irregular shapes. To avoid compromising the product’s appearance, Hanson also keeps welding lines at ideal locations. Not only does this involve mold designs, but parameters including the mold’s preheat temperature, injection speed and pressure, and injection movements all play a part; the movement of liquified plastic may also be controlled through undertaking multiple injections when necessary. Experience and patience are the key.
After demolding, shrink marks may still form on the finished product due to differences in cooling speed on the product’s exterior and interior, even when proper control is exercised. Besides adjusting the design by factoring in the shrinkage beforehand and reducing the mold temperature, sometimes the product may be soaked in water to even out the cooling; while other times, auxiliary tools made in-house may also be used to prevent product deformity during cooling.
Acrylic Potting Craftsmanship Rarely Seen in Taiwan
Besides producing crystal-clear acrylic injection OEM, Hanson is also famous for its potting compound technique and sought after by buyers from all over the world. By sealing decorations into the container lids using epoxy resins, the containers are not only more beautiful, but it is also easier to tell what the containers hold. From spice cans, sealed storage containers, to container boxes, Hanson is the expert on acrylic potting.
However, the potting compound process is extremely complex. First, containers need to go through vacuum treatment. Then skilled craftsmen will use a gel base and place decorations such as spices and flowers on top. Different types of decoration require different treatment techniques, some need to be dried, while others need to be dehydrated before they can be placed in the lids. Then the lids must be sealed with resin. The entire post-process takes 2-3 days to complete and require close attention to details.
First, chemical reaction will occur to the epoxy resin from changes in temperature and humidity. Moreover, the finished products need to be transparent without containing any bubbles, so meticulous control needs to be exercised over the acrylic potting speed. Finally, the decoration placement needs to be done by hand, so the craftsmen need to have some artistic sense in order to achieve product quality and exquisiteness. At the same time, the craftsmen need to be aware of their production speed so that lead time would not be hindered. Hence, a craftsman needs to go through at least one year of training before he/she could achieve Hanson’s standard. This also answers the question as to why there are so few acrylic potting OEM services in Taiwan.
Experienced in Global Market Development & Marketing
Having established its own in-house brand, Hanson pays attention to the latest market trends and regularly participates in international expos in each year to interact with local buyers and to stay on top of the latest international trends. Hanson’s proprietary container production and acrylic potting techniques are also ideal for developing localized products. Many customers are interested in developing their own products upon seeing Hanson’s acrylic cans and jars in exhibits, and Hanson has made diverse products based on different preferences across nations. For instance, customers from the Middle East are especially fond of spice bottles, and they have even sent spices to Taiwan for their OEM projects. Alternatively, Indian customers are partial to gold foil decorations, and Hanson has developed a series of shimmery and dazzling jars and cans just for them.
Hanson’s Chairman, Mr. Brian Tong, described, “For high-end products, with the ongoing trend of making small batches of highly diversified products, it is considered good performance if you can sell 2,000 units of a single product. However, on average our output volume can double or triple that number, and for popular items, we can even produce and ship up to 70 or 80 thousand units.” From developing kitchenware products featuring rice grains in the early days, to the embossed flower containers that target Japanese and Korean markets, to the spice jars and cans much beloved by the Middle East in recent years, Hanson continues to develop winning products.
On top of extending existing product lines, Hanson is also committed to collaborating with customers in developing new products. A Japanese customer once asked Hanson to develop acrylic bath products with nothing more than a sketch and a description of glass reflection. “We spent six months alone on producing and revising product designs just to convey the shimmery feeling that he wanted! Consequently, we finally achieved the quality that the customer wanted after changing the product’ inner structure to a wave-like pattern.” Chairman Mr. Tong, recounted the R&D stories they encountered over the years.
Hanson’s industry experience further extends from design, development, production, to the final step: product shipment. “Plastic companies that are not as dedicated to acrylic production may not be as strict on product appearance. But we are rigorous that there cannot be a single scratch, spot, or bubble in our products.” Therefore, to avoid getting fingerprints on the products, Hanson requires employees to use their finger joints rather than fingers when holding the products during packaging. To avoid scratch marks from fingernails, Hanson even requires employees to use a consistent direction when packaging the goods. Hanson’s care and commitment to the product is shown through every little detail!
Though plastic injection is commonly seen, different results require vastly different production techniques! Hanson specializes in manufacturing transparent plastic objects and is particularly experienced in processing thicker objects. Not only is the company rigorous on product quality, but it also pays enormous effort to mass production, post-processing, and even packaging. Additionally, its acrylic potting technique, rarely seen in the industry, also allows developers to design creative products.
Moreover, Hanson also keeps up with the global market and its in-house product channels also extend to large department stores throughout the world. Besides adding to Hanson’s sensitivity in product development and helping it to break out of the mold of traditional OEM, it also allows Hanson to give product advice from a market perspective, thereby making it easier for Hanson to communicate with the developers.
Not willing to be constrained to in-house development, Mr. Tong believes effective collaborations can spark many ideas. He has recently reviewed collaboration proposals from enterprises and startups, and even received visits from design students. Mr. Tong commented, “If an idea is good, we have technologies that can assist its product development.” Having made a name through its unique acrylic products, Hanson will continue to advance and innovate in the future.
Contact：Hanson Industrial Co., Ltd.