March 26, 2024

Application Spotlight: Transforming the Cutlery Market with Sustainable Innovation

Project Overview

PlantSwitch, an ambitious startup based out of the United States that was aiming to replace petroleum-based single-use plastic with plant-based alternatives, contacted Husky in 2022 to learn more about injection molding options for a line of innovative bio-plastic cutlery. Their challenge lay in overcoming a lack of experience in both the market and injection molding techniques and processes, as molding with bioresin typically requires vast processing knowledge to successfully produce a high-quality part.

Developing a Winning Business Case

PlantSwitch understood that working with a proven and experienced injection molding equipment solutions provider would be a key component in enabling their vision to be a leading bioresin based cutlery manufacturer and supplier.

Collaborating closely with PlantSwitch leadership, Husky worked with their team to develop a plan that included lab trials along with a number of business cases that helped PlantSwitch to understand the full scope of the investment that would be required for this project.

“Understanding that the market is shifting due to various legislative requirements around single use plastic, along with a consumer shift towards a more environmentally friendly solution, we saw an opportunity to leverage our bioresin technology and focus our efforts on providing the highest-quality home compostable resin. Utilizing this resin, we developed a project in collaboration with Husky to produce industry-leading compostable cutlery”, said Dillon Baxter, CEO and Co-founder of PlantSwitch.

To ensure the effectiveness of their new, plant-based resin, PlantSwitch worked with Husky on testing to better understand how this material behaves in an injection process. Following robust lab and analysis trials, the resin showed extremely promising results using Husky hot runner technology. Coupled with a growing consumer market for environmentally friendly home-compostable products, the outcomes prompted a revival of the original cutlery production concept and the development of new cutlery designs.

The Husky team was able to build a new business case, define the necessary cavitation, and recommend an integrated solution best suited for the application: a Husky Hylectric® packaging molding system with a specialized mold utilizing UltraMelt™, Husky’s innovative hot runner technology for bioresin melt delivery.

A Sustainable Future

Armed with the Husky Hylectric® system and UltraMelt™ hot runner, PlantSwitch soon secured a significant order from a leading American supermarket chain for a line of innovative, plant-based cutlery, positioning the company as a vertically integrated producer.

But PlantSwitch's potential does not stop there. The company is now exploring the production of compostable coffee pods, showcasing their commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging alternatives.

“PlantSwitch stands at the forefront of the eco-conscious movement, and our collaboration with Husky has paved the way for a transformative impact, proving that when done right it’s possible for sustainability and economic viability to go hand-in-hand. Together, we're not just creating products; we're shaping a greener, more resilient future,” Baxter said.

Husky’s Holistic Approach to Injection Molding

Husky is a dedicated single-source provider, seamlessly integrating world-class injection molding systems with a wealth of expertise, comprehensive guidance, and a holistic perspective to ensure customers’ success.

Husky provides:

  • Comprehensive guidance throughout every phase from concept to completion
  • Strategic application planning and consulting
  • Expert engineering and design assistance
  • Turnkey advisory services and project management
  • In-depth materials expertise
  • Advanced simulations covering mechanical, thermal, and rheological aspects
  • Prototyping, meticulous testing, and efficient scale-up solutions
  • Continuous 24/7/365 production monitoring through Advantage+Elite™
  • A global and responsive sales, parts, and service network

Husky’s Hylectric® Systems 

To handle the sensitivity of injection molding bioresins, Husky systems are adapted to meet the melt preparation needs and requirements of this specific raw material. The machine extruder and respective melt stream delivery components are modified to enable high part quality and a wide process window.

In addition, Hylectric® systems are designed to support aggressive cycle times for a wide range of applications and are equipped with Husky’s distinctive three-platen clamping unit. The Reflex™ platen is designed to enable uniform clamping force distribution across the entire molding surface, for part-to-part consistency and quality.

Superior tonnage distribution helps to reduce clamping force and mold wear, as well as ensuring high part quality on long term runs. This, combined with wide tie-bar spacing, large platens and a stiff clamp base, make Hylectric® ideally equipped to run heavy, high cavitation molds at aggressive cycle times – making it the perfect fit to cutlery molding.

The latest generation Hylectric® systems also include all of the standard features and configurations of previous generations, with capabilities to enhance connectivity, control, energy management, and streamline operator experience. The result offers superior levels of productivity, versatility, and ease of use.

To meet growing demands for performance flexibility, Husky offers Hylectric® systems from 120 to 1200 metric tons with a broad selection of injection units. Longer versions of the clamping unit are available for large shut-height tools.

Husky’s UltraMelt™ Hot Runner System

Husky’s UltraMelt™ technology is a premium melt-delivery approach for applications requiring excellent process and thermal control with minimal effect on resin chemistry.

Utilizing dozens of different test manifolds, UltraMelt™ was designed to help users produce small parts with materials more sensitive to temperature and chemical reaction. UltraMelt™ features specifically designed components made from aerospace grade materials to preserve the sensitive chemistry of bioresin and minimize corrosion and other challenges. Configurations are available with a variety of gate methods, nozzle sizes, and actuation styles for low and high cavitation molds.

The hot runner manifold was designed for balanced melt supply to each mold cavity with careful consideration to both pressure and melt volume. A valve gate nozzle was used to maintain best-in-class gate quality and extended mold life. In addition, all components were designed with cost of ownership in mind, as well as extended maintenance intervals enabling maximum service life for years to come.


Speak with a Husky molding expert to learn how our latest technologies and expertise can enable your application and business growth.

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