Meet the Team: Scott Wilt, Manufacturing Engineer, Discusses the Process for Creating Successful Plastic Optics

Posted by The RPO Team on Aug 1, 2017 9:02:00 AM

Scott Wilt.jpgOutside of RPO, Scott Wilt is usually golfing or fishing, traveling with his wife, or cheering his daughters on at sporting events. But at work, Scott uses his 20+ years of experience in plastic optics to contribute to the growing injection molding capabilities at RPO. Learn how Scott's expertise is helping the program advance and what's important to the success of plastic optics.

What brought you to RPO?

My skill set perfectly fit with what RPO was looking for in manufacturing engineering support for plastic optics injection molding. When I first met with the team, I had a chance to learn how they were looking to grow the plastic optics program. My experience scaling up a molding program as well as my experience with microstructures was ideal for their plastic optics injection molding program.

In a year and a half we've gone from three molding machines to seven, and we're continuing to add capacity, exploring new applications and growth opportunities constantly.

What's the best aspect of the work you do?

Every day is challenging and interestingthe work is demanding but rewarding. I enjoy assisting the day-to-day needs of the plastics team as well as helping with new program development. We have a great team in plastics.

What's next in plastics at RPO?

Currently we're ramping up the output of our largest plastic optics assembly program. This particular custom optical assembly has five plastic molded components. Due to the increased volume, we're building new molds with higher cavitations.

In addition to the increased production, we are also working on implementing a platform for more detailed process monitoring and data acquisition in molding. Typically, monitoring is done with sensors integral to the molding machine, but the new platform we are working on incorporates additional sensors in the mold. With sensors in the mold, more precise control of the process can be achieved by focusing on how the material fills the mold cavity.

Through this program development we'll be able to more closely monitor variables affecting quality, including:

  • temperature
  • cavity pressure
  • velocity
  • effective viscosity

Monitoring these variables, along with others, will allow us to determine if a part is good before it even goes to inspection. The scientific molding process can be particularly valuable to medical device companies looking to reduce supply chain risk.

Are there common manufacturing challenges in plastic optics that customers overlook?

It is beneficial to work with the lens manufacturer as early in the design process as possible to ensure manufacturability of the design. The biggest factor in the design that is often overlooked is the center to edge thickness ratio. We will sometimes have to make modifications to this portion of a design or inform the customer of the issues that could arise by not changing it.

At RPO, we generally keep a 3:1 or less ratio depending on the design. Our engineering team will work with the customer to vet out any lens manufacturability issues before we start the quoting process. 

How does RPO add value to the optics manufacturing process for customers?

At every level in RPO, we have really strong teams that collaborate together, ensuring the smoothest hand-off from design engineering to manufacturing process development to production. The amount of expertise on these teams, coupled with our process for handing off designs, ensures that our customers will receive their products on time, at high quality standards that represent exceptional value. Our hand-off process ensures that no one misses a step; every shift in plastics has a senior process tech that monitors each project that comes to manufacturing. The transfer from development to production is seamless.

To learn more about RPO's recommended best practices for plastic optics, download our checklist:

Design Considerations for Polymer Optics

Download Checklist

Topics: Meet the Team, Molded Optics, Plastic Optics