A Brief History Of The Rotomoulding Process

November 14, 2017

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Did you know: it was likely the Ancient Egyptians that invented roto-moulding? We did! We’re casting our eyes back to the past again in this week’s blog, one of the latest looking at the history of the tools, materials and processes used by Excelsior. This time around, we’re taking a detailed look at how the roto moulding process has progressed over the centuries (technically millennia!), and how it’s evolved into the process we use here at Excelsior today.

Roto Moulding Is Older Than You Might Think

As we touched on above, roto-moulding has actually been around for thousands of years (although obviously, it was a bit different back then). It’s been depicted in Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek and Chinese art, suggesting that all these civilisations used the process fairly extensively. The Egyptians themselves originally used it for creating ceramics. Then, in the 1600s, chocolatiers in Switzerland were employing roto-moulding to make hollow chocolate eggs. As you’ll know if you’ve read our previous blog on the advantages of roto-moulding, one of the benefits is that due to the constant rotation, it’s able to manufacture products with an even wall thickness – perfect for chocolate eggs!

It was this same advantage that made it so useful to one R Peters, who documented what he called ‘the first use of biaxial rotation and heat’ to manufacture artillery shells. However, it was a fairly intensive process considering the materials involved, so this use of the process was relatively short-lived.

Revolutionising 20th Century Manufacturing

The Swiss weren’t the only chocolatiers to love rotomoulding; back in 1906, British business partners Samuel Baker and George William Perks of London found new success with the process. (Their patent describes it as ‘a machine for moulding chocolate and the like’, which seems fairly succinct.)

Toys was the next big market destined for roto-moulding. Somewhere in the 1940s, companies in the USA started using it to make small dolls’ heads, play balls and squeaky toys. This opened the door to other types of manufacturing, and soon roto moulding was being used for road cones, marine buoys and car armrests. From there, over this side of the Atlantic in Europe, the Engel process was developed, which allowed the creation of large hollow containers to be created in low-density polyethylene (which remains one of the major materials we use here at Excelsior today)!

Fast forward to the present day, and here at Excelsior our customers are still enjoying the many benefits that rotomoulding has to offer. It’s speedy, low-cost and economical, and is able to create products of fantastic structural strength – and that’s only a few of the advantages!

If you’ve got an idea for a plastic product you’d like to make a reality, we’d love to hear it. You can check out our case studies to see just a sample of the products we’ve made for previous happy customers, or just give us a call on 0161 765 2010.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @excelsior_roto