He left in 1959 and went to Spencer Chemical, where he created a replacement for wax coatings on Ex-Cell-O milk cartons: linear, low-density PE.
Many of his key advances in blow molding materials came from Celanese between 1963 and 1970. HDPE milk jugs were just coming on the market. Then as now, Uniloy reciprocating screw blowers dominated milk cans. DeLong understood that Uniloy machines had specific requirements for melt rheology.
The preform must have enough flare or increase in diameter as it comes down to get past the tip of the handle. Too little flare and it won’t be tight. Too much and it flashes.
The swelling speed is also important – how thick the preform will be.
“You stretch the molecules and they want to come back. So you get an elastic response, ”he said. “You have to catch the handle. And there is no laboratory test to predict that. “
DeLong said the Uniloy blow molding machines had very few adjustments as they did the same thing all day and were operated by dairy people rather than plastics experts. Deviations in the resin can cause problems. DeLong oversaw the development of Celanese’s milk bottle resin, commercialized as the A60-70R and which held an 80 percent market share for several years.
He convinced the Celanese resin factory to mix and pellet the HDPE for each batch on the same system. The resin manufacturer had four compounding lines.
“Everyone had a slightly different rheological input into the Harz. So the product wasn’t always the same even though you started with the same flakes because it had a different heat history and shear strength, ”said DeLong.
He was also the first to recognize the effect of preform extrusion shear rate on melt fracture and its detrimental effect on milk bottle surface finish. Low extrusion speeds result in low shear which usually leads to surface problems.
One cause: an accumulator that is losing its nitrogen charge.
“What happens is the shot moves forward, and it starts above the melt break point initially. And at the end of the shot it gets slower, ”DeLong explained. During service calls, he carried a nitrogen measuring device with him as a check.
He also designed extrusion heads that minimized or eliminated rough surfaces caused by melt fracture, such as chatter marks.
While at Celanese, DeLong designed the first offset blow pens for Uniloy machines.
“This would allow you to move the shape under the stationary tool. So if you don’t have enough flare, you can move it around a little. So it gave you a sideways movement of the form, ”he said.
At BASF in 1970 and 1971 he was involved in the development of the first gas-phase PP in the USA.
From 1971 to 1974 he moved to Rainville Co., Dewey Rainville’s blow molding machine company. DeLong said the company has developed injection blow molding machines for several novelties, including a plastic peanut butter jar and polycarbonate baby bottles.
There was another premiere, but it was top secret. Rainville has tested a mysterious material from Amoco Chemical Co.
“Amoco came to us and said we have this material and we want you to inject it. They didn’t want to tell us what it was. It came in a 25 gallon can that was sealed, ”DeLong said.
Rainville made some chunky bottle-shaped pieces, he said. The Amoco people were enthusiastic about the potential of the material … PET. DeLong said the innovation predates other patents, but Rainville was not allowed to patent it.
DeLong also participated in the first injection blow molded beer bottles using Acrylonitrile from Monsanto Co.
He also helped Rainville develop the concept of “bundling” – the assembly of a turnkey blow molding machine, tooling and operator training system backed by guaranteed performance. “One source” was the motto.
DeLong moved again, this time to Owens-Illinois Inc. in Toledo, Ohio, where he worked from 1975 to 1980. As a marketing manager, he helped establish OI’s first joint venture competitive in the injection blow molding space and worked with Bekum America Corp. For a market valuation, he developed a single-stage PET machine for the production of bottles for Lavoris mouthwash.
He helped Captive Plastics set up a blow molding plant on the west coast and worked there from 1980 to 1986. Most recently, he worked as a Senior Engineering Consultant for Solvay SA until he founded his own consulting company in 2006.
Phillips’ Don Peters learned of DeLong as a competitor in the 1960s. Both were technical sales engineers and occasionally visited the same customers.
“Bob was both a doer and a chemical engineer who installed innovative process modifications that improved production efficiency in the plants,” wrote Peters in his nomination. “It didn’t take long to respect his work!”
Peters said DeLong played a key role in advising blow molding companies – as “mother hen”.
For his part, DeLong said the days when resin companies were close to their customers are long gone.
“The MBAs, the bean counters, ruined customer service,” he said. “Because it’s easy to put a figure on how much money you spend on customer support. But it’s hard to see what kind of repayment you get from it, what kind of loyalty. “
DeLong said of a customer who only buys by price, “he’ll kill and leave you for half a cent a pound.”
“Service, everyone is talking about it. Everyone likes it, ”he said. “It’s like pumping your own gas. It was kind of nice that the guy cleans the windshield and pumps the gas. “