Imagine viewing the 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse without the technology to do so! Telescopes, cameras, glasses–are all optical products that dominated this historic event the past week. But, without plastic injection molding techniques used to create these products — burn, baby, burn–retinas on fire!
Arylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic is used to create the external body of the telescope using standard plastic injection molding techniques. This process involves melting the plastic, and forcing it with pressure into a mold that mimics the shape of the final product. When the plastic cools down, and returns to a solid, the mold is opened and the item is removed.
A CNN Poll taken earlier in August, indicated that about half of the US population (323.1 million in 2016) planned to watch the eclipse. Twelve million people live in the solar eclipse’s 79-mile wide path of totality, which stretched from the Northwest in Oregon to the Southeast in South Carolina. NASA reported that at the midpoint of its live stream on the day of the 8/21/17 eclipse, 4.4 million people were watching, making the eclipse the most viewed event in the space agency’s history.
On a personal note, my husband and I were in the “path of totality” of this past week’s solar eclipse. We sat on a remote river bank, placing our camping chairs in the shallow edge of the water. Like creatures of the animal kingdom who approach the water source at the end of the day, our fellow humans gathered to watch the onset of the eclipse. We were witness to the multitudes who arrived with glasses, telescopes, cameras, and camera phones. What an amazing spectacle!
Returning home, I received an invitation to a solar eclipse viewing party taking place on April 8, 2024. Gear up, plastic injection molding industry–you’re going to be busy keeping up with the next wave of telescope manufacturing!