College of Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

PPRG Polymer Processing Research Group


In 1996, the Polymer Processing Research Group celebrates 50 years of teaching and research in plastics processing. Synthetic polymers played a pivotal role in the Second World War. Shortly thereafter, Professor Emeritus Ronald L. Daggett developed a plastics program in Mechanical Engineering. Daggett attracted national attention in the early sixties for his pioneering work on injection molded heart valves.

The technical elective course that Professor Daggett originated in 1946, then titled Plastics and Plastics Processing, enjoyed unparalleled popularity. It has been taught every year for 50 years. This course recently evolved into two separate senior electives: Introduction to Polymer Processing (ME 417) and Engineering Design with Polymers (ME 417). The latter course development recently culminated in the publication of Professor Osswald's new text, Materials Science of Polymers for Engineers. Over the course of its 50 years, seven faculty have served the Polymer Processing Research Group:

R. L. Daggett1946-1975
K.K. Wang1968-1970
L.E. Erwin1977-1981
G.W. Halldin1982-1985
J. Rietveld1987-1993
Tim A. Osswald1989-present
A. Jeffrey Giacomin1994-present

Professor Wang, an alumnus of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, went on to Cornell University to develop the Cornell Injection Molding Program, a plastics industry standard. Professor Erwin broke new ground on the simulation of polymer mixing resulting in a classic series of papers that are still extensively referenced. Professor Daggett went on to a distinguished career in the injection molding industry. He is founder and president of Engineering Industries, Inc. near Madison.

In 1968, Mechanical Engineering combined an expert on simulation and modeling, Professor Wang, with Professor Daggett's experimental program. The department became the first to cover both sides of plastics processing. This effective model is still visible in today's combination of Professor Osswald's simulation and modeling with Professor Giacomin's experimental program.

In the early 80's, Professor Halldin introduced laboratory studies in plastics to the required undergraduate curriculum in Mechanical Engineering. Today, every Mechanical Engineering student carries out experiments in plastics processing in the course called Manufacturing Processes (ME 313).

In 1993, a Wisconsin company called The Madison Group spun off from the Polymer Processing Research Group. Founded by Drs. Davis and Gramann, alumni of the Polymer Processing Research Group, the new company is in the UW Research Park. The Madison Group develops and markets polymer processing software for the plastics industry.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison was chartered by the Council of the Society of Plastics Engineers on May 4, 1981. This promulgated the foundation of the University of Wisconsin-Madison student chapter. Professor A. Jeffrey Giacomin now serves as its faculty advisor.

In 1996, the Educational Foundation of the Milwaukee Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers established the Bob Mehn Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to highly qualified undergraduate seniors in Mechanical Engineering pursuing a special interest in the area of plastics engineering. The Foundation named this scholarship in recognition of Mr. Bob Mehn's outstanding contributions to the Milwaukee Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers.

Up to date as of: 26-Jul-2007. Last modified: 05-Feb-1999.
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