Birds of a Feather Flock to Bath

Simulated Stone Compound Makes Ideal Birdbath

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Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. Or, in this case a better birdbath. When launching a new line of lawn and garden products, Hiatt Manufacturing, Inc. not only updated an old adage, they indeed built a better birdbath.

Longtime metal fabricators, Hiatt made a foray into plastics by taking advantage of an existing olefin saucer to use as the bath. The part snapped into their metal frames and easily clamped to a deck. The saucer was lightweight and non-corroding, seemingly ideal for outdoor use. But, ornithologically speaking, the unit left something to be desired. While it may have cleaned a dirty bird, it did little else to attract either birds or human customers. The single depth bath had no water level indicator. Its frame and dish often separated and were misplaced in stores, preventing sales. Subject to weathering, the color faded with prolonged exposure and?even worse?freezing water often expanded and cracked the saucer.

Looking to create a more sophisticated, and functional product, Hiatt worked with RTP Company to create a product that sang to both birds and bird watchers alike. Initial work revolved around color. RTP Company matched solid surface samples that emulate the appearance of granite in an RTP 100 Series glass reinforced polypropylene compound. Capitalizing on the inherent chemical resistance of polypropylene, the material also features a UV stabilizer that preserves appearance through weather cycles. Additionally, chemical coupling agents promote the adherence of the glass and resin, boosting tensile strength more than 25 percent to 8,800 psi (61 MPa) and notched Izod impact strength more than 50 percent to 1.7 ft lbs/in (91 J/m). "Some substantial forces are incurred when clamping the bath to a deck and strength is an overriding issue," said engineer John Mueske of Hiatt Mfg. "This material satisfies all the requirements of our torque tests and promises to function as planned throughout the product’s life," he continued.

Mueske also cited RTP Company’s computer aided engineering (CAE) assistance as key to performing calculation for stress and strain in the clamping area of the bath. "Even before steel was cut," said Mueske, "the calculations RTP Company performed gave us a great deal of confidence that the design would function as required."

President and CEO Steve Hiatt also praised the customized nature of the material RTP Company supplied for reducing start-up investment costs through the elimination of fabrication steps and powdercoating processes. He plans to incorporate more specialty compounds in other existing products the company manufactures. "Our work with RTP Company helped us realize our goal of creating an improved, competitive, and very distinguishable product," said Hiatt.

Hiatt Manufacturing Inc. of Winona, MN produces wire and sheet metal components for a variety of OEMs along with their proprietary lines of lawn, garden, and nature products. Contact Hiatt at (507) 454-4977.

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