Plastic Model of ‘Tap-Kun’ Debuts

AE-BD-H and AE-LNBD-H carbide ball end mills shape OSG popular mascot into 3D format by injection molding

Kaori Sato | OSG Corporation

Plastic Model Kit

Plastic models are scale models that are generally manufactured as kits that can be assembled straight from the box and are intended for static display. Japanese plastic model kits are especially popular among hobbyists due to their superior quality and high accuracy in replication.

Manufacturing Process

Injection molding is the predominant manufacturing process for plastic models produced in large volume. Polystyrene (PS), a hard solid plastic, is commonly used in injection molding of plastic models due to its lightweight and outstanding dimensional stability characteristic. Polypropylene (PP), one of the most frequently produced thermoplastics in the world, is also used due to its unique properties and ability to adapt to various fabrication techniques. Both polystyrene and polypropylene are ideal materials as they can be liquified, easily injection molded and subsequently recycled. Because of the high costs of injection molding equipment, however, small-scale plastic model productions are often manufactured using alternative methods such as resin-casting.

AnjoHeartsProject

Anjo is a city located adjacent to Toyota city in central Aichi Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s leading manufacturing cities, where automobile-related supporting industries thrive. Although many small and medium-sized manufacturers with high technological capabilities are concentrated in the region, they are easily affected by overseas production trends and the business condition of major automobile manufacturers. Feeling the need to foster an industry that does not rely solely on automobiles, the Anjo Chamber of Commerce launched a regional brand called “AnjoHeartsProject” in 2010. Comprising more than 10 companies, the AnjoHeartsProject strives to bring together collective strengths of local manufacturers to deliver new industrial products full of dreams and love while taking close consideration of the global environment.

YUME ‘Dream’ Plastics & Custom Model Kits

One of AnjoHeartsProject’s most famously known initiatives is the regeneration of plastic bottle caps into custom plastic model kits that companies would purchase as novelties. Materials used for the plastic models are made from used plastic bottle caps, which are made of polypropylene.

Materials used for the plastic models are made from used plastic bottle caps, which are made of polypropylene. The Anjo city collects more than 6 million plastic bottle caps per month and ranks as one of Japan’s top environmentally friendly cities.

The Anjo city collects more than 6 million plastic bottle caps per month and ranks as one of Japan’s top environmentally friendly cities. Once collected, the caps are sorted by color and are brought to the recycling site at Fujii Kakou Co., Ltd. to be crushed and regenerated.

A worker at Fujii Kakou pushes the used bottle caps into a machine to be crushed.

The recycled material is cut into small pellets, and a new type of eco material is born. The AnjoHeartsProject named the regenerated material as YUME ‘dream’ plastics, which is certified by the Japanese government as a regional industrial resource. The YUME plastics are melted and poured into a designated mold, where custom plastic models are transformed into shape.

The regenerated pellets are sorted by color and are designated for specific usage.

The AnjoHeartsProject is composed of industrial professions who are specialists in raw materials, die and mold design and manufacturing, and injection molding. Raw material is handled by Fujii Kakou Co., Ltd., a professional of recycled plastic raw materials.

From left, Fujii Kakou President Kiyomitsu Fujii and Fujii Kakou CEO Tatsuo Fujii pose for a photograph in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture.

The design and manufacturing of the die and mold for the plastic model is assigned to Takaki Kanagata Co., Ltd., a company that specializes in the manufacturing of die and mold for automotive parts.

From left, Yuichi Ishikawa, Yoshikatsu Koshitori, Takehiro Hayakawa, President Masahide Takaki, Nobuo Negita, Kentaro Norose and Manufacturing Engineer Hideki Takaki pose for a group photo at the production facility of Takaki Kanagata in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture.

Last but not least, the prototype and plastic molding process is administrated by Ichitake Kougyousyo Co., Ltd., a manufacturer with over 40 years of experiences in injection molding of thermoplastic resin for a wide variety of products including automotive parts, appliances and other common goods.

Ichitake Kougyousyo President Tatsuya Takeguchi pose for a photograph at the company’s manufacturing facility in Nishio, Aichi Prefecture.

Shaping OSG’s Brand Mascot ‘Tap-Kun’ into 3D Format

OSG Corporation’s headquarters is located in the city of Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, which is only about an hour away from Anjo by car. In early 2019, OSG learned of the AnjoHeartsProject through a business acquaintance and decided to collaborate to create an original plastic model kit of its popular mascot Tap-kun as a novelty.

OSG’s official brand mascot Tap-kun.

Tap-kun is OSG Corporation’s official brand mascot. It is a fictional cutting tool character based on the imagery of a hand tap, which is the first product of OSG since its founding in 1938. The friendly hand tap character Tap-kun serves as OSG’s brand ambassador in the promotion of the company, the manufacturing industry and local communities. In the past couple of years, Tap-kun has gained substantial recognition and popularity in the manufacturing industry in Japan and around the globe.

As a manufacturing company located in the same region, OSG greatly empathizes with the AnjoHeartsProject’s mission and wanted to support the initiative by supplying work materials and cutting tools for manufacturing the die and mold of its plastic model.

Manufacturing Process

OSG placed an order of 5,000 model kits from the AnjoHeartsProject. In order to create an original plastic model kit, a number of steps are required, such as 3D modeling of the designated character, die and mold creation, and injection molding.

3D modeling of OSG’s mascot Tap-kun by Takaki Kanagata.

The 3D modeling, die and mold design and manufacturing are handled by Takaki Kanagata. OSG recently released a new carbide ball end mill series dedicated for high-hardness steel applications. In hopes to share the company’s latest milling innovation, OSG supplied its premium tooling and STAVAX stainless mold steel for the project.

AE-BD-H and AE-LNBD-H Carbide Ball End Mills for High-hardness Steel Applications

OSG’s AE-BD-H and AE-LNBD-H carbide ball end mills for high-hardness steels.

OSG’s AE-BD-H is a 2-flute carbide ball end mill designed for high-precision finishing. It features a variable negative spiral gash for better chipping control. The AE-BD-H’s superior ball R precision ensures a stable radius accuracy across 180 degrees. The AE-LNBD-H is a 2-flute long neck carbide ball end mill designed for high-precision finishing. Similar to the AE-BD-H, it also features a thick center core to help prevent deformation of the ball tip to improve chipping control. Its teardrop-shaped outer periphery strong back taper geometry enables milling by point, which prevents chattering and chipping, resulting in improvement of surface accuracy. Both carbide ball end mills are coated with OSG’s original DUROREY coating with superior heat resistance and high toughness optimized for high-hardness steels.

Application Details

Tap-kun face convex surface finish (contour milling)

Tool used: AE-LNBD-H (R1.5 x 25 x 6)

Material: STAVAX (53 HRC)

Cutting parameters: n 10,000 rpm (Vc 94 m/min), Vf 800 mm/min (fz 0.04 mm/t), ap 0.1 mm ae 0.1 mm

Machine: OKUMA MB-56VA

Takaki Kanagata is accustomed to using S50C carbon steel for the die and mold production of plastic models. Although the company has used STAVAX for other part production in the past, it was the first time for the company to utilize STAVAX in plastic model production.

Takaki Kanagata machine operator Yuichi Ishikawa prepares for the milling of OSG’s custom Tap-kun plastic model mold made of STAVAX.

“It was a rare application with a number of uncertainties in terms of material, processing and tooling,” said Hideki Takaki, Manufacturing Engineer at Takaki Kanagata. “We felt excited and uneasy at the same time,” Takaki adds.

The completed Tap-kun plastic model mold made of STAVAX by Takaki Kanagata is transferred to Ichitake Kougyousyo to be injection molded utilizing the regenerated material YUME ‘dream’ plastics.

Takaki Kanagata was not familiar with OSG milling tools and was initially concerned about the processing of Tap-kun’s head, which requires the milling of multiple narrow paths. To their surprise, the AE-BD-H and AE-LNBD-H performed as advertised.

“These end mills are really made to excel in high-hardness steels,” said Takaki. “The surface quality was excellent.”

The mold of Tap-kun’s head.

Takaki adds that it was a nice project for the company, and he was glad to be able to collaborate with OSG.

The mold of Tap-kun’s body.

OSG creates a number of promotional merchandises annually to give to customers during special occasions and events. The collaboration with the AnjoHeartsProject, however, is especially meaningful as the parts are made of 100 percent recycled materials.

“Plastic model kits stimulate the motivation to create. They are highly engaging, fun and advocate communication through the assembly of the model,” said OSG Corporation Marketing Supervisor Daiki Nakamura.

An assembled Tap-kun plastic model, measuring approximately 35 mm wide, 40 mm tall and 25 mm long.

“More importantly, through meaningful collaborations, we hope to share technical expertise, spread awareness about the environment and to share knowledge about how to become a more sustainable society to create a better tomorrow for future generations,” Nakamura adds.

For more information on the AnjoHeartsProject, OSG’s latest carbide ball end mill series for high-hardness steels and Tap-kun’s original plastic model kit project (Japanese only)


Project Partners

Fujii Kakou Co., Ltd.

Location: Anjo, Aichi Prefecture

Year established: 1979

Main product / services: recycling of plastic raw materials

Representatives: Tatsuo Fujii, CEO and Kiyomitsu Fujii, President

Company website: http://www.fujii-kakou.co.jp/


Takaki Kanagata Co., Ltd.

Location: Anjo, Aichi Prefecture

Year established: 1991

Main product / services: die and mold design and manufacturing

Representative: Hideki Takaki, Manufacturing Engineer

Company website: http://www.takaki-kanagata.jp/


Ichitake Kougyousyo Co., Ltd.

Location: Nishio, Aichi Prefecture

Year established: 1976

Main product / services: injection molding of thermoplastic resin

Representative: Tatsuya Takeguchi, President

Company website: https://ichitake.co.jp


Bottle Cap Art

From left, cap arts of OSG Corporation’s A Brand logo and official brand mascot Tap-kun. Instead of simply recycling used bottle caps, AnjoHeartsProject created an initiative to create art with them to encourage communication regarding the environment.

OSG Corporation applications engineer Masaki Hosono completes a cap art of OSG Corporation’s official brand mascot Tap-kun. Hosono provided technical support to Takaki Kanagata in the crafting of Tap-kun’s plastic model mold made of STAVAX.