Chris DeArmitt

Chris DeArmitt
Phantom Plastics : 2012
Situation/Opportunity: An Innocentive client wanted a smart pop-up material with strict performance criteria.

Action: My proposed solution was rejected initially.

Result: Later, the client realised the solution was perfect for another related application and offered me a reward to use the solution I had proposed.

Phantom Plastics : 2010
Situation/Opportunity: The Innocentive open innovation challenge was to find a special water soluble / dispersible filler meeting certain criteria.

Action: I presented 4 solutions including one that was outside the scope of the challenge and yet a very attractive solution.

Result: I won my third Innocentive cash prize for innovation and was commended by the Seeker for my solutions.

Private Innovator : 2009
Situation/Opportunity: As an inventor, I monitor open innovation sites such as Innocentive. A problem was posted where the customer wanted a way to make sodium free baking soda for people needing low sodium diets.

Action: By using my knowledge from different fields including chemistry and colloid science, I proposed a solution to the client in 2 pages.

Result: The solution won the prize against competitors world-wide. It not only gave a no sodium baking powder, but was cost effective and actually provided a food supplement as a by-product. I was awarded a $40 000 cash prize.

Chief Scientist : 2007-2009 : Hybrid Plastics Inc.
Situation/Opportunity: When I joined, the company wanted better marketing and targeting of customer needs.

Action: I created a full suite of marketing literature and refocussed by introducing new product lines marketed using an interactive marketing campaign to identify and address customer needs.

Result: Huge interest was generated as evidenced by over 1000 downloads per month for the new marketing material and over 100 companies attending our product launch. We established a partnership with a large company and saw immediate sales.

Chief Scientist : 2007-2009 : Hybrid Plastics Inc.
Situation/Opportunity: A key customer had an emergency. One of their materials was discolouring so much that they could no longer sell it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales were at risk. Our client contacted us when their existing supplier had spent months trying to solve the quality problem to no avail.

Action: In less than one week, I sourced replacement pigment grades to try, made two new formulations and sent them for testing by our customer.

Result: In just ten business days from the first phone call, we had solved the customer's discoloration problem.

Laboratory Manager : 2005-2007 : BASF
Situation/Opportunity: A global household appliance company contacted me wanting a totally new type of smart plastic for a dishwasher door. They requested a plastic that is opaque so you cannot see your dirty dishes but becomes transparent when the machine is on and the hot water hits the plastic window.

Action: I used my extensive knowledge and experience to make an educated guess at how such a plastic could be made. I was away on a business trip so I called in the work to be done.

Result: In just 8 days from the client request, we had developed a totally new smart plastic, not only meeting the requirement for changing transparency but also for cost and mechanical properties. This has been patented, published and generated great interest from professional designers.

Laboratory Manager : 2005-2007 : BASF
Situation/Opportunity: BASF had a serious product quality problem that remained unsolved for 30 years and after spending 3 million Euros. Reports were stacked up filling a bookcase and they had finally given up. The product was ABS, a commodity plastic that BASF makes 600 000 metric tons of per year.

Action: I clarified the problem, proposed four different approaches and had the problem solved in just 2 weeks. This was done on my own initiative without starting any project and without funding. I then wrote patents to protect the method and process. I developed the technology to make it work in terms of cost, performance and to minimize investments. The solution was verified in full scale production.

Result: The improved quality allowed BASF to target new, higher margin applications and reduce damages claims from existing customers.

Senior Project Manager : 1999-2003 : Electrolux
Situation/Opportunity: We wanted to replace expensive ABS with cheaper PP for appliances such as vacuum cleaners but could not due to the insufficient gloss and scratch of PP.

Action: I formed a project team to look at new ways to modify the surface of PP using a method suitable for a high volume production environment such as injection molding.

Result: A totally new, patentable technology was developed and proven. The gloss and scratch resistance were at least as good as ABS but with lowered costs.

Senior Project Manager : 1999-2003 : Electrolux
Situation/Opportunity: Electrolux wanted to save money on their main plastic, a highly filled PP, which they compound and use at the rate of 55 000 tons per year in Europe. However, decades of cost reduction exercises had left no room for improvement.

Action: I managed a portfolio of projects in Italy and Sweden to come up with new solutions. Identified key costs and technical alternatives and retained good material properties, but at lower overall cost.

Result: The new material with optimized fillers, antioxidants and dispersants gave good mechanical properties and increased productivity. The materials cost reduction alone was well over 1 million Euros per year.

Manager Polymeric Materials Group : 1995-1999 : Institute for Surface Chemistry
Situation/Opportunity: The CEO of a client was having problems resolving a conflict between his company and a partner company. He did not know which side to believe. As a trusted, impartial party known to both sides, I was contracted to investigate and report my findings.

Action: I was flown to the UK partner company and to the other company in Sweden where I interviewed staff to collect information. In total I was contracted to write three reports. These reports and my recommendations were delivered to the CEO.

Result: The CEO dismissed the Managing Director of the Swedish company and his team. Then former key personnel reinstated, whereupon the Swedish factory became the top performer of all sites owned by the parent company worldwide

Manager Polymeric Materials Group : 1995-1999 : Institute for Surface Chemistry
Situation/Opportunity: The Institute had created a new group to attract me so upon entering I had to quickly hire people, define and area and secure funding.

Action: I pulled together a consortium of 9 companies and recruited staff. Developed a new quick, cheap screening test that allowed us to meet our time and budget constraints.

Result: The project results were so good that people are still using the method today and requesting the final report. The companies supported me for a new project. Companies included big names like Borealis, Akzo Nobel, Castrol, Ciba, Elkem and more from all around Europe.

Manager Polymeric Materials Group : 1995-1999 : Institute for Surface Chemistry
Situation/Opportunity: My top client had a problem that they could not overcome and they needed the solution to be able to manufacture a new type of green, PVC free, plastic flooring. They could not achieve adhesion between the flooring and the polyurethane top coat even after months of trying.

Action: They flew me in as a consultant to London England for their brainstorming session. On the plane I read a book on adhesion that gave me an idea. However, I had not built credibility at that time, so they did not try my idea right away.

Result: After trying all the other ideas and failing, their man drove 6 hours to try my suggestion. We unpacked the equipment and within 10 minutes we have achieved perfect adhesion as shown by an industry standard cross-hatch peel test. This success built huge credibility in the company and resulted in many further consultancy jobs and projects.

Manager Polymeric Materials Group : 1995-1999 : Institute for Surface Chemistry
Situation/Opportunity: A PVC flooring manufacturer had a problem that their material, a PVC plastisol, solidified upon shutdown. After a shutdown of an hour or more, it thickened up and clogged the machines so they had to be stripped and cleaned. This was huge waste of time and money. I was charged with finding an additive (dispersant) to prevent their plastisol from thickening up. They had tried all additives from the world’s largest additives / dispersants companies.

Action: They funded me for a one month project. We developed a quick screening test that allowed us to identify a new additive (not on the market) which was cheap, safe and readily available.

Result: In a full-scale factory trial they found that the additive allowed them a 48 hour shutdown with no clogging. The new additive was immediately implemented in production.

Post doctoral worker : 1994-1995 : KTH University
Situation/Opportunity: I was tasked with making biodegradable polymers for controlled release drug delivery but the ones the group had been making were 20 years old and there was no evidence that they were even safe. I needed something new and safe.

Action: I researched to check the state of the art and then designed my own strategy. I started by obtaining a list of approved food additives from the local pharmacy.

Result: By reacting those safe food additive ingredients together, I was able to make a totally new range of PEO-based polymeric ionomers guaranteed to be safe when they decompose back into those same safe additives inside the body.

Polymer & Surface Scientist : 1993-1994 : Cookson Technology Centre
Situation/Opportunity: This was the first project I ever had in my first job. Pigments are milled down in an aqueous slurry, then dried to give a fine powder. One pigment in particular agglomerated very badly during drying so that you started with a dispersion of 10 micron particles and ended up with one huge lump 1 meter long, half a meter wide and 20cm thick. My task was to find an additive to prevent the agglomeration.

Action: I systematically tried every type of dispersant known; anionic, cationic, non-ionic, amphoteric, hydrocarbon, fluorocarbon. Nothing worked. Then two months later I heard of a new surfactant from Dow Corning. It was not yet on the market but I managed to get a sample of a pre-production batch. I tried it on the old problem that I could not solve before.

Result: The additive worked wonderfully. There was no agglomeration whatsoever. I made sure that Dow Corning would produce the additive commercially, got pricing and we started using it in full-scale production immediately.

PhD Student : 1990-1993 : University of Sussex
Situation/Opportunity: Electrically conductive polymers were in vogue but were unprocessable as they neither melt nor dissolve. The race was on to make soluble forms but the only success to date involved many reaction steps with very dangerous chemicals.

Action: While doing some reading at home, I stumbled across a commercially available, cheap chemical that I believed would form a new water-soluble electrically conductive polymer.

Result: I bought the new monomer and synthesised a new electrically conductive water-soluble polymer (polydiphenylamine sulfonate) in one step in just 10 minutes. We published the work in a top journal and other research groups saw the merit in, and starting working on, our new polymer.