No, this is not another episode of Tanked, but something much grander in scale. Reynolds Polymer Technology Inc. (Grand Junction, CO), a global manufacturer of fully integrated, highly engineered acrylic solutions, announced that it has manufactured and completed the installation of a nearly 50-foot aquarium at the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott hotel. The water feature is prominently displayed in the grand lobby as a central design element filled with nearly two thousand aquatic animals representing 90 different species.

Hong Kong Marriott aquarium
The acrylic cylinder measures 49 feet high and 20 feet wide. Image courtesy Reynolds Polymer Technology.

The salt-water-filled cylindrical tank comprises 14 individual pieces of acrylic bonded together with seven vertical bones and one horizontal bone in a monolithic structure. The aquarium spans three hotel floors, with the cylinder measuring 49 feet high and 20 feet wide; wall thickness is 7.5 inches.

“It’s been a true pleasure to see our highly engineered acrylic come to live in the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott,” said Mark Johnson, Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing. “With each project Reynolds is selected for, we grow in our capabilities and are able to demonstrate our innovative nature. This water feature provides guests with an engaging sea life view right within the Ocean Park facility. From vision to concept to execution, our experienced team goes above and beyond, and that couldn’t be more true with this undertaking.”

Michael Wong, Sales Director, Asia Pacific, at Reynolds Polymer Technology, stated that “Reynolds’ role in this project proves our ability to combine the latest technologies and techniques with extraordinary styles of design and attention to detail in manufacturing quality acrylic attractions.” The Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott hotel is “an impressive feat of design and architecture in its adoption of local elements, such as the ocean inspiration, as well as a strong focus on environmentally friendly practices,” Wong added.

Reynolds Polymer Technology has successfully completed more than 1,900 groundbreaking, large-scale exhibits, displays and experiences in 57 countries for internationally known brands including CNN, Disney, NASA and Apple.


Back in 2013, Honda worked with UC-Davis to launch a smart home project that would consume zero net energy. It was a bold experiment and a technical IoT marvel. Human dwellers occupied the home along with over 230 built-in sensors. Both provided a wealth of data and feedback that yielded several surprising results. Foremost was the importance of collecting data in a real-life environment, analyzing it and then acting on that analysis to try out new conditions and improved technologies. Six years later, the data and details of this project have been compiled into 5 key lessons learned, which will be reviewed shortly.

First, a bit of background on the beginnings of this project are needed. Before the smart house could be built, all aspects of its design, operation and sustainability had to be understood and balanced. Even the home’s site selection was chosen to ensure the best exposure for the rooftop solar panels. Every detail of the overall design was similarly reviewed with a collaborative team consisting of an architect, HVAC designer, electrical/electronic and mechanical engineers, construction certification members, and Honda experts. Heating, cooling, lighting, operation of appliances, and water reuse activities were designed together to support zero net energy consumption while allowing the occupants to live comfortably.

From the human occupant perspective, the goal was not to significantly change specific behavior patterns. For example, if the occupants had to wash dishes, shower or run laundry, then the home had to respond immediately. If the timing of these activities required excessive use of the energy grid, then the Honda-designed Home Energy Management System (HEMS) would intervene to allow them to continue their daily routine, as well as return extra power to the grid if possible.  

The HEMS, located in the smart home’s garage, was a hardware and software system that monitored, controlled and optimize electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid. It stored solar energy during the day and was capable of “listening” to the grid to ensure power was only drawn at the most carbon-efficient times.

Image Source: Honda Smart Home System – HEMS and EV in Garage

The project has proven to be a success. Located on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, the home as annually produced more energy from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power smart car (e.g., a Honda Fit EV) for daily commuting. Energy management systems were essential to maintaining efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems within the house.

Other sustainability factors, such as water-use, were also managed and controlled. The result a home with three times more water-efficiency than a typical U.S. home.

Proof of the zero-net energy consumption is available from yearly data accessible to anyone on everyone on the download tab of the Honda Smart Home site.

Image Source: Honda Smart Home – Data

Despite some speed bumps in the automotive sector, the global plastic injection molding market is poised for sustained growth, according to Saipriya Iyer, Research Content Developer at Global Market Insights (Selbyville, DE). The market research and management consulting company has published a report on the global injection molded plastic market, which can be purchased on its website. Iyer shared some key insights from her research with PlasticsToday.

  • The global plastic injection molding market is expected to reach a value of $345 billion by 2024. Key sectors contributing to this growth are automotive, driven by lightweighting to improve fuel efficiency and electric vehicle range; packaging, including thin-wall and rigid bulk products; and electronics, where plastic injection molding results in consumer-friendly designs and lower production costs.
  • China’s market for plastic injection molding is expected to grow at 6% through 2024. The continued building spree and norms supporting sustainable construction contribute to this growth.
  • The German market, which was valued at $11 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $14.5 billion by 2024. The automotive sector historically has been a big customer of injection molding services, but it is currently in a down cycle.
  • The automotive sector typically is one of the prime, revenue-generating end markets for injection molders in Germany and elsewhere, but economic factors and technological change are affecting that dynamic. Slumping demand in China, emissions-related issues in Europe and a shifting trend toward electric cars are conspiring to drive down global demand. Germany saw an approximate 12% decline in car production in the first half of 2019. Although new car sales have declined from historic highs in the United States, the country remains a bit of an economic oasis in the world, and that has propped up vehicle sales in 2018, which grew 0.3% over the previous year.
  • Stringent regulations regarding CO2 emissions in Europe will saddle carmakers with an additional expense of approximately €1000 per vehicle to comply with the new standards. But demand for injection molded plastic parts will continue to grow, as automotive OEMs seek to improve fuel efficiency through lightweighting. Molded plastic parts are widely used throughout automobiles, from wiring harnesses and light covers to dashboards and door handles.
  • The adoption of electrical vehicles is likely to increase at a rapid rate by the year 2030. Companies such as Tesla are witnessing double-digit growth in terms of revenue. The company’s Model 3 was ranked the best-selling electric car in 2018, followed by Model X (ranked fourth) and Model S (fifth). The company reported revenue growth of 82.5% in 2018 as compared to 2017. Electric vehicle sales volumes are creating significant profit pools for upstream players and distributors: Sales of electric vehicles grew to more than two million units globally, 63% year-on-year growth but a market penetration rate of only 2.2%.


At Autodesk University in Las Vegas this week, company executives introduced a number of concepts that reveal just how far technology is progressing. This includes bringing gaming software into design tools or using these tools to improve the environment. During a meeting with journalists on Tuesday, Autodesk president and CEO Andrew Anagnost and a handful of his senior executives explained the near future of design technology.

Bringing gaming software into design tools

Rather than simply presenting classes that teach new software, Autodesk is beginning to use game software to entice users into adopting advanced tools. “We’re bringing gaming tools into our software to engage with our highly skilled users. It’s a positive attention grabber. It drags you into something you really want to accomplish,” said Anagnost. “It guides you to choose this new path, and if you do, you’ll quickly get better at the new tools.”

Autodesk, generative design, environmental improvements, PLM, automated construction, manufacturing
Andrew Anagnost kicks off Autodesk University on Tuesday by showing off an EV VW Microbus partly built by using gnerative design. (Image source: Autodesk)

Rather than incrementally improving existing tools, Autodesk aims to bring these tools to its users by making it fun. “Our users ask us to improve features on the tools they already know. We want to take people into areas they don’t know so they don’t have to go off somewhere else to learn, so they can learn while doing what they’re already doing,” said Anagnost. “It’s a gaming engine. Eventually it will be everywhere our applications are. It will also assess how well our users are doing. We think there’s massive value there. People are going to get more and more technology in front of them, and they need guides to what tech is best for them to use.

The concept it to mimic the unstructured way users learn new tools, by accident and buy having fun. “With this gaming software, we realize that most of us discover new ways of doing things by accident,” said Lisa Campbell, CMO of Autodesk. “We want to make it deliberate, so you can learn the skill while doing your job.”

Construction sites will become automated factories

Construction is one of the last industries to adopt advanced software tools. That’s about to change. There’s a quiet-but-steady move toward bringing automation to construction. “People are trying to do stand-up automation at the construction sites. In 10 years, we’re going to see plenty of these stand-up factories,” said Anagnost. “The biggest thing that is restricting this is regulations. The technology is moving faster than those regulations. It’s not like they’re trying to hold us back.”

Anagnost noted that Autodesk is already pushing to help construction companies shift away from age-old practices. “We’re working on the policy side as well as the relations with unions,” said Anagnost. “That’s where the heavy lifting will be in moving automation to the construction site.”

Some of those construction processes are already changing. This is reflected in a Marriott hotel going up in a tight spot in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel is getting put together in modules that are manufactured offsite and brought to Midtown by boat, then put together like large Lego pieces. “At some point we will get into a model where the modular work is done close to the site. Right now they’re bringing these things in by boat – which in itself is an efficient way to move modular items,” said Anagnost. “But the modular manufacturing will move closer to the sites as modular building factories become more common. What we don’t want to do is create buildings based on modules that need to fit on a railway car.”

PLM doesn’t matter in a world of multiple digital tools

As digital tools get adopted and used in manufacturing processes, the need for PLM will diminish. The data created and collected by the tools will fill PLM needs. “PLM doesn’t matter as much in this new digital world. Once you build the right data model, the concept of PLM falls behind,” said Anagnost. “Basically, we’re already including PLM when we build the data layer that fits underneath in Autodesk. That’s the beauty of the cloud. It contains all of your processes, so you don’t need another layer of data.”

Part of the diminishing need for PLM is that the new tools free up design to move in unexpected directions. “Traditional PLM was sold to solve data problems, but it has became a bureaucracy,” said Scott Bordun, CTO of Autodesk. “It was there to help you enforce your rules. Now we’re trying to break restrictions. In many ways, the construction side of the world is more open to the idea of cloud and data. They’re going to skip a whole generation of technology.”

These tools improve the environment

Much of the new way of doing business and creating products has intrinsic value environmentally. “Our solutions impact the environment. Construction is responsible for 30% to 40% of the materials in landfill. The more you can automate construction, the more you can reduce that waste,” said Anagnost. “We believe you can eliminate at least 30% of construction waste through better planning and better modeling. Just the act of modeling reduces waste.”

Anagnost insisted that bringing manufacturing values to construction will result in less wasted materials. “Planning is intrinsic to manufacturing. It’s dominated by modeling. That’s not done much in construction,” said Anagnost. “When it is done, you’ll reduce waste. If you add modular construction, you’ll reduce even more. You enter into a virtuous cycle.”

Generative design will take on a larger and larger role

Generative design is beginning to get used for solving problems far beyond 3D printing shapes. Airbus recently used generative tools to design a plant in Hamburg, Germany. “Generative design is the engine that we use to bridge design and manufacturing. With generative design we’re consolidating the parts,” said Anagnost. “The whole idea of generative design is to become a partner with the designer in creating an outcome. Generative design is really a machine-generated problem solver.”

Part of the value of generative design is the ability to see multiple iterations of an object – or even a plant – in a very short period with little cost. “In generative design, you’ve see a ton of examples for solving problems. You can consolidate eight parts into one part. That’s great for folks who are applying generative design to their products,” said Scott Reese, SVP for manufacturing, cloud, and production at Autodesk. “The challenge is gaining awareness of generative design. In order to make people more familiar with it, we are making it free until the end of the year.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!