An IxDA Pittsburgh / IDSA Western PA joint event, this tour opened the doors of Pittsburgh-area manufacturer Kenson Plastics (www.kensonplastics.com) to the design community. David and Chris O’Leary, the ownership and management partners, showed how they thermoform and machine specialized plastic parts, with their compact and very experienced manufacturing team. They ran machines that heat, form, and cut flat sheets of plastic into complex shapes, making the protective enclosures for everything from medical devices we may see in our next doctor’s visit, to robots that perform tasks too hazardous for people. Kenson described their niche of shorter-run manufacturing (perhaps 50 or 100 devices built in a year) and their expertise in making parts with exacting precision, something that is typically relaxed for goods made in greater quantity. Clients who need that precision, and want a higher degree of design control, work with Kenson to build and troubleshoot their first working units. A tour of Kenson’s plastics facility was an eye-opening event for members of both local groups, and another entry in what we hope is a periodic partnership in running local events.