Rhombins by Pfeiffer Lab

For this month’s Deconstruction, Design Milk went behind the scenes with Pfeiffer Lab. Led by product designer Eric Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer Lab produces such contemporary classics as the brightly colored plastic Tiki Stools and the round child-sized Chalkboard Table with sunken stainless steel bin. They take us (virtually) to AMAC, a Petaluma, California-based manufacturing company, to show us the production process of the Rhombins. Introduced this year and designed by company head  Eric Pfeiffer along with Scot Herbst, it’s a modular, three-piece desk storage solution that can be arranged in numerous configurations.

The Rhombins are made from Cereplast, a plant-based plastic that requires a one-ton stainless steel injection molding production tool.

Here is a detail shot of the injection molding tool. Hose connectors cool off the molten plastic that ultimately forms a finished Rhombin.

Inside of each cavity, text that appears on the bottom of each Rhombin is formed in the steel, but in reverse. On the right, is the reflection of the text in the mirror polish of the stainless steel.

This is not a flux capacitor! This part of the tool forms the legs of the insert piece for each Rhombin.

Burly guys with burly forklifts move the tools around the shop and into the injection molding machines.

The Rhombins are made out of Cereplast, a corn-based bioplastic. It arrives at the factory in the form of pellets. They’re off-white before being mixed with color concentrate.

Bioplastics, like Cereplast, are hydroscopic — they LOVE water. Injection molding… not so much. Using a dryer, shown here, nearly all the moisture is removed from the material prior to molding.

The Rhombin tool in motion, inside an injection molding machine. On the left, hoses circulate water in the molds to cool off the part.

Rhombins head down the conveyor belt for inspection and stacking.

This is the business end of an injection molding machine. This yellow motor powers a large screw that mixes and melts the Cereplast, which is delivered automatically through air-fed hoses into the top of the machine.

The Rhombins after molding, ready for packaging.

A label is carefully placed on each Rhombin that is headed for a retail shelf.

Rhombins ready to be boxed.

Rhombins are nested together, shrink wrapped, and prepared for shipping to retail stores.

Into a box and out they go!

The end (or beginning).

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.