Dominick V. “Nick” Rosato died peacefully Monday morning at his home in Chatham, MA, with his beloved wife of 60 years Virginia and his beloved daughter Ginny at his side. Nick Rosato has served the plastics industry for 60 years as an industry-wide technical writer, engineer, and innovator.
Beginning as a young Army Air Force, mechanical engineer at the government’s World War II Wright Air Development Center plastics lab, Nick has had a rewarding career (1) in plastics R&D during WWII, the start of the Cold War, and the early Space Age of the 1940s and 1950s, (2) in international sales and marketing, and as a major trade journal editor and spokesman when the industry hit full stride in the Plastics Age of the 1960s, and (3) as a major global plastics seminar business founder in the 1970s and 1980s.
He has remained a very active writer and consultant over his entire career to the present. Nick is very likely the most published applied plastics engineer in history. A plastics engineer’s plastic engineer, he has been previously honored by the Society of Plastics Engineers in the historical first group of six Fellows in 1984, and in 2003 by induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame as an “Educational Leader… who leaves a great legacy to the plastics industry both in writing and teaching…” Over his career he has been an active participant, motivating force, and officer/board member of many plastic industry and related industry societies, with quite diversified public recognition for a plastics engineer, particularly from other industrial segments .
Dominick V. “Nick” Rosato 60 year highlights include:
• An extraordinary 28 authored applied plastic handbooks in an ongoing 45+ year writing career, which are part of the industry’s permanent written record, and are built on 60 years of broad based plastics R&D/manufactur¬ing/sales & marketing/government/technical consulting/editorial (10 years, Chief Technical Editor, Plastics World; 39 years, Newsletter Editor, SPE Injection Molding Division) management experience.
• A prominent 21+ year development career creating 75+ performance plastic products with timeless firsts in Military E/E radar enclosures/aircraft fuselages/refrigerated truck interiors/space rocket nose cones/underwater vehicles
• An exceptional business accomplishment in founding, program designing, and managing for over 15 years the 21 module global UMASS Lowell Plastics Seminars
• A consistent 50 year dedication to 20+ plastic and related industry societies, with advisory/adjunct teaching effort at 8 universities (20 years, direct adjunct teaching, plus 40 years overlapping educational advisory board service)
As an Industry Wide Technical Writer and Educational Leader
Nick Rosato’s first plastics technical writing dates to 1944 during WW II and is titled “All Plastic Military Airplane Successfully Tested.” Almost 60 years later, Nick’s low key, direct, easy to understand, yet comprehensive in scope, plastics engineering writing style has produced
(1) twenty-two industry-wide handbooks between 1959 and 2002, with two about to be ‘03 released, a twenty-fifth nearing early ‘04 completion, and three in layout planning stages due out early ‘05 to mid ‘06 (20,502 pages of applied plastics technology),
(2) chapter contributions to forty-five other plastics technical books, including many multi-chapter efforts (i.e., the Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Technology, first and second print editions, and the new all-electronic third edition),
(3) over 2,000 articles, papers, and presentations, starting from 1949 (a cross-section of which is profiled in the very detailed reference sections of his handbooks),
(4) twenty-one diversified, original, University of Massachusetts Lowell plastic seminar modules, captively printed from 1974 to 1986 (500-750 pages each, or 13,000 pages in total) which later formed the foundation of his international seminar business,
(5) contributions to eighteen other executive series edited books (i.e., H.F. Mark’s three volume “Man-Made Fibers, Science and Technology,” with editorial boards composed of plastic pioneers ranging from H. F. Mark to J. Harry DuBois),
(6) ten years of chief technical editing (115 back page, “Behind the Scenes” columns, plus 400+ additional 2.5 page average articles) for the former Plastics World trade magazine (1964-1973), and
(7) thirty-nine years (1964-2002) as SPE’s Injection Molding Division newsletter editor (140 consecutive, on time, thrice yearly issues; 1750+ pages; over 3000+ series articles, briefs, and abstracts, not included above).
Chronologically summarized starting with the most recent, his twenty-five handbooks are:
• The Plastics Chronology (2006, CRC Press, 670 pp)
• Troubleshooting Plastics Manufacturing (2005, Elsevier, 703 pp)
• Reinforced Plastics Handbook (2005, Elsevier, 775 pp)
• Plastic Product Material and Process Selection Handbook (2004, Elsevier, 650pp)
• Plastic Engineered Product Design (2003, Elsevier, 600pp)
• Blow Molding Handbook, 2nd Edition (2003, Hanser, 500pp)
• Plastics Institute of America Plastics Engineering, Manufacturing and Data Handbook (2001, Kluwer, 2 volumes, 2006pp)
• Designing with Plastics (2001, Kluwer, 680pp)
• Injection Molding Handbook, 3rd Edition (2000, Kluwer, 1457pp)
• Concise Encyclopedia of Plastics (2000, Kluwer, 25000 terms, 716pp)
• Extruding Plastics: Practical Processing Handbook (1998, Chapman & Hall, 779pp)
• Plastics Processing Data Handbook, 2nd Edition (1997, Chapman & Hall, 669pp)
• Designing with Reinforced Composites (1997, Hanser, 401pp)
• Injection Molding Handbook, 2nd Edition (1995, Chapman & Hall, 1145pp)
• Rosato’s Plastics Encyclopedia and Dictionary (1993, Hanser, 11000 terms, 818 pp)
• Designing with Plastics and Advanced Composites (1991, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 979pp)
• Plastics Processing Data Handbook (1990, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 392pp)
• Blow Molding Handbook (1989, Hanser, 1010pp)
• Designing with Plastics and Advanced Composites: Technological Advances in Vehicle Design (1986, Inderscience Enterprises – Geneva, 381pp)
• Injection Molding Handbook (1986, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 899pp)
• Plastics Industry Safety Handbook (1973, Cahners, 333pp)
• Markets for Plastics (1969, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 468pp)
• Filament Winding, Revised Edition (1969, Mashinostroyen-Moscow, 310pp)
• Environmental Effects on Polymeric Materials, Vol. II: Environments (1968, Wiley, 1004pp)
• Environmental Effects on Polymeric Materials, Vol. I: Materials (1968, Wiley, 1246pp)
• From Laminates to Composites (1968, Cahners, 215pp)
• Filament Winding: Its Development, Manufacture, Applications, and Design (1964, Wiley, 360pp)
• Asbestos: Its Industrial Applications (1959, Reinhold, 214pp)
Note: Plastic titles of Reinhold, Van Nostrand Reinhold, Chapman & Hall acquired by Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Plastic titles of Cahners acquired by Reed Elsevier, whom Nick will publish with in the ‘03 period and beyond.
Nick’s writing focus has always been directed towards applied plastics engineers, manufacturing engineers, chemists, product designers, toolmakers, skilled technologists, marketing/sales/technical service personnel, together with other engineering professionals working in the plastics industry. His frequently translated books are simple to comprehend with extensive use made of tables and illustrations, modular in style with detailed tables of contents, thoroughly researched and cross-referenced indexes (i.e., the “Concise Encyclopedia of Plastics” 45 page, 4 column/page, 10800 items, interconnecting the 25,000 terms in the base encyclopedia), comprehensively referenced to facilitate user navigation through these large volume handbooks, and they have innovatively designed appendices (i.e. the ‘01 published “Designing with Plastics” 40 page “Plastics Design Toolbox”).
The preceding book list provides a glimpse into Nick Rosato’s unique, broad ranging, world of plastics interests. Ten of his twenty-eight books, excluding the three most recent are still being sold today (9,873 pages, $4053.95 cost, 2 publishers). With the three newly released books, twelve of twenty-eight books will be actively sold by three publishers. At the ‘04 release of the forthcoming “Plastic Product Material and Process Selection Handbook” Nick will surpass the 75,000 milestone for printed, large handbooks sold over his 45 year continuing writing career. If contributed chapters and series editing are included, Nick’s book milestone would conservatively be 175,000 or greater. It’s conservative to say that Nick’s unique body of work has strongly influenced a half million plastic professionals over his career. With ’04 electronic conversion by Nypro Online of major chapter components of the ’01 “Plastics Institute of America Plastics Engineering, Manufacturing and Data Handbook,” a plastics industry and major plastics association first, Nick’s applied plastics educational reach will exponentially grow globally in real time, with no end in sight.
As an Engineer and Industrial Teacher
Although often overshadowed by his technical writing efforts, Nick Rosato has been an active plastics engineer throughout his career. Having worked his way through school at Schram Machinery to become a journeyman toolmaker, Nick completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering six months early in 1942 at Philadelphia’s Drexel Institute of Technology, while training as a reserve officer.
Upon graduation during WWII he was commissioned into the United States Army Air Force as a flight engineer, and assigned to the nonmetallic structures and materials laboratory at the Wright Air Development Center (WADC), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. Thus began in 1943, Nick’s plastics career at the birth of the modern aerospace plastics and composites industry. The WADC was a phenomenally dynamic environment–part material test/evaluation, part design center, part prototype/limited production, part field testing, and all work (6½ day weeks, 14-16 hour days). The lab’s goal was to make field useable military aircraft parts quickly. It examined plastics for application in aircraft to (1) provide an alternative to strategic metals such as aluminum, (2) develop more aerodynamically efficient, high strength to low weight, reinforced plastic aircraft structures, and (3) maximize the electrical insulation and electromagnetic transparency properties of reinforced plastics in radome enclosures to protect sensitive electronic and (new) radar equipment.
Nick’s first project was to create a mechanical attachment method to connect free blown acrylic aircraft canopies to military aircraft (B-17s, B-24s). Educating himself “overnight” he developed a polyester/glass reinforced plastic edge strip for the acrylic canopy (edge strengthening) encased in a neoprene elastomer profile seal (thermal expansion) placed in precisely machined aluminum profile slots with slats (mechanical attachment). Versions of this method are still used on B-52s today. In early 1943, Nick was promoted to captain and became the lab’s product development coordinator. Director Schwartz’s recommendation read “He gets things done efficiently, ahead of schedule, and under budget!” Nick considered it a privilege to learn from and work with key industrial, academic, government and business contacts such as (1) Brandt Goldsworthy, George Lubin, David Swedlow in (plastics) engineering, (2) Herman Mark, Irving Muskat in polymer chemistry, (3) Russ Ehlers, Gordon Kline in government applied research, and (4) Harold Boechenstein, Charles Kleiderer in (plastics) business management. They were critical to the lab’s success.
Nick worked at the WADC during WWII (1943-46) and again on active duty during the Korean Conflict (1951-53) as deputy chief of plastics R&D, conducting or supervising hundreds of technical projects. From 1943-1963 he would make over 75 original composite, engineered, or high performance plastic proprietary product contributions, primarily in the military air and space markets. They are profiled in the relevant Military Handbooks 17 (composite materials), 23 (sandwich construction) and related reports, as well as Nick’s reinforced plastics handbooks and those of George Lubin. Though government security, corporate release policies, and the proprietary nature of the work restricted patent opportunities, Nick is background reference cited in 30 patents (i.e. Bacon, Goldsworthy, Lubin, Mark, Tupper, Willert) during this period.
Notable product development achievement examples during this period included:
• Original plastic fighter helmet, used to protect fighter pilots in severe maneuvers.
• Numerous aircraft radar and later large ground radome enclosure firsts, including the first adhesively bonded 5 mil thick neoprene clad structures to prevent catastrophic rain erosion damage to radomes, used from the WWII B-29 long range bomber to the current AWAC “dish” planes.
• Metal to plastic conversion of the Vultee BT-15 military trainer (and later AT-6 model), first successfully flight approved (March 24, 1944) airplane to fly with an all plastic sandwich monocoque constructed fuselage (using a novel soluble core molding technology) and other structural RP parts.
• First lightweight, sanitary, all plastic refrigerated truck interior structure for Strick Trailers in 1948 (Nick was chief engineer for Strick from 1947-1950).
• Numerous 1950’s space age rocket nose cones (protecting navigational guidance systems), ablative shields (satellite and astronaut reentry safety), and thrust chambers/exhaust nozzles (including several he personally fabricated for Werner von Braun’s “sputnik era” Vanguard and Atlas rockets, which helped eliminate catastrophic horizontal lift-off failures).
• Reinforced plastic submersible structures such as sonar domes (underwater electrical/electronic radomes), portable submersible bathyscape vehicles, and platforms, working with among others, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and Mercury 7 astronauts Scott Carpenter and Deke Slayton.
At the end of the Korean War, Nick became director of plastics R&D for Raybestos-Manhattan from 1954-1963, turning them into one of the largest plastic government contract manufacturers of America’s early space age. From the mid 40’s through the late ‘50s, Nick received additional technical and executive management training at Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. He published his first book in 1959 on the industrial uses of asbestos in high performance plastics applications, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of his technical marketing consultancy, Dynamic V. Research (now Plastics FALLO) Inc., specializing in enduser proprietary fabricated process, product, and plant layout development which continues to the present and has involved over 100 organizations (i.e., Boeing, UN Development, China’s Chemical Planning Institute; over 150 major proprietary consulting assignments, such as Milacron’s initial plastics equipment entry market study in the early 1970s, or Mitsubishi’s global fabricated products strategy of the 1980’s.). During Nick’s “golden age” of plastics engineering from 1943-1963 he also worked collaboratively with such early plastic pioneers as Clare Bacon, Charlie Condit, Frank Reinhart, Bob Morrison, Bill Willert, Bill Goggin, Roy Plunkett, Frank Marra, Dan Fox, and many others.
During 1963–74, Nick concurrently worked for Ingersoll-Rand, the largest molding equipment supplier, as director of international sales and marketing, and was chief technical editor of the former Plastics World trade magazine. At I-R he integrated the Negri-Bossi acquisition and expanded sales dramatically into South America and the Pacific Rim. At the moribund Plastics World, he livened things up with a backpage “Behind the Scenes” interview and “hot topic” column with himself pictured, introduced “fabricator/enduser” ranking lists to establish PW as the “voice of the fabricator,” and made PW a competitive trade journal. In this period, Nick deepened his knowledge of the US and global plastics markets to the point where he authored the landmark two volume materials science text “Environmental Effects on Polymeric Materials in 1968, the only “Markets for Plastics” book in the industry’s history in 1969, and the SPI’s first “Plastics Industry Safety Handbook” in 1973.
In 1974 Nick, building on his 1965 SPE/ANTEC innovations (as conference Vice Chairman he initiated for the first time 10 broad based SPE seminars as we know them today), and with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, founded the world famous UMASS Lowell Plastics Seminars and Workshops that continue to this day.
UMASS Lowell contributed a one of a kind, unique world class training venue, and outstanding plastics technology staff. Nick provided funding, sales and marketing management, and creation of twenty-one complete (workbook, slides, videos) seminar modules in all areas of plastics technology.
Critically important administratively Nick set up a continually updated 250,000 name mailing list composed of plastic and nonplastic personnel (USA, Europe, Asia, Central and South America); prepared seminar classroom courses with equipment operation courses, and created new, every three months, detailed 32 page promotion mailers that included graphic artwork for the 21 different course subjects (designing products, chemistry of plastics, different processes and materials, compounding, mold/die design, recycling, testing, quality control, troubleshooting, failure analysis, etc. and end use products-medical/packag¬ing/building/electrical & electronic, automotive, appliance.
Also starting in 1971, he pioneered and extensively lectured in-plant on these subjects for many different companies worldwide (Abbott Labs, Amoco Chemicals, ATT, Barber-Colman, Chrysler, Davol, Deere, DuPont, Ford Motor, GE Appliance, General Motors, Gillette, Instron, Johnson & Johnson, Milacron, Pitney Bowes, Rogers, US Steel, Volkswagon, Western Electric, Whirlpool, etc. By the late 1970’s joint venture partnerships were established with the UK’s Open University throughout western Europe (London, Zurich, Milan and Dusseldorf) and China’s Chemical Planning Institute, (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore) extending their “in plant” reach globally. Average attendance was 2500 per year worldwide, or 32,500 attendees from 1974 through 1986.
In 1987, Nick greeted “retirement” by transitioning from the UMASS Lowell seminar business to return full time to handbook writing, and continued proprietary technical consulting and plastics engineering educational work with China’s Chemical Planning Institute (2 years) and Shanghai’s Fudan University (2 years). During the 1987 to 1996 (10 years) he revamped and taught the plastics materials, process, and design selection course at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the nation’s oldest design school. Although never officially an educator Nick has contributed over sixty years of overlapping advisory board or adjunct teaching effort including course set up and revamping in the plastics industry at such institutions as UMASS Lowell (15 years), GMI Engineering and Management Institute (now Kettering University, 10 years), Open University–UK (5 years), Tufts New England Medical (4 years), IKV Aachen (3 years), the University of Singapore (3 years), Hong Kong Productivity Center (3 years), and Drexel University (2 years).
As a Plastics Industry Innovator
Nick Rosato’s career spans the early development phases of the modern day plastics industry. He entered the field as a young but very applied mechanical engineer from the Drexel Institute of Technology. It was a time when polymer science and plastics engineering knowledge was minimal, with plastics regarded as the material left at the bottom of a reactor pot by chemists and as “black magic” by engineers. Along with other pioneers of this period such as Goldsworthy, Lubin, Muskat, Morrison, Bacon and others, he helped define the emerging, upper performance end of the plastics field, namely the metal replacing engineering plastic and property maintaining high temperature plastic industry segments. Nick’s creativity and applied contributions to the field have always been strongly influenced by the practical side of the industry’s great polymer chemists and research engineers against the backdrop of the marketplace. Challenged to excel early in his career by Herman Mark, Nick launched his book writing endeavors in the mid ‘50s. Inspired by Russ Ehlers, he assisted in the Massachusetts State lobbying effort to birth Lowell’s now 48 year old Plastics engineering Department. His proactive communicating of the value of plastics technology were there from the start, and remain today at the heart of his ongoing, industry wide, applied educational focus.
Nick, age 82, entering his fourth “five year retirement period,” remains a very productive contributor to plastics engineering. He has started his sixth decade as an active plastics consultant, having in the last decade for example made proprietary product contributions to reinforced plastics in unmanned robotic bomber prototypes. While many aerospace engineers see these products as complex, gull winged, Star Trek like, radar evading, unmanned combat air vehicles, that drop bombs, Nick views them succinctly as “aerodynamic plastic radomes with testosterone.” He’s in his fifth decade as a book author. Fifteeen of Nick’s twenty-eight handbooks will have been published since his 1987 “retirement.” A European plastics invasion in the ‘04 period and beyond with Reed Elsevier is on tap. The ‘04 “Plastic Product Material and Process Selection Handbook” will go into global print and sophisticated electronic editions simultaneously on publication, ushering in a new era of plastics engineering educational training and communication (i.e., China’s Fudan University and related Chinese R&D sites). For Nick Rosato, the low key, 82 years young, productive plastics engineer, his past is prologue, educationally speaking. The sun will never set on the use of his industry applied plastics knowledge, which he has always freely shared with everyone. Stated simply, Nick has continually endeavored to develop his own plastics knowledge and skill, and then to impart it to his “classroom,” the plastics industry!
Dominick V. Rosato was the husband of Mafalda Virginia (DiSciullo) Rosato, formerly of Boston and Newton, MA. They had been married 60 years. Born in Boston, a son of the late Vincent and Maria (DiMatteo) Rosato, he was brought up in Philadelphia, PA, where he graduated from Overbrook High School and Drexel University. Besides his wife he leaves a daughter, Virginia M. (Rosato) DiMattia of North Providence, RI; a son, Donald V. (& Marlene) Rosato of Concord, MA. He was the brother of the late Marianne V. Sannino of Philadelphia, PA. He is survived by five grandchildren, David A. (& Teresa) DiMattia, Andrea V. (DiMattia, & Michael P.) Dery, Peter A. (& Georgia) DiMattia, Andrew V. Rosato, and Matthew V. Rosato.