The History Essays Timeline People Companies
Materials Processes

Plastics Collection Receives Erik Furholmen and Chicago Molded Products Papers

In August and September 2011 The Plastics Collection received gifts of papers related to the career of engineer, teacher and entrepreneur Erik Furholmen (1896-1963) and the Chicago Molded Products Co. for which he worked from 1938 to 1946. In addition to the papers, Furholmen's son David donated two objects designed by his father; the Motiograph speaker case for drive-in movie speakers (1949) and an elegant inkwell designed for the Sanford Ink Company (1948). Both items are included in the exhibition Just One Word: Plastics presently on view at the Syracuse University Library.

Erik Furholmen was born in Oslo, Norway, and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1905. He studied engineering at the University of Minnesota and toolmaking at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis and began his toolmaking career with H. E. Wilcox Motor Co. in Minneapolis, where he was a machinist, tool designer and tool maker, eventually becoming assistant to the superintendent. In 1920 he went to Chicago to work in the Machine Design Division of Jos. T. Ryerson & Co. From 1938 to 1944 he was Chief Estimating Engineer for Chicago Molded Products Co. in Chicago, Illinois. The papers include Chicago Molding Company articles and a brochure related to wartime plastics production.

During World War II Furholmen was also an instructor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he taught evening classes in Elementary Plastics Engineering and Plastics Production and Fabrication. In 1947, Furholmen and Norman Nelson formed a partnership to start their own company, Furnel, in Chicago. The company specialized in product development, tooling and production with the emphasis on plastics. Furnel, Inc. continued after Nelson's departure in 1952, and Furholmen continued his plastics engineering work until his death in 1963.

Furholmen was a speaker at a number of technical society meetings and authored technical articles regarding plastics engineering that appeared in national trade magazines such as Modern Plastics and Machinery. He contributed a chapter to Herbert Chase's book Handbook on Designing for Quantity Production, two editions of which were published by McGraw Hill (1944 and 1950).

For more information on the collection go to:
Erik Furholmen image
Erik Furholmen image
Erik Furholmen image