AKRON, OHIO — Shin-Etsu Silicones opened its Liquid Injection Molding System Technical Center in Akron to showcase it to customers in conjunction with last month's International Elastomers Conference and expo.
The event included a number of keynote speakers outlining the advancement of liquid silicone rubber and featured a demonstration of the liquid injection molding system.
"In the silicone industry, it's not enough just to supply a raw material," said Eric Bishop, Shin-Etsu's North America marketing manager. "We need to understand how that material processes and simulate that environment for our customers. Most of our customers have equipment like we have in here."
The equipment originally was bought in 2005, which is when the technical center was first developed. The facility was built in 2009, and the press was moved from another leased building.
Shin-Etsu allows customers to utilize the tech center to test their own molds using the company's 110-ton horizontal LIMS Arburg press that simulates the manufacturing environment. Customers also can get hands-on training on how to use silicone materials.
The press contains a hydraulic pump with a third stream color, a 35 millimeter screw for a 169 gram shot capacity, is electric servo-motor controlled and has tie bar spacing of 16.5 inches by 16.5 inches.
According to Bishop, the advantages of a LIMS system include safety; no plasticizers, latex or BPA; clean with no reaction byproducts; contaminant-free closed system; can produce varying thickness and undercuts; consists of a fast cure cycle; produces flash free parts; and is stable with excellent shelf life.
Shin-Etsu first commercialized silicone rubber in 1953 and has been in the liquid silicone business for about 20 to 25 years, Bishop said.
The company hired Craig Lustek as its LIMS processing engineer about a year and a half ago. Lustek joined Shin-Etsu with more than 10 years of experience as a molder and mold maker, and he also spent time working with an equipment company that was marketing a dosing system.
"He's been able to take that experience and share that with customers, whether that be on site — troubleshooting at their location — or doing it over the phone or trying to improve our processes here," Bishop said.