Rogan Corp. has purchased two Sodick injection presses, with a third one coming later this year, as the company expands liquid silicone molding operations for medical at its plant in Northbrook, Ill.
Rogan first got into silicone molding in 2006, by purchasing a general-purpose, reciprocating-screw injection press that ran LSR, according to Jim Ritzema, vice president of engineering.
We were looking on the horizon and saw liquid silicone molding. We liked the potential growth and applications, and so we ventured into it, and continued to grow, he said.
Rogan does compression and injection molding of knobs. The company is a longtime multishot molder of soft-touch parts using thermoplastic elastomers.
LSR is a totally different process: Liquid components are pumped in, then get heated inside the mold. LSR requires special pumping systems and molds.
After working with the original LSR press, Rogan officials began looking for something better. Rogan bought the first Sodick, a horizontal press with 40 tons of clamping force, in mid-2009. Sodick delivered a second 40-ton press this time a vertical-clamp model in January.
Rogan has added a Class 100,000 clean room for the medical work. The company focuses on value-added LSR jobs, such as silicone bonded to other materials, and post-curing to improve compression-set properties of LSR parts.
Our plans are to expand our capabilities by adding a larger-tonnage Sodick this year, Ritzema said.
Sodick presses, from the Japanese machine maker Sodick Plustech Co. Ltd., use a two-stage injection system dubbed the V-Line, instead of a reciprocating screw. The technology separates the functions of melting and injection. An electric-driven screw is mounted at an angle on top of the injection barrel, and the screw plasticizes the resin and feeds the melt into a chamber. There, a plunger pumps the melt into the mold.
Instead of a toggle clamp, Sodick machines employ a hybrid direct-clamping system.
In researching other companies, we found Sodick and really liked their plunger technology because of the consistency from shot to shot. We do a lot of micro-molding of LSR parts, and we liked the consistency and the quality of Sodick machines, Ritzema said.
LSR molding is getting a lot of interest from plastics molders, said Len Hampton national sales manager for Sodick Plustech's U.S. operation in Schaumburg, Ill. But LSR takes an investment in time to understand the process and, for medical, it takes money to add a clean room, Hampton said.
He added that Rogan has put the money forward and put everything in place to really target the market.
Rogan Corp. has a long history of innovation dating back to its beginning during the Great Depression, when brothers Nick, Ed and J.J. Rogan started a business in 1934 doing calligraphy on diplomas, family heirlooms and other items. Ritzema said the brothers developed a way to do hot-stamping onto leather. (Ed Rogan's son, Ed Rogan Jr., owns the company today).
In World War II, the company got a government contract to hot-stamp knobs and other plastic parts. But when Rogan's sales plunged after the war ended, the brothers bought some used machines and began molding knobs. Initially, they compression molded thermoset knobs. Then, in the late 1960s, they began injection molding thermoplastics.
The company also added insert molding, which remains a specialty today.
Rogan got into multishot molding in the mid-1980s, beefing up its custom molding business.
With a history of more than 75 years, Rogan continues to change. We like to consider ourselves a pretty dynamic company, said Robert Hamilton, vice president of sales and marketing.
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