Hot-runner maker Incoe Corp. is entering the liquid silicone rubber market, showing its first “cold manifold” at Penn State Erie's new medical plastics center of excellence.
The manifold, including the runner system, is water-cooled, according to John Blundy, Incoe's vice president of business development.
Blundy said the Troy, Mich., company is in a good position to serve the growing LSR business. “We decided that, although there are some manufacturers already in what is referred to as ‘cold runners' or ‘cold manifolds,' we want to enter that market,” he said in a June 14 interview at the Penn State 2011 Injection Molding Conference. Incoe was an exhibitor at the conference.
Blundy said some LSR mold makers build their own cold manifolds, but there are not that many suppliers of commercial cold-manifold systems.
The medical plastics center of excellence has an Arburg injection press with 55 tons of clamping force, housed in a portable clean room. Incoe's cold manifold works on an LSR mold supplied by Cavaform International LLC in St. Petersburg, Fla. The press was molding parts during the molding conference.
In many ways, LSR is the opposite of injection molding thermoplastics. LSR is a liquid that gets pumped through a cooled nozzle and runner manifold, then gets cured to a thermoset inside a heated mold. If the manifold and runners were hot, the LSR would begin to cure before it gets into the mold.
Blundy said Cavaform helped Incoe develop the cold manifold. Incoe will sell it to any mold maker once it is commercialized.
At Cavaform, medical accounts for about 80 percent of business, co-owner Chuck Massie said in a telephone interview. Cavaform has made LSR molds before, he said, typically one LSR mold, along with several thermoplastic molds, in a single-source project for a customer, he said.