Fairlawn, Ohio — Motorola was one of the first U.S. companies to recognize the importance of soft-touch grips — a big market for TPEs — for its cellphones, according to John Berg, director of marketing at MGS Mfg. Group Inc.
He said Motorola used soft-touch TPEs on areas such as buttons and docking stations, beginning around 2000. MGS, of Germantown, Wis., specializes in multi-shot tooling, and the mold-maker became the go-to company for the telecommunications industry, as cellphone players fought to get to market quickly.
“Cost was not an object” since the telecommunications companies could lose sales to faster rivals, Berg said at the TPE TopCon 2016 conference in Fairlawn. “So TPEs became part of the vocabulary at MGS,” he said.
Multishot molding “provides a tremendous number of attributes to the end user,” Berg said. He cited some examples of soft-touch products in which MGS has played a key role, including toothbrushes.
“Now, it's about 95 percent two, three of four-material toothbrushes. And there's just a very little area of single-material toothbrushes on the shelf now, and they've got dust on them,” he said.
Other multishot products using TPEs include power tools, grips for shaving razors, writing instruments and medical diagnostic equipment.
MGS has produced many molds for Sanford's Sharpie markers, shipping them around the world. Customers like the soft-touch handle, and are willing to pay for that feature, he said. MGS developed a retractable Sharpie pen, working out a cylindrical gasket and outside spout, a TPE-reinforced living hinge fitted with a small spring.