Steven Broadbent is an elastomer/LSR process engineer for Engel North America.
Q: What are some of the current trends in LSR machinery?
Broadbent: There is a lot more technical molding, consumer products and larger parts. As a result, we are seeing some larger-tonnage machines. In the past, a 200-ton machine was rare for LSR. Today, I would say that 19 percent of everything we do is in that 200 to 250 ton range.
Q: Are companies still retrofitting injection molding machines to do LSR molding?
Broadbent: Yes. There are some software differences for the dosing equipment and vacuum systems that are an absolute requirement for LSR. We are seeing people ordering machines that can be changed back and forth. They want to have the thermoplastic option still on the machine.
Q: How do these machines compare in price?
Broadbent: I would say there is probably a 15 percent to 20 percent increase for LSR because of the additional options.
Q: What sort of additional controls and auxiliary equipment are LSR molders seeking?
Broadbent: No. 1 is the material delivery system. The industry has found that we need better control in material delivery to ensure pressures are the same.
Q: What is your outlook for LSR molding?
Broadbent: It is definitely growing. I think it has become less of a niche market. It used to be limited to a few custom silicone molders. Now, you see more established thermoplastic molders getting to it. More OEMs on the medical side are bringing LSR technology in-house.
From a machine standpoint, we have consistently for the last 10 years seen about a 3 percent to 5 percent growth in our sales. I don't see that slowing down.
This is from "Liquid Silicone Rubber Market Review & Outlook 2017," available at plasticsnews.com/data.