Every one of the more than 100 injection molding machines in Marchtrenk are from Engel, all painted in Starlim's blue and white corporate colors, except for several white machines in Class 7 and 8 clean rooms. The latter mostly stand still, as they represent a backup security reserve to support molding for a customer served by Starlim North America in London, Ontario, in case production is interrupted there.
Großalber said: "It is less expensive for the customer to have a single source [Starlim] supplying from two locations than to split requirements between two suppliers."
He explained the machine and materials policy as to "keep it simple," easing maintenance tasks and running just one control system, as well as keeping up to date with developments together with Starlim's suppliers, who have been growing with Starlim as silicone technology progresses and many of whom have been placing orders at Starlim for 25 to 30 years. The same single source approach applies to raw materials, too, Großalber added.
One particular feature of the machine park is the way all of the LSR material drums and "Sterner" mixing and dosing equipment, developed by Starlim itself, are located in the cellar below the molding machines. This keeps the floor area clear with a small footprint for each machine.
The company's control room displays details of all machines running worldwide in real time on large computer screens. This enables staff to identify nonoptimal processing conditions and to inform the local production staff immediately, or at least when they come into work later in the day.
Solid silicone in form of HTV (high-temperature vulcanizing) material used at Starlim addresses the need for higher chemical resistance to automotive fuel needed for spark plug covers and certain automotive connector mats, as the material tends to swell less than LSR. Großalber says 40 percent of the connector mats are molded in LSR, the rest in HTV silicone runner. Showing the solid nature of the material, Großalber said it becomes just as easy flowing as LSR when it is inside the molding equipment.
While touring the parts display room, Großalber pointed to use of LSR for the dog lead of a Playmobil toy figure of a person with a dog, stressing importance of using LSR to avoid safety concerns, in event of the line becoming detached and getting swallowed by children. Just as important are the large seals produced for dialysis equipment, as "if it doesn't work, the patient dies." This has been emphasized to Starlim staff by taking them to visit a hospital dialysis station.
The market for LSR computer keyboard mats has been declining, but the decline has been more than compensated by growth in Asia, where there is also strong growth in showerhead mats, produced in Austria and delivered to Asia.
Asked about micromolding LSR, Großalber replied "we are still in the infancy stage here, but we do have some micromolding lines as a means of developing solutions for customers."
Multicomponent molding at Starlim has been growing at a rate just under 20 percent annually, Großalber said.