Niles, Ill. — Four is better than three when it comes to large injection molding presses. That's the case for Niles-based A.L.P. Lighting Components, which recently added a 240-ton injection molding press for optical silicone applications.
Better known as a thermoplastic company with experience in compression molding, A.L.P. also manufactures optical silicone components, an option that offers valuable properties for lighting, automotive and other demanding applications. The new 240-ton press is specifically used for liquid silicone rubber molding.
Optical silicone parts are impact-and heat-resistant while being less susceptible to degradation from UV rays. Silicone also is known for its refraction reflection, and diffusion properties, along with self-mounting and self-gasket features.
It's been a challenge for A.L.P. to keep up with increasing demand given the popularity of LED lighting in multiple industries and for many different applications. Optical silicone components help to minimize the adverse impact that high temperature levels can help on thermoplastics used in LED lighting, said Tom Barnes, A.L.P. vice president and business unit manager. This is particularly important because many clients are using LED lights for outside usage in warm temperatures.
Meanwhile, available supply of raw materials used in the process of creating optical silicone parts has been difficult to attain. A.L.P.'s lone supplier was limiting component availability for nearly two years while outreach to other suppliers for additional resources proved fruitless.
A.L.P. was finally able to secure a second supplier, which made the addition of the new 240-ton injection molding press a viable investment. As a result, A.L.P. has replenished its silicone resin inventory, recovering from recent supply chain issues felt throughout the injection molding industry.
"We struggled with the same shortages that everyone else did," Tim DeYoung, A.L.P. LexaLite's director of operations, said in a statement. "Fortunately, we now have a good inventory of raw materials, and we are ready to take on new business."
The new 240-ton press augments A.L.P.'s existing capacity of 180-, 240- and 660-ton presses, all of which can run moldable optical silicone. The new press features a shot size up to nine ounces, mold bases up to 24 x 24 inches, and can produce parts up to 20 x 20 inches. The 600-ton press was modified last year from an old thermoplastic machine and includes a retrofitted silicone unit on the front.