Liquid Silicone Rubber And the Growing Medical Niche Market
The use of liquid silicone rubber in injection molding is a rapidly growing niche market with new possibilities almost every week. The process is rather unique, but not so different than the injection molding of thermoplastics.
Custom injection molders everywhere are looking for markets to penetrate, and this is an opportunity for a molder who is willing to learn new technologies and invest in a white room. It is also advisable to have put into place your lean manufacturing process. Besides the fact that it just makes good business sense, medical companies are very demanding of protocol, order, cleanliness, and accountability.
A little overview of LIM(TM), or Liquid Injection Molding
Liquid silicone molding is very similar to conventional plastic injection molding, with one major difference: in LIM(TM) the barrel is cooled and the mold is heated! Just exactly opposites. Because the parts are injection molded they are clean and hopefully flash-free. This offers several benefits such as lower cost per part, better quality control, and contamination free parts. This makes it ideal for molded medical parts.
Molders who can have a Class 10,000 Clean room for high cleanliness Qalo Silicone Rings sensitive parts are able to mold U.S.P. Class VI Medical and Food Grade materials. While this demands a high level of investment and sophistication, the payoff can be great. This is also a strategy some custom injection molders use to win domestic work.
What are some types of rubber molded?
Many gaskets and “o” rings used in assembly are made of silicone rubber. Other medical rubber parts can be made out of Viton, Nitrile, Neoprene, Flourosilicone,and Ethylene Propylene. Because the molding is done without contaminants in the plastic seals and gaskets of silicone are ideal for medical products.
What other industries use liquid silicone?
Besides the medical market, there are numerous other industries served by LIM(TM). Aerospace, automotive, electronics manufacturers, firefighters, divers, and many other specialized industries are included. This represents a good opportunity for custom injection molders who want to diversify.
LIM(TM) products are found on most military aircraft such as special helicopters, bombers, in-flight refueling craft, and jet fighters. Nearly all commercial aircraft use elastomeric molded parts as well. Every year more and more applications are being developed.
LIM(TM) Molding machines
Obviously, if the barrel is cooled and the mold heated, you need a specialized molding machine. There are a number of major manufacturers who have lines of LIM(TM) molding machines in various tonnages.