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Differentiating your product with custom calendered materials.

In today's competitive business climate, it is important to +differentiate your product offering. This is especially true for manufacturing companies seeking to become market leaders. Component customization is an effective way to create a truly unique end product that outperforms your competition.

Custom calendering companies produce rubber and fabric-reinforced rubber sheet products to exacting dimensions with very tight tolerances. Engineers working with a custom calendering company can work hand-in-hand with their supplier's product development team to create components that fit their designs precisely and accurately. A custom calendering company not only offers the expertise and equipment to create specialty sizes and constructions, but also the chemical expertise to design rubber formulas that perform in demanding applications.

To use a rubber sheet product "off-the-shelf" means that you will be using the same materials that your competitors have access to and that your end product will be constrained by the performance limitations of that component. An example of this is a seal in a non-flammable, high-pressure vessel that may be used indoors or outside. A custom calendering company can work with your designers to produce one seal material that is flameproof, weather resistant and holds its seal at high pressures. If you attempted to use "off-the-shelf" sheet material for your seal, you may only be able to meet one of those critical properties at a time. This would result in developing three separate end products for the different end-user applications. Through the use of a specially designed calendered sheet material, you could offer one end product to meet the demands of all potential applications.

Another important advantage of using a custom calendered sheet material is that any thickness can be produced. This means that you can design your end products with performance as the top priority and not have to compromise critical design criteria in order to make your flat rubber component fit. Off-the-shelf rubber sheet is only available in standard sizes. What if the seal, gasket, flap, valve, bladder or other component in your assembly does not fit well using a standard thickness? One option is to spend time and money re-designing your product only to compromise its original performance targets. Alternatively, an engineer can work with a custom calendering company and quickly develop a component that fits perfectly and allows your product to meet all original performance targets and outperform your competition.

The most outstanding advantages of using a custom calendered sheet can be realized when that supplier can also offer you their products with extremely tight thickness tolerances. Figure 1 illustrates how much tighter thickness tolerances a custom calendering company can offer vs. their off-the-shelf competitors. When tight tolerance is combined with specially developed materials, the end-product performance characteristics can be pushed to new limits. In the world of product design, tight tolerance components allow engineers to meet exacting specifications without worrying about the effects of stacked tolerances. An example of this is a gasket assembly that is exposed to significantly different mediums on either side of the gasket. In order to perform well and have a long life, the gasket may need to be comprised of two sheet materials stacked together. If the combined thickness tolerance of those two components exceeds the overall tolerance of the assembly, then the designer has a problem. The options are to redesign the assembly--which can be costly and time consuming---or work with a custom calendering company and use tight tolerance materials that, even when stacked, will fit perfectly.


Besides performance enhancements, another important benefit of using customized, tight tolerance rubber sheeting is uniformity. Uniformity basically means that every part is the same every time. It can be expected that every part out of a batch of components cut from a roll of tight-tolerance sheet rubber wild be the same dimensionally. This has two important benefits for the designer. Number one is predictable and repeatable product performance--also known as "conformance quality." If a high-pressure seal is designed to hold 1,000 psi for five minutes, and every seal out of a batch does just that, then that part has high conformance quality. End-products with low conformance quality can fail unpredictably and disappoint many customers or possibly cause unsafe conditions. Almost as important as conformance quality is the ability of an engineer to design for manufacturability. In other words, a product should be designed so that it can be readily built in the factories. This leads to the second benefit of uniformity--a worry-free raw material that will make it much easier and less costly to build your products. A worry-free raw material eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming incoming inspections. It also eliminates the need for extensive performance testing prior to shipping your products. It is always better to design quality in rather than to try to inspect bad parts out.

As you can see, tight-tolerance, customized sheet products can be your avenue for developing highly precise components that will allow your end-products to outperform the competition. Additionally, tight-tolerance rubber sheeting will allow your products to be built predictably and efficiently. So if product differentiation is part of your strategy for becoming a market leader, contact a custom calendering company that can hold tight tolerances and start designing the absolute best components for your products' needs.
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Title Annotation:Tech Service
Author:Copperwheat, Marcus W.
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Previous Article:Friction control article for wet and dry applications.
Next Article:Automated accurate rubber strip stacking.

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