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LIMS for earplugs.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The KE2004-20 silicone LIMS (liquid injection molding system) product has been integrated into the production of a next-generation earplug for swimming and hearing protection. The Series' low durometer (22A) and low modulus produces a soft, flexible feel, while its advanced physical properties deliver a high tear strength (207 ppi) which significantly reduces scrap and cycle time, according to the company.

Retail earplug manufacturer McKeon Products of Warren, MI, invented the silicone earplug in 1962. With a full range of moldable and pre-molded silicone earplugs for a variety of swimmers ear and hearing protection uses, the company recently embarked on progressing its advanced earplug fine. The firm commissioned liquid silicone parts molder Silcotech North America to lead the engineered production and product performance manufacturing challenges.

The key production issue stemmed from the fact that the product had a thin wall section which needed higher tear strength, as the demolding process generated high levels of scrap due to tearing. After prototyping five different molds, an automatic 16-cavity slide tool was chosen with thin wall sections for sealing flanges and thick wall sections for handle areas.

Recognizing the need to reduce cycle time, Silcotech contacted the manufacturer of the KE2004-20 silicone LIMS products which was stated to have the highest tear strength on the market for a 20 durometer product. In addition to its low hardness and high tear strength, KE2004-20's relatively higher viscosity also translated to impoved handling and flash, according to the company. Its higher strength and outstanding release properties allowed for de-molding parts, particularly those with thin wall thicknesses, without tearing and generating scrap.

KE2004-20 Series performance benefits in the earplug manufacturing process are said to include reducing the number of scrap parts during demolding, while maintaining the same soft feel; cycle time required was reduced by 60%; less plating-out of silicone required less frequent cleaning; no change in processing parameters for easy transition to new material; higher productivity/higher yield and a 100% increase in productivity; and new market opportunities due to greater manufacturing efficiency, according to the manufacturer.

Shin-Etsu Silicones of America

www.shinetsusilicones.com
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Title Annotation:Case Studies
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Mar 22, 2008
Words:349
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