A Guide to Silicone Molding and Low-Volume Manufacturing

Many tools are available, including high tech software and machine to produce silicone molds that are long-lasting and can be modified dimensionally according to the requirement. Several tooling designs are in use to reduce the cost and time of the molding process. One of the processes is liquid injection molding used to prepare molded silicone gaskets, sheets, or rolls. For customized components, top-notch quality silicone rubber materials and optimized processes are used.

Below are the steps of a molding manufacturing operation for silicone, which includes a full-service model, and to ease the transition from the prototype:

  • Assessment: To start the molding process, a CAD file is required to check the products’ suitability for a unique pre-defined skill set. A non-disclosure contract is required to protect the customers’ property.
  • Estimation: After assessment of actual efforts and materials, a silicon molding costestimate with primary cost elements is shared and break-down of cost components including labor, packaging, and other overhead expenses with an expected profit margin.
  • Problem-solving: A team of professionals will work with the internal team to design the product for huge volume manufacturability with high-quality standards, appearance, and desired functionality.
  • Material selection: A wide range of materials in plastics and silicones are available, and the right material selection is a crucial step to meet the products’ requirements including safety, durability, and legal requirements.
  • Sourcing: Designing the products to match the standards and molding process will take a maximum of eight weeks. Mold making partners are also in the picture to assist the experts in meeting the product requirements.
  • Packaging: This option is available for safe delivery of the final product, and package design partners are there to support custom retail packaging.
  • Initial Approval: Once the final product sample is ready, parts delivery will begin with article endorsement and issue a report comparing the details to those of the molded components. Any modifications will be carried out immediately by engineers. If all is well, we are going to move into full-scale generation.
  • Production: The main support required in the molding process is flexibility and a responsive team to accommodate the requests and follow tight schedules to complete the assignment on time. Minimum order quantity is mandatory in silicone moldingas it involves high cost, which makes it a reasonable requirement.
  • Secondary operations and assembly: Various in-house operations are required to perform including die-cutting, assembly, Cryogenic DE flashing, implementation of medical adhesives to parts, or printing of silicones.

Silicone Injection Molding:

The silicone molding process is not limited to a single sector but used in many consumer and life science products. It requires expertise in molding and intricate designs of other parts which should be done with precision. It also includes molding equipment’s which are repeatable for both the categories thermoplastic and thermoset materials. Engineers who are experienced and gained the expertise to handle the complex and custom injection molding applications can work on products’ integrity, durability, and texture.

In this, a range of high-performance materials in the silicone molding process includes:

  • Liquid silicone rubber
  • Heat Cured Rubber
  • Moldable RTVs

In the initial days of manufacturing legacy, goods are not created in batches, or mass production was not in the picture. However, the demand for faster and inexpensive products are fulfilled by factories by using mass generation technique.

The medical device field generally uses Low-volume manufacturing; for example, new ideas are tested on the selective samples before finalizing the large volume productions. All the components such as manufacturing operations, designing, and product aesthetics have low priority as compare to setup and tooling cost for a project. The main focus is required on the client expectations, and suppliers are not aligned with it. Opportunities are still there despite challenges.

For mass production, the initial outlay involves the cost of all parts. In the case of low- quantity, capital investment is higher than the part cost. Balancing is required to be done on features, cost, and speed. In low- volume generation, companies use off the shelf parts, which hinders the aesthetics and creativity.

In the low-production technique, designing complex products needs to be compromised. With having limitations in the manufacturing process, the designer will modify the designs to make good quality parts. In addition to this, the designer can also add the same on either side or by using the same at different places. This process of designing applies to all the functions.

It is advisable to discuss the challenges and compromises of the low-volume process in advance with the clients so that expectations can be set accordingly. For optimized form and function, it is important to have a clear understanding of the fabrication volume and manufacturing process. It is better than to stretch the limits of a manufacturing technique to get the output for which it is not designed.

It could be more challenging for suppliers to opt for low-volume manufacturing costs, because, less production means less financial profit. Vendors tend to avoid small quantity orders because they set up for large productions. Only specific suppliers who specifically set up for that scale can work relentlessly in low quantity orders. Sourcing should be done with a filter that vendor should have specialization in a low-volume generation. They are ready to run various small jobs with easy setup of manufacturing and assembly wings. It is advisable to know the capabilities and processes of a firm in advance.

When requesting off-the-shelf parts, attempt to utilize parts that come in standard sizes. In case that a portion is suspended, another can be substituted without requiring a significant item overhaul. When this kind of backup isn’t conceivable, a low-volume producer must depend on a single-source portion. In that case, create possibility plans in case the portion gets to be obsolete. While low-volume fabricating has its challenges, it too offers focal points.

By utilizing forms suited to little clusters, model and generation units can have comparable components and materials. This empowers early execution testing, and preparatory confirmation and approval work out, lessening the shocks that can appear up in, to start part manufacturing. Being mindful of the challenges included with a plan for low-volume manufacturing early within the plan handle can make it much simpler. Knowing the impediments of the forms can abbreviate plan time and offer help with overseeing clients’ desires.