(From the July 25, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
ERIE, Pa.—Hot runner maker Incoe Corp. is entering the liquid silicone rubber market, showing its first cold manifold at Penn State Erie's Medical Plastics Center of Excellence.
The manifold, including the runner system, is water-cooled, according to John Blundy, Incoe's vice president of business development.
Blundy said the Troy, Mich.-based company is in a good position to serve the growing LSR business. “We decided that, although there are some manufacturers already of what is referred to as 'cold runners' or 'cold manifolds,' we want to enter that market,” he said.
Blundy said some LSR mold makers build their own cold manifolds, but there are not that many suppliers of commercial cold manifold systems.
The Medical Plastics Center of Excellence has an Arburg injection molding machine with 55 tons of clamping force housed in a portable clean room. Incoe's cold manifold works on an LSR mold supplied by Cavaform International L.L.C. in St. Petersburg, Fla.
In many ways, LSR is the opposite of injection molding thermoplastics. LSR is a liquid that gets pumped through a cooled nozzle and runner manifold, then gets cured to a thermoset inside a heated mold. If the manifold and runners were hot, the LSR would begin to cure before it gets into the mold.
Blundy said Cavaform helped Incoe develop the cold manifold. Incoe will sell the manifold to any mold maker once it is commercialized.
At Cavaform, medical accounts for about 80 percent of business, according to co-owner Chuck Massie. Cavaform has made LSR molds before, he said, typically one LSR mold along with several thermoplastic molds in a single-source project for a customer.