WOODSTOCK, Conn.—Rogers Corp. launched an in-house testing and design center in January at its Woodstock facility for high performance foams.
The XRD Impact Institute will assess the durability and force impact of products produced with Rogers' foams, but specifically its Poron line of multi-purpose foam that is used in footwear, electronic cases and protective apparel among other products.
Rogers hired two employees in conjunction with the center—a tech specialist and a designer.
The primary objective of the center is to assist customers with new designs, offering prototyping and testing to ensure high quality and use of its materials, said Angela Walters, Rogers' senior marketing communications specialist.
“Many designers have concepts of how they want to create, but especially when you're looking at impact protection, it's not a one fits all solution,” Walters said. “We certainly can offer a variety of solutions that can meet their specific needs, but in order to do that we have to encompass more than just providing sampling materials. We need to be involved with the design process from the beginning.”
The lab took about eight months to a year to put in place, which mainly involved pulling the proper equipment and people together, Walters said.
Rogers maintains certified labs at all of its manufacturing locations, but Walters said those are designed for product testing. The impact institute is an application-based lab designed to test how products will perform in the field. Tests include dropping a laptop from three feet repeatedly up to 100 times, helmet impact protection for sports equipment and measuring the impact of high heel shoes for footwear.
“We're excited to see where some of these applications come through,” Walters said. “We're excited to be working with designers to help their designs really succeed in the marketplace. By being able to test their products, we're able to help them ensure they have good product quality, great design and something that end consumers will be able to benefit from.”
The Poron line consists of more than 10 different products and has a strong compression set resistance, Walters said. In addition to changing the foam's density, Poron's various molecule structures and formulations can be modified. Often Poron materials are die-cut or skived, but Walters said the firm has introduced a line of molded technologies in its Woodstock factory.
Some products are specifically designed for impact absorptions. Others offer high resiliency or custom contouring. Walters said Rogers is looking to expand into foams used inside cell phones and electronics.
“I think we see too many products on the market now that try to be everything to everybody,” Walters said. “At the end of the day, this means it's not the best product for everyone. So we're trying to work with these designers in creating products that really do help to meet their various market needs that are in particular to their product needs.”
Rogers globally produces specialty materials and components for consumer electronics, power electronics, mass transit, clean technology and telecommunications infrastructure. It is headquartered in the U.S. and operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S., China, Germany, Belgium and South Korea.